The resume is a tool with a goal…to get an interview. It must stand out from stacks of other resumes and convince the employer that you have what it takes to be successful in the role. Here are some tips for writing a resume that will get you in the door and on the path to your next great career move.
PLAN BEFORE YOUR WRITE
Don’t rush immediately into writing. Do a self-evaluation on paper outlining skills, work experience, accomplishments, and awards to plan out these sections of your resume:
- Career objective What are you seeking in your next position? Write a concise, one-sentence, goal-oriented statement of your career objectives.
- Work history This is the “meat” of your resume, and the section potential employers will most closely review. List your positions in reverse chronological order – meaning list your last position, first. Include specific examples of results and goals you’ve achieved. For example, did you improve upon an existing process? Create a new one? Have you used the latest software or technology? Trained other employees? Can you quantify any improvements you’ve helped achieve? The goal is to highlight your accomplishments, not just a list of duties.
- Education List high school and the college you attended. And don’t forget any courses, training, certifications or workshops you’ve completed.
- Awards/memberships List honors and recognitions you have received, as well as industry associations or professional groups you are associated with.
Sending an e-mail is a convenient method of communication. But don’t let the informal nature of e-mail seep into your communications with potential employers. Stay professional and refrain from using slang and inappropriate use of abbreviations.
CUSTOMIZE YOUR RESPONSE
When you know the hiring manager’s name, address him or her directly, versus a more generic “Dear Sir or Madam.” Include the name of the company and the position for which you are applying in your cover letter. Also, tailor your resume for each position, focusing on how your skills and accomplishments meet the needs the employer has stated in the ad. If the employer asks for information – such as references or writing samples – make sure you provide them.
HELP THEM REMEMBER YOUR NAME
When emailing, put your name and the word “resume” in your e-mail subject line, so it’s easy for the hiring manager to identify.
KEEP IT SHORT
Your resume should be no more than one page if you have 5 years or less experience, or two pages if you have more experience. Write in concise bullet points so your resume can be quickly scanned. Try this test: Read aloud. If you have to take a breath before you finish the sentence, it’s too long; break it into two.
FOCUS ON THE BENEFITS YOU BRING THE EMPLOYER
Don’t focus on what you want from the job! This is an opportunity for you to market yourself and stand out by detailing what you can do for the company.
USE ACTION WORDS
Try to integrate verbs such as achieved, generated, established, managed, organized and resolved.
MAKE IT READABLE
It may be fun to play with new fonts, but the resume is not the place to do so. Select an easy-to-read, basic font such as Arial, Times, or Helvetica. Make your type size at least 11 points. Leave some white space — a page filled to the limit with text is uninviting. To preserve formatting when emailing, send the resume as an attachment, rather than cutting and pasting into the text box.
DON’T STRETCH THE TRUTH OR LIE
Hiring managers will verify facts from your resume. Lying about jobs you have held, employment dates, awards, etc. will only hurt you.
PROOF, PROOF, AND THEN PROOF AGAIN
Pay attention to detail. Proofread both your resume and cover letter, checking spelling, grammar, sentence structure and tone. Spell check doesn’t find all errors!