Your resume is the most important document you'll submit in your job search. It's your front-line fighter, so to speak, as it's your first opportunity to present yourself to a potential employer. A strong resume can help you stand out from the crowd, but a weak resume can remove you from the running, so you want to do all you can to make sure your resume is the best it can be. It can be difficult to succinctly present all of your experiences and qualifications, but there are many ways to spruce up your resume without going overboard. To help you land an interview, Business News Daily rounded up some of the experts' best resume writing tips.
The No. 1 rule of writing a resume is to keep it short and straight to the point. The general rule is not more than one page unless you have a very good reason for it to be longer, like an extensive career or many highly applicable works experiences.
Your resume should target the specific job you are applying for. Sending the same resume off to every job you apply for will be a detriment.
“Don’t write a generic resume that could work for any job,” said Wes Lybrand, teacher and former assistant director at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Career and Professional Development Services. Be sure to prioritize your skills and qualifications for each job you try to land. Your resume “should be focused, clear and concise.”
An easy way to keep your resume trim is to only include recent, relevant experience. While that yearlong first or second job might have taught you a lot about the field, it’s not always necessary to include every detail from your entire career history.
“If an experience noted on your resume is from prior to 2000, consider striking it,” said Jane Trnka, executive director of the Career Development Center at Rollins College’s Crummer Graduate School of Business. “The skills listed are probably not the most relevant to the work you are currently doing or plan to do in the future.”
While it’s helpful to refer to a professional resume template, don’t follow it rigidly, said Claire Bissot, SPHR and managing director of CBIZ HR Services. Employers appreciate originality.
The templates are meant to be a guide to get started, but it should be expanded on to make it your own. Format your resume in ways that make you look good. For instance, if you advanced in a company quickly, draw attention to that growth; if you excessively job-hopped, bullet those jobs without providing specifics, and detail more applicable positions. This will play to your assets.
When structuring your resume, make sure the information is presented in a logical order, a hiring manager [will] read your resume starting at the top and ending at the bottom. However, if they don’t finish reading the whole thing – and they often don’t – you still want to ensure your strongest points come across.
Choose three or four former positions or experiences that best highlight the skills required for the position you are applying for. Employers value brevity; this is not the time to list every position you have ever held. For example, if you are applying for a marketing position, you could include your former retail experience and bullet the communication, branding, and interpersonal skills you learned in that position.
Hiring managers don’t want to read a list of your job duties. They want concrete examples of your accomplishments in previous positions that show how you can make a difference in this new position. Rangel noted that specific merits are more engaging to read than just your experiences. For example, “I reduced operating expenses by 23% in six months” is far more interesting to an employer than “I have 30 years of sales experience,” she said.
When deciding what information to keep or cut out of your resume, focus on striking abstract traits and qualifications in favour of concrete, quantifiable results.
The best resumes highlight a job candidate’s actions and results, employers want employees who get things done, and who take great joy and pride in what they do. Rather than a laundry list of your qualifications, your resume should reflect your accomplishments and enthusiasm for your career.”
You shouldn’t ignore your skills section either. Job seekers to list any industry-relevant apps or programs they’re familiar with and find ways to incorporate examples of their soft skills (e.g., work ethic, reliability) into their job descriptions.
Descriptions of your job duties and accomplishments won’t do you any favours. Make sure you’re using strong action words like “achieved,” “designed,” “improved” and “established” to describe your roles and projects. This will make you sound confident while imparting vital information. But be cautious about depending on action verbs – make sure to include details about how you improved a process or achieved a goal.
“Words such as ‘professional,’ ‘results-driven’ and ‘detail-oriented’ provide very little helpful information,” it’s better to use actual job titles than these words
Diya Obeid, founder and CEO of applicant tracking software company JobDiva, also said that you should remove buzzwords like “go-getter,” “team player” and “go-to person” from your resume. These come off as fluff and only take up precious space on your resume.
Triple-check your own work, and then have someone else look over your resume to ensure it’s 100% clean. There is no room for sloppiness on your resume – a hiring manager will likely automatically dismiss your application if they spot a typo or grammatical error.
Make sure it’s error-free and easy to read, HR reps equate typos and errors with laziness. Use good English – the written word has a huge impact on the employer.”
However, typos aren’t the only type of mistake to watch out for.
Review formatting very closely, including font, alignment and spacing. Related issues can often be perceived as a sign of lacking technical skills and/or attention to detail.
That candidates often submit applications that are addressed to the wrong employer or outline experience that’s irrelevant to the role.
Receiving a resume that’s crafted and addressed to someone else (or, worse, a competitor) can be a huge turnoff and will set a negative tone even if they do choose to continue reading your application.
