Do you have a resume? Is it a little out of date?
If you are one of the 13.9 million Americans who are currently unemployed and looking for work, I'm sure you'd be the first to tell us that finding a job is down right difficult right now. It's arguable that there's never been a more important time to polish up your resume and portray yourself in the best light possible. When you're looking for work to support your family every little bit helps.
In my prior employment I was often required to qualify candidates based purely on their resumes. There were quite a few shocking examples that came my way. Here are some ways you can overhaul your resume to better your chances at landing the job.
- Organize it
A cluttered resume may signal a cluttered and disorganized worker. People who are recruiting don't want to have to hunt and search for pertinent information. Organize the layout of your resume in a logical manner. There are many ways to do this but this is my favorite and in my opinion the easiest to make my way through.
- Name and contact details in a single line across the top.
- Summary of qualifications - a high level summary of what you have to offer.
- Professional experience - be sure to include the company name, your job title, the dates you held the position and key accomplishments you made.
- Education - list all diplomas and degrees you've received including the year it was awarded, the name of the institution and what you majored and minored in.
- Round it out with additional information that may be important: publications, professional development, scholarships and awards etc...
- You don't need to list all of your past work experience.
If you've been in the work force for several years you may have bounced around from job to job or switched careers entirely. While you may be proud of all you've accomplished and want to show it off, it's not always a wise idea. Again it comes down to the recruiter having to read through a huge amount of information looking for the gems that are applicable to the position they want to fill. Customize your resume to the position being filled.
- Details, details, details
Go through your resume with a fine-toothed comb. Spelling mistakes, incomplete sentences and grammatical errors can mean the difference between getting an interview and not. Take the time to freshen up fonts and do your best to make your resume easy to scan. Use point form where you can and bold key phrases you want to draw particular attention to.
A busy resume full different fonts, formats and long solid blocks of text can be really difficult to read. Use font variations sparingly (sizing, type, bolding, italicizing and underlining) and be consistent. Consider removing sections of your resume as well. Things like personal interests, hobbies, training etc., may not be entirely appropriate to put on your resume. They can, however, be interesting and make great talking points so save them to build a rapport during an interview.
- Pair it with a cover letter
Always have a cover letter to accompany your resume. The cover letter serves the following purposes:
- to let the recruiter know what job you're applying for
- how you learned about the job opportunity (if it was from someone internal at the company use their name)
- to highlight specific accomplishments that relate directly to the job being filled (education, training, experience ...)
- to tell them a bit about your personality (motivated, communication skills, enthusiastic ...)
- to let them know how you will follow up. Will you call them in a week or send them a follow up email?
While a kick ass resume won't guarantee you'll get the job, it certainly increases your chance at getting in the door and landing an interview. Dig yours up, have a look and breathe some new life into it. Before you send it out have a friend or family member read it over for you. There's a lot to be said for a second pair of eyes.
Do you have any resume tips to share - dos or don'ts?