Your resume is often your first opportunity to make an impression with a potential hiring manager or recruiter that can lead to the next step in your career development. Make it count and worth the time it takes to read it by keeping these tips and techniques in mind:
- Keep it short:Your resume should never be more than three pages, and best if kept to two. For positions held more than ten years ago, simply list the dates, the company name and title held.
- Make it easy on the eye:Use plenty of white space and don’t pack too much in by using small fonts and wide margins. People are busy and want to get a sense of who you are, where you’ve been and what you bring to the table quickly.
- Employ a “Marketable Skills” Summary: Highlight your key skills and strengths at the top of your resume so people can quickly get a sense of what you have to offer as a candidate. This is often best achieved by using a 2- or 3-column table, hiding the borders so the formatting is clean and readable.
- Spelling and Grammar Count!:Nothing turns off a hiring manager more quickly than poor grammar and spelling. If you can’t take the time to make your resume right, how can anyone think you’ll pay attention to the details when you’re working for them?
- Make the reader curious and leave something for the interview: A resume should give an overview of your achievements, and not be an exhaustive list of responsibilities. Be as brief and concise as possible, and make sure your top achievements are listed that will spur conversation in an interview.
- If you can’t talk about it, don’t include it: Many interviewers use a candidate’s resume as a guide for their questioning. Make sure you are ready to discuss in detail the things you include on your resume. Nothing evaporates confidence more quickly than a candidate who can’t explain verbally what they put down on paper.
- Don’t be mysterious:Include complete dates when listing academic achievements, degrees and certifications, as well as listing month and year of start and end of positions. There’s no need to hide the truth in your resume – it will come out one way or another and you will be seen as having greater integrity if you are up front about the facts.
- Find a resume buddy: Team up with someone you know and respect (perhaps a mentor or business associate) that you can trust to give you constructive and honest feedback about your resume. This is often the best way to get a sense of the impact your resume makes.
And lastly, don’t forget to have fun with the process and use it as an opportunity to reflect on all the wonderful things you’ve accomplished in your career, whether it’s 2 years long or 20 years long. Reviewing your accomplishments builds confidence, and confidence wins the day in a competitive jobs market.