How many times have you picked up a magazine while waiting for an appointment and flipped through the hundreds of pages of articles? How long did it take you to decide whether or not to turn the page? Studies show that most people make this decision in less than 5 seconds.
This is the exact same scenario with your resume—it can be discarded within a matter of seconds. An example I always use to highlight this reality came during my experience as a recruitment agent in London. I was to fill a new job opening as an equities trader for one of the most prestigious investment firms in the UK. I was asked to select the top 10 resumes to forward onto the hiring manager. I advertised the job on a Monday and by Thursday I had over 300 resumes sitting in my inbox. I did not have the time to sit and read through every line of each resume sitting there, let alone the hundreds more that would follow. I had to “scan” the resumes and eliminate the weak or moderate ones right away. This is a very typical scenario, especially in this current economic climate. Your resume needs to be convincing from the start.
When applying for jobs, you can bet that 50% of all the other applicants have similar skills and knowledge. So how do you make your resume stand out from the others? How do you ensure that you’re at least given the chance to present yourself in person?
Your resume is a marketing document, a convincing reason to want to meet with you for an interview. Without an appealing and marketable resume that contains information employers require, you will not get the job you want. Of course, never forget the complementary role a cover letter plays. A cover letter goes hand in hand with the resume. Good resume and bad cover letter end up in the same place—the trash bin.
Remember, your resume is the greatest asset you have—don’t forget this!
Find below a list of my top 10 resume tips:
Keep it professional. Your resume is a business document, so it must be professional. Your resume is no place for gimmicks, pictures, or funny email addresses. Although you may think you look great in your picture or that your email address is funny (yes, I have seen email@example.com), this is not required on your resume. You may think it looks great, but your employer may disagree. Stick to the facts and keep it professional!
The more targeted your resume is, the better you have at landing an interview. Employers want to know exactly what you can do for their company. It is important that you tailor each resume to each job (it will only take a few sentences to do this). Get rid of any information that is not required for a particular job. This will alleviate the tendency to overcrowd your resume with too much irrelevant information.
A well-written, concise resume will make a greater impression with your employer than a long winded “padded” resume. Use positive action words such as: enhanced, influenced, restructured, and attained. This will add that extra boost to your resume. On the same hand, avoid everyday buzz words. Remember, your resume needs to focus on your key skills and achievements. Words such as “hard worker,” “reliable” and “ambitious ” can have a more detrimental effect on your resume as these words are seen as adding no value to resume.
Your resume is a marketing document. Promote and sell yourself! Do not be scared to sell your skills, accomplishments, and abilities. If you don’t tell the employer, no one else will. Focus on what you can offer the business rather than what the business can offer you. Emphasise your skills, especially the ones the job is asking for. An employer wants to know that you have the relevant skills for that particular job. If a coffee shop is hiring a barista, and you’ve already worked as one, make your skills stand out and take centre stage. Just like with the example of skimming over the magazines, you need your employer to take one glance at your resume and want to read on.
- Tailor your resume
Very important – one size fits all approach does not work here. Every job is different, and depending on what the job is, you need to make sure you tweak your resume (and cover letter) for that particular job. Ask yourself, “What job am I going for, and does my resume have the skills and strengths required to present to my future employer?” Tailoring your resume to the specific job you’re going for will show the hiring manager that you are serious about working for their organisation.
- Quality, not quantity
Quality not quantity! Your resume is not a life story. Stick to the facts— using irrelevant data, waffling, and padding your resume are detrimental. Let your skills and experience do the talking for you.
Forget about fancy fonts or clever uses of italics. Keep it simple. Your resume is not meant to be a work of art to be displayed on the wall. Not only can it be hard to read, but there are multiple scanning software programs that might be unable to read it, meaning it will end up being deleted before even being opened.
- Spelling /Grammar/Punctuation
Every word program these days has spell check—USE IT! Poor spelling and grammar will immediately land your resume in the “deleted items” box. It is a hard enough to get an interview—do not let yourself down with basic spelling mistakes. Re-read every word yourself, and get someone else to read it as well.
Be sure that your resume is written in a commonsense way—in order, logical, and easy to read. Be consistent throughout your resume with your margins, fonts, and line spacing. Don’t be scared to accentuate your skills or achievements with a different style of font or by using a bold font (but remember keep it simple. There is a fine line of going overboard when using different font styles). Consistency shows professionalism.
- Do not mention money
Unless you are directly asked about money, do not mention it. Keep your cards close to your chest. Do not rule yourself out before you even begin because of money.
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