In my most recent post, I shared how it’s a candidate’s market and companies need to start making changes if they want to continue to hire and retain top talent; however, that doesn’t give candidates an excuse to get slack. Your resume is an introduction and it needs to be as hot and on fire as it is outside in this mid-July. I ask that you look at this article not as tips for your resume, but rather musts if you want to land your dream job. It’s still a very competitive market and companies want the best of the best.
- Spellcheck and Proofing – I know we all think we’re excellent at spelling because we got 1st in our 5th grade spelling bee, but typos still happen. Not only do misspelled words happen, but the wrong tense or the wrong type of word happens like “there” instead of “their”. After you’ve spellchecked your resume, read it backwards. Sometimes when you’ve been staring at a document for a long time, you start to read what you intended to say versus what it might actually say. Reading the resume backwards can help you catch those mistakes.
- Summary instead of Objective – Everyone knows you are trying to seek a challenging role to utilize the skills you’ve obtained in school or in previous roles. It’s a waste of space on your resume and time for those reading it. Instead of an objective, write a summary of your skills, accomplishments, and experience. It’s a snapshot of your resume and career in 2-3 sentences. Make sure to keep the summary professional. It should not include any personal details such as your marital status, health, or life story.
- Education – If you recently graduated, it is completely fine to lists relevant courses taken, GPA, graduating with honors, etc. After the one-year mark, these things become less relevant and your recent experience becomes the more important topic to look at. If you graduated over 10 years ago, education is better listed below your experience. If it’s been less than 10 years, it’s still good to list above experience. Also, if you received an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, make sure you list your degree correctly. It is not “Bachelors of Science” or “Associates’s of Science”. It is listed “Bachelor of Science” or “bachelor’s degree in whatever your major was”.
- Skills Section – This is the section where you list any software you have used previous or have been trained on. Examples could be Microsoft Office, Adobe Suite, accounting software such as QuickBooks, GreatPlains, Peachtree, etc. Even if you don’t think the software is relevant or up to date, it still could be similar to an employer’s current software that makes you more marketable.
- Duties – Your duties should be listed as short statements of what you did at your job instead of a story. (Example – Processed weekly and monthly billing statements instead of I would process weekly and monthly billing statements for the company). They should be bulleted to make them easier to read versus in paragraph form. The duties of your current role should also be in present tense and duties of your previous jobs should be in past tense. Additionally, make sure your duties are relevant to the role you are applying for. If you’re applying for a teller role at a bank, make sure you’ve listed cash handling on your resume. Likewise, if you’re applying for product supervisor role, you don’t need to list you cleaned bathrooms for the ice cream parlor 5 years ago.
- Formatting – Last but certainly not least, the formatting of a resume is very important. It helps the resume look neat and professional. Spacing should all be the same and lines should start and end on the same margin throughout the entire resume. Don’t have a section centered and then another section left-aligned. The entire resume should also be in one type of font. Sizes can vary, but don’t have too much of a gap between sizes i.e. making a title size 18 and bullets size 10. Company names, titles, and dates should be listed in a way that they stand out from the rest of the resume. I prefer to bold company titles and dates and italicize the job titles. I also list all the dates to the right of the resume for the interviewer to easily see. These formats can differ, but the point is to make sure each job stands out and can be easily read from top to bottom.
In summary, keep things professional, relevant, and neat. This is potentially the only chance you get in front of an employers’ eyes. Make it count! Do you have any other suggestions for making sure a resume is on fire?