When you are writing a resume for the first time, or if you haven't updated yours for a while, it can be hard to know where to start. In most instances, your resume is the first thing a potential employer sees from you; they're likely to be reviewing dozens, if not hundreds, of other resumes so making yours stand out in a positive way is no easy feat. And with all of the conflicting advice on the web, the task becomes even more difficult! Feeling intimidated? Fear not and keep reading because I've compiled a list of everything you need to know to craft a winning resume to help you snag that dream job!
1. Keep it short and sweet Your resume should never be longer than one single sided page. This is not the time to be verbose, if you can convey your point with fewer words, do it. Employers appreciate candidates who can express themselves in a clear and concise manner because it saves them time and speaks to your ability to communicate effectively.
2. Simplicity is key You may think choosing a non traditional font, or colorful paper will make your resume standout from the crowd, but in reality it will probably just annoy the person reading it. Your top objective is to ensure your resume looks professional and is easy to read. Use a traditional font like Arial, Helvetica, Calibri, or Garamond; and stick to sizes between 10 and 12, leaving a healthy amount of white space on the page. You can use a different typeface for your name, headers, and companies you've worked for but keep it simple and consistent.
3. Edit, edit, edit Your resume should only list your most impressive and relevant experiences. Rather than listing your entire career history, use the extra space to elaborate on your accomplishments and any special projects at each job. Think of your resume as a marketing tool, telling the story of why you're the perfect person for the job.
4. Put the best stuff at the top The top half of your resume is the first thing a hiring manager will see, list your most impressive experiences and achievements here to serve as a "hook" for someone to keep reading.
5. Keep it (reverse) chronological List your most recent jobs first, then education. Employers are usually more interested with what you've learned after college then where you attended.
6. Know your market If you are applying for jobs internationally, you'll need to tailor your resume to that country's norms. For example, if you're applying for a job in the U.S., a head shot should not be included as part of the resume unless it is specifically requested; however, if you're applying for jobs in Europe or Asia a head shot should definitely be included.
7. Tailor it Don't send the same resume out for every position. Do your research on the company and position you're applying for, then tailor your resume to include the most relevant experience for that job. By highlighting the most relevant information and eliminating everything else, you'll make it easier for the hiring manager to visualize you as the natural fit for the job.
8. Keep a Master list Tailoring your resume for every job can be time consuming so keep a master list on your computer of every job you've everything you've ever included on a resume-previous jobs, special projects, awards etc. The master list makes it easy to cut and paste the most relevant information together for each iteration of your resume.
9. Make it "skimmable" People are lazy, make things easy for them. Include important information like your contact details (phone number and professional email address, home address no longer necessary) in an easy to find location, like the header.
10. Show, don't tell Listing soft skills can leave your resume sounding like a pile of meaningless buzzwords; instead of saying you're a "strong leader", use bullet points under each position to illustrate your skill set. Examples are more powerful than words.
11. Include non-traditional work Feel free to include volunteer work, part time or free lance work if it is relevant to the job you're applying for. This is especially true for fresh graduates who usually don't have much full time work experience.
12. Proofread, proofread, proofread An obvious spelling or grammatical error can land your resume in the "no" pile even if you're a good fit for the job. Take the extra effort to have a friend look over your resume to ensure this doesn't happen to you.