Rewriting Your Resume? 7 Easy Ways To Give Yourself An Upgrade
In today's competitive job market, a first class resume is an essential tool for winning an interview. The way in which you present your skills, achievements and experience on paper will profoundly affect the way in which a hiring company considers your application.
An expertly crafted resume not only captures the attention of its reader through
careful attention to layout and formatting; it also targets the specific needs of the
potential employer by matching and highlighting your abilities and background to
the key requirements of the position.
So what exactly is the 'perfect resume'?
It's well-nigh impossible to get recruitment professionals to agree on this. For
example, take the vexed question of the 'resume objective'. Some employers prefer
to see a clearly stated objective as evidence of a candidate's career focus; others
consider including an objective to be a restrictive practice -- or worse, little more
than vague waffle.
So in the pursuit of a truly personalized resume, it's hardly surprising that effective
practice differs from applicant to applicant -- and what suits one job-hunter may
not work so well for another.
And while it's impossible to lay down hard and fast rules of best practice in resume
writing, it's a whole lot easier to identify some of the habits that can turn recruiters
right off -- perhaps even sabotage a candidate's chances from the start!
In this article, I've collected some of these common resume blunders -- so if you're
looking to upgrade your resume, here's a checklist of seven easy ways to start!
1. Don't rely on a 'one size fits all' resume
If your resume is going to get you the interviews you deserve, it needs to focus on
the particular demands of the job. So unless your field is very narrow, it's likely that
you'll need to adapt your resume to each specific application.
To help you target your resume, try answering these questions:
- you're thinking of applying for a job; what would the perfect applicant be like?
- what are their most important characteristics?
- what skills and attributes do they possess?
When you profile the 'ideal candidate' in this way, you're putting yourself in the
employer's shoes: thinking first about what matters to them and
imagining what they'll be looking for when they make a short list from all the
applications they'll receive.
This is a really useful exercise to help you decide which of your own abilities and
achievements to spotlight in your resume.
2. Make sure you include complete contact information
Your cover letter may get separated from the resume. Don't blithely assume that
because your address and telephone number are in the cover letter, they don't need
on the resume as well -- they do!
If the employer wants to get hold of you, they'll likely use the phone. So ensure that
you give a personal number (including area code) where you can be reached during
the day or where messages can be left. Include a cell phone number and e-mail
address where possible.
3. Make the resume easy to read
Don't print your resume in any font size smaller than 11 pt. Be liberal with white
space and remember that bullet points in a list help a reader to absorb information.
You can emphasize headers and key points by discreet use of bold type, capitals or
underlining -- but don't overdo the effect.
Consider going on to a second sheet if a single page is crammed.
4. Seize the reader's interest in the first few lines
If your application is one of dozens or even hundreds received, you need to capture
the attention of the reader in just a few seconds. The best way to focus interest at
the start is with a powerful objective -- or, if you prefer it, a skills summary. It's the
place to emphasize your key achievements and core expertise and identify specific
The employer wants a straight answer to the question 'What can this person do for
me?' -- so make your profile easy to read and give a clear statement of what you
can bring to the job.
5. Don't underplay your achievements and experience
You've already imagined what the perfect candidate for the job would be like. So
now focus on those aspects of your own background and skill set that best illustrate
Highlight your key accomplishments and areas of authority and, wherever possible,
use action verbs and statements that quantify what you have achieved. But don't get
creative here: make sure you give evidence for your claims.
6. Order your information according to what the reader wants to know
There's no single correct order of elements in a resume. Everything depends on
what the employer or recruiter is most interested in finding out.
In general, put your most relevant material first! Many recruiters like a reverse
chronological order of dates.
Also be aware that some employers dislike a purely functional resume format and
feel that it glosses over gaps in work history or other shortcomings.
7. Check your spelling and grammar
There's no substitute for careful proofreading of your resume. Use grammar and
spell checking software by all means, but be aware that it may not always pick up
Print the document and check it on paper rather than on screen. If possible, ask a
reliable friend or relative to double check for mistakes. Don't forget to check that
you have spelled names correctly.
Conclusion: keep developing your resume
Your resume is a powerful marketing tool. It will always be a 'work in progress',
constantly needing updates and refinements according to changing circumstances.
If you're planning or conducting a job search, redrafting your resume could be one
of the best investments you make towards your future career success.
Nigel Patterson is a business writer and publisher of http://1st-class-resume.com/.
Visit his website for more tips and advice on writing an effective resume and cover
letter, resume distribution and preparing for a job interview.