First, you want to impress the employer interviewer with what a great hire you would be – your qualifications, accomplishments, and enthusiasm for them the company and the job role. Second, you want to learn as much as you can about the employer company and this the role you applied. Even if you are unemployed, the last thing you need is to accept a job that will turn out to be a nightmare for you with another, tougher job search too soon. Now, focus on your "customer" -- the employer. To succeed, keep that focus in your mind as you meet your goals. Employers have two primary goals for the job interview. First, they want to determine if you are qualified for the job and, second, they want to discover if you are someone who would fit well into the company.
Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early, dressed appropriately (or a little more formally) for the job and company, and well prepared for the interview.
Be sure to treat everyone there with respect, from the people in the parking lot or on public transportation to the receptionist and the hiring manager.
Bring a copy of the job description with you when you go to the interview. Before the interview, study the job description carefully, particularly the requirements.
Write down how you match each requirement. Then, document your successes that demonstrate you meet, or exceed, those requirements.
Quantify those accomplishments as much as possible — profit dollars increased or expenses reduced, for example.
DO protect the confidentiality of your current employer’s “secrets” — technology, clients, marketing strategies, suppliers, and other competitive information.
Don’t share an accomplishment unless it is relevant and impressive. For example, this accomplishment is impressive– “I was the bid manager for a successful RM1.2 billion federal government contract proposal…” — but it is not relevant to a social media marketing job. Focus on your most recent accomplishments that are relevant to the requirements of this job.
Study the most commonly asked job interview questions, and prepare your responses in advance, customized to each employer, and have good questions ready to ask the interviewers.
If you have something in your work history that needs explaining, prepare a solid response to questions like, “Why did you leave your last job?” Focus on the positive with responses like “I left because opportunities to continue improving my skills ended. It is a well-run company, but I am interested in learning more about leveraging social media for marketing and sales, which is not something they are interested in doing now.”
Be ready to discuss your “salary requirements” if the question is asked. Base your answer on your research into what this employer and other employers pay for this job. Push the salary discussion off as long as you can, until you understand more about the job and the employer understands more about your qualifications and experience.
The quickest way to fail an interview is to know nothing about the employer or to ask uninformed questions like, “What do you do here?” Your research should include what the company does, where they are located, who works there, and how they are viewed.
The best news is that the research will not only prepare you for the interview, including giving you good questions to ask during the interview, it will also give you a better idea if you want to work for the employer.
Knowing the names (and the correct spelling) of your interviewers is essential for sending the thank you notes after the interview. An excellent way to collect that information is to ask for the person’s business card which should also give you their job title and email address. Exchanging business cards is a common practice, so make sure to give each interviewer your own business card.
Also, bring copies of your resume, examples of your work, if appropriate, and a list of your references to give the interviewers.
Be sure the people serving as references are willing and prepared to respond to contact from this employer. Provide them with a copy of the job description, a copy of the resume you submitted, and the name of the employer.
Most of the time, the people interviewing you want you to succeed. Make it easy for them to support you as a job candidate be avoiding making these mistakes.
Given the speed and ease of accessing online information today, with access to all kinds of information from driving records and tax payments to college attendance, making a false claim on many things can be easily discovered. So, to avoid making a bad hire, many employers double-check information provided by the job candidate using Google and LinkedIn as well as your references. False claims are deadly, so don’t risk it.
Answering questions honestly is a requirement, but do not be negative about a current or former employer or co-worker. This is one of the biggest mistakes job candidates make. Saying anything negative is deadly.
Focus on the most positive aspects of the job and the people, even if you hated working there, with those people. When you are negative, the assumption typically made is that there are the proverbial “two sides to every story,” and the other side of this story may have something very negative to say about you.
Focus completely on the job interview. Turn off your smartphone, and do not access it during the interview. In fact, keep it turned off until you leave the employer’s or recruiter’s office.
Asking about the timing and intensity of drug tests and background checks make you look like you have something to hide, raising big red flags for the interviewer and, most likely, ending an opportunity.
Until you are negotiating a job offer, focus your questions on the contents and requirements of this job, how this job fits into the company, who you would be working for (and with), and how it all works together. Remember your goal is to learn as much about the job as you can so that you can determine if it is a good job for you.
Prematurely asking questions about benefits, raises, etc. makes you look interested only in time off, not the content of the job and whether it is a good fit for you.
A good well-written thank you note is often essential, even when sent via email, but fewer than twenty-five percent of interviewees send them. Remember, the interview, and how you handle the whole process, is a sample of your work.
Demonstrate your understanding of the process, the rules of common courtesy, your commitment to complete a “project,” and your ability to communicate in writing by sending a thank you note (or email) immediately after the interview.
Following these do’s and don’ts should help you be successful in your job interviews. Remember that employers view your actions in the whole hiring process as examples of your work. Show them what a good worker you are. Now, go and knock their socks off!