At IKV, our philosophy to resume writing is to put your best foot forward in order to reach the “yes” pile. Consider using the following techniques as your write your resume.
- Customize your resume for specific positions.
Use your summary or profile section to highlight your skills and expertise as they relate to the specific job. Better yet, carry this customization throughout the entire resume. It may be convenient to create several versions of your resume based on common positions you will be applying for, thus eliminating the amount of customization you will have to do for each job.
- Make sure the remainder of your resume supports your summary, profile, or objective.
If you include in your summary that you have been “a consistent top seller for your region”, you should include specific examples in the body of your resume to reinforce this statement.
- Include key words and technical detail on your resume.
Keep the job description close by when you are customizing your resume, so that you are including key words and phrases that fit the job, field, or occupation. Recruiters often scan a resume in under 15 seconds. They are looking for key words that show you have the skills and knowledge required for the position.
- Be concise, Be thorough.
Because some recruiters look at as many as 500 resumes to fill one position, they want to see your accomplishments, skills, and experiences in as few words as possible. Bullet points and very concise language can showcase your communication skills while highlighting your areas of expertise.
- Use bullet points to help emphasize what you want the hiring manager to know about you.
If the hiring manager is scanning to see if you meet the requirements but can’t easily spot the information, you may get overlooked.
- Make it easy to read. Some ways to make sure your resume is easy to read include:
- Using verb tense consistently. For your present job, you can use the present tense, such as “design and oversee production of building additions”. For previous employment, use the past tense (designed and oversaw).
- Varying your word choice. Even though you are trying to include key words, don’t overdo it. If the key phrase you are trying to include is strategic planning, use a thesaurus to find alternative words, like defined program goals and measures.
- Using a larger point font for the headings and subheadings. This can help direct attention to certain areas of your resume and also demonstrates a strong level of organization.
- Including adequate white space. This can be done around your headings, blocks of text, and with margins. Hiring managers can use this area to take notes before, during, or after an interview.
- Spell check, spell check, spell check! Almost every recruiter and hiring manager has a story about the resume they threw out because of a misspelled words or grammatical errors. Typos and misspelled words show that you are not detail oriented or conscientious about your work.
The following mistakes may consistently categorize resumes into the “no” pile.
- Be Realistic. Don’t submit your resume for a position for which you are not qualified. This was cited as the No. 1 pet peeve among HR professionals on a recent LinkedIn discussion. Make sure you meet at least the basic requirements. Think creatively, though, because sometimes the work you have performed outside of the field may help you meet job requirements.
- Don’t lie or exaggerate experience(s). Whether intentional or not, including false, inaccurate, or misleading information brings your ethics into question and can be illegal! Keep in mind that hiring managers are much more likely to Google and/or conduct background checks to eliminate dishonest candidates.
- Keep reference contacts current. While you do not need to post your reference information on your resume, you should at least have them listed on a separate document that can be easily supplied if requested. Make sure your references are willing and ready to discuss your skills and abilities with a potential employer.
- Don’t use more than two fonts. More than two fonts can make a document difficult to read. The reader’s eye needs familiar and easy-to-read fonts, like Times New Roman or Tahoma.
- Don’t use clip art on your resume. Generally clip art is not considered professional, and any style or formatting design should be minimal. However, if you are applying for a job in a creative industry, then showcasing your design abilities on your resume may be more acceptable and appealing.
- Don’t include pictures. Unless it is required for the position, your photo is not necessary.
- Don’t include personal or health-related information. This includes your birth date, height/weight, health or marital status, religion, or affiliations in clubs that are not related to your career. While it may be appropriate in other cultures and for certain jobs, personal information should generally not be included if you are submitting a resume for a job in the United States.
- Don’t include salary information/history unless you are specifically asked to include it.
A few other things to consider:
- Webpage portfolios are great for showcasing your work, especially if you are in a technical or creative industry. They can be especially beneficial for college graduates and entry-level job hunters who may not have the work experience to prove their abilities.
- Blogsare sometimes another way to highlight your personality and expertise. They are a good alternative for those whose careers may not produce actual physical work samples to showcase. However, keep in mind that blogs are very opinion-oriented and can open you up to negative comments or feedback that potential employers can read.
- Online professional profiles, such as LinkedIn, offer the advantages of highlighting your expertise, posting related links, and offering recommendations from colleagues all conveniently located in one spot. However, you should once again consider that the social interactive nature of profiles make it difficult to control all content on your page, which may make you vulnerable to content you would not like a potential employer to read.
- Maintain an updated, professional, and polished site if you are going to use one of these links on your resume. Make sure all content is grammatically correct. Create design and formatting that is professional and appealing. Remove all content that may be considered personal and/or inappropriate in nature.