More résumé tips

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

  • Be honest with details. The Dean of Admissions at MIT lost her position because she lied on her résumé. Don’t run that risk.
  • 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!


Filed under Resume Tips

17 responses to “More résumé tips

  1. Very good advice Christine, I forwarded along to friends. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for visiting, Marcia. Glad you are passing this along. Please ask your friends to visit my blog and leave me a comment!

  3. Hi Christine -I’m so glad I found your blog (via LinkedIn BTW). It’s all in the details, and when you’re writing creatively it’s hard to strict with oneself.
    Really look forward to reading your other blogs

    • Thanks for visiting and for your comment. Yes, the details — and more importantly, the right details — are the key in today’s job market. Please visit again!

  4. Most impressive post–all excellent suggestions. I like your list of power words and I never thought of illustrating accomplishments through graphics–that would definitely grab my attention if I were scanning the bio.

  5. coachdaddy

    If it weren’t so anti-green to print out that list of action words, I’d so do it. (Between you and me, it’s worth it to have them!) thanks for the great advice.

    If you’re going to do it right, do it right, right?

    • Hi there

      thanks for your comment and for visiting my blog. Glad you like the list and hope you don’t feel too bad if you print it. At least we’re all using recycled paper these days. And sometimes you have to print things to build your resources. I also plan to put the list on my website this week. But that aside, I wholeheartedly agree that “doing it right” is the key! Hope you’ll visit again.

  6. Great resume tips. Thanks for the article.

  7. Unfortunately, I know a number of recruiters who believe that a resume should NEVER be more than two pages. This is difficult for someone like me who is:
    1. accomplished
    2. an old fart
    3. all of the above

    Trying to boil 38 years of experience and accomplishments down to two pages is tough. Left to my own devices, my resume would be seven fun-filled pages long. (I’m actually serious about that. I’ve gotten jobs with my seven-page resume.) Now I have a professionally done, two-page resume that has gotten me nowhere.

    Somewhere between my version and their version I suspect that there is a reality…..

    Kay in Hawaii

    • Kay thanks for your comments. Sometimes we just have to go with our own inner feelings – including with our resume. The important thing is that you focus on key accomplishments and to summarize all those years of experience into all of the great job skills I am sure you have developed over the years. It’s tough out there for all job-seekers these days and even tougher for those of use that are older. I can certainly relate to that. I know I have been passed over for many jobs because of age – in spite of my outstanding years of experience and accomplishments — hence my focus on freelancing using the skills I’ve gained. All my best wishes for your success.

  8. Include a list of tools you are proficient at. This advice is for jobseekers new to the workforce and experienced workers. By tools, I mean applications such as word processors (MS Word being pretty much mandatory), spreadsheets (Excel, …), pdf creators, graphics editors, HTML/text editors. If you are a recent or upcoming college grad, list tools you used in your major studies. BTW, it’s becoming very common that companies use scanners to pick up tools terms, indicating a lot less interest in action verbs.

    • I agree that listing tools are important in some cases, but in our age of technology it is given that most are familiar and accomplished with Office Suite. I think it is more important to list focused skills like the graphic editors and HTML skills you mention. A skill list should always match the level of the position. As a resume writer I would advise a client to focus on the skill set that makes them unique in what they bring to the table. I recently did a pair of resumes for a client with a background in media technology. His prospective employer would not be interested in his abilities in Word, but rather wants to know that he can edit videos and clips. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

      • I concur with the skill list matching the level of the position, I think the jobseeker should also at least consider listing skills that a hiring manager might consider icing on the cake. In the hypothetical example of editing video and clips, if the position has an implicitness of editing for content, for example, I think including writing skills and affiliated tools proficiency can’t hurt and might help. Inclusion would help the jobseeker stand out.

  9. Yes,, Wanda, agreed that icing on the cake is important! Thanks for your continued thoughtful responses. C//

  10. Pingback: Converting a resume to plain text from Microsoft Word. | Exploring communication on all levels….