Before you send that résumé out, take some time to make sure it’s the best it can be. Here are some general tips:
- Be sure to proofread. Have someone else proofread too. It is easy to skim over typos, punctuation errors or grammar mistakes when we review our own writing. Check it twice and then check it again. Errors may be perceived as an indicator of a lack of attention to details – often an important job skill.
- Use action keywords. Here’s a list of Power Words.
- Stress accomplishments using metrics to demonstrate success; for instance, if you increased sales from one year to the next, show the percentages:
Increased sales from 2009 to 2011 by 30%
- Try incorporating a bar graph to further demonstrate these accomplishments
Use a graphic to demonstrate your accomplishments
- Make your areas of expertise stand out near the top of your résumé. Consider using a text box framed with shadow and color to really make a splash. See the image to the right.
- Put your finest assets on center stage. In other words, if your education is your strongest point, put it near the top; however, if you have years of applied experience, you should list your experience first and move your educational background to a lower position within the body of the résumé.
- If you have limited experience and education, a one-page résumé is suitable, for instance in the case of a new graduate, but it is no longer the norm. We discussed this in my last post. Don’t be afraid to use two, or even three, pages to support the targeted positions and demonstrate your worth. Remember that today it’s about keywords. The more keywords you use in your résumé, the better your chance of being selected. So use the space you need to describe your skills and qualifications.
- If you are using a professional résumé writing service, request that you receive your final files in both Word (or rich text) and PDF formats. And if you plan to submit your résumé via email, ask about a plain text (ASCII) file format too. Or you can convert it yourself from the Word (rich text) version. This plain format is often required at web-based job sites and is also recommended for embedding your résumé within the body of an email. More about plain text or ASCII format for your résumé next time.
If you have résumé questions, please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you and what challenges you are facing!
Should your résumé be condensed to one page? We’ve been hearing that advice for many years. After all, the goal is to give a quick overview of your background, skills and education in a concise and relevant manner. You want to choose the right words and graphic elements that express your work style and accomplishments while keeping the attention of your reader — in this case the résumé reviewer.
But don’t let the one-page rule influence you too much. If you’re a new graduate or don’t have a varied work history, of course a one-page version will probably work fine for you. But if you’ve had the chance to build a large skill set with relevant work experience and education, you don’t want to sell yourself short. So don’t be afraid to use the two-page format. In the case of a top-level business executive, three pages may even fit the bill.
Sample of a one-page resume. Resume by Words Etc. Click on the image to enlarge.
Résumé experts agree that today the important thing is that you include all your skills and qualifications, using as many keywords as possible, even if it takes two pages. It is likely that your résumé will be scanned for keywords, so the importance of including as many of them as possible cannot be stressed enough. And except in the case of a plain text résumé, which we’ll discuss in another post, you also want to keep white space, graphic design and formatting in mind, and this often means use of space that may result in two pages. Click on the link below to view a sample two-page resume.
White space should be used consistently through your résumé. A general rule is to use the same amount of white space between sections of the résumé and less space between the individual items – for instance the lists of your duties and responsibilities. See the sample two-page resume below. The use of graphic lines also helps to define the sections of your résumé. These design elements create a document that is easy to scan quickly as the reviewer looks for the elements they want in their next employee.
Remember your résumé is your advertisement for you. Just like an ad in a magazine or newspaper, you’ve got to grab your reader’s interest and keep it by making your “ad” easy to review and highlight those keywords that will put you on the short list for interviews.The last thing you want is a jumbled up document that is crowded and so hard to read or scan quickly that you end up in the dreaded “round file!” So don’t be afraid to expand to a two-page version for your résumé.
What challenges do you have in creating your resume? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!