Stay concise, focus on accomplishments, and don’t hold back
Do you think the perfect resume is a subjective idea? The recipe for an outstanding resume is actually fairly universal in terms of look, length, and basic content. With the right approach, you can churn out a stellar resume that will appeal to potential employers and land an interview for your dream job. Here are some resume writing tips and a sample resume to get you started.
- Design is crucial.
Your layout matters. Your font matters. Your type size and masthead matter. Selecting them should be equally as important as your job descriptions, because a poorly formatted resume will turn off hiring managers – they will move right on to the next candidate. Try sticking to basic sans serif fonts (no more than two, total), avoid going any lower than 11-point text size, and make sure the most important things like your job title and place of employment, stand out the most. Make sure you don’t cram too much onto the page – plentiful white space makes it easier to scan. As for the length, you can never go wrong with one page. Consider posting an extended version on your personal Web site for reference. Check out these resume tips for first-time job hunters.
- Build your resume around the essentials.
Not sure which duties and responsibilities to include for each job? Consider brainstorming your accomplishments first. Did you have any special appointments? Record sales? Were you put in charge of managing or coordinating any projects? List the biggest stuff first, and always use actionable verbs to describe them (e.g., “chaired the committee”, “coordinated schedules” , etc.). Smaller duties are certainly important, but knowing how to process invoices and manipulate templates in InDesign may be more relevant in cover letters, where you can discuss how capable you’ll be in a specific job. Discover the essential elements of resume style.
- Think about the job you’re applying for.
You will often hear the words “tailor your resume,” which means you should highlight what makes you most qualified for the job you’re applying for. Dropping job-specific keywords into your descriptions works well, but don’t go overboard – make sure you’re staying true to your own abilities while underscoring what makes you an excellent fit for the position. Don’t be afraid to talk yourself up. Hiring managers look for confident candidates, and this will shine through in your resume.
- Don’t skip the spell-check.
Proofread, spell-check, copyedit, and repeat. Make this your mantra! Leaving mistakes in the one professional reflection of yourself speaks worlds to a hiring manager and could leave you without a job. Try to stay away from superlative, self-flattering terms (e.g., “highly skilled”, “very motivated”, “expertly executed”, etc.). Let your accomplishments and job history speak for you. If you’re disseminating your resume via e-mail, make sure you’re sending it as a PDF – not as a text document. A PDF will retain your resume’s formatting, fonts, and spacing. Plus, it will open on most computers, whereas – a text document may not. Check out these 202 great resumes.
- Enlist resume reviewers.
Ask a friend, colleague, mentor, or all three to read your resume. Even if you’ve read through it 100 times, there is probably something you missed. A fresh perspective often helps you be more concise and expand the content as needed. If you’re snail-mailing your materials, make sure you use high-quality paper. Avoid stapling or folding it, and don’t forget a cover letter.