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
- 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!