Resume Writing Tips
Begin by determining your objective (do this prior to writing the resume).
Clearly state what sort of a job you want and know what skill-set and
experience is needed to do well in that job. After your objective is
determined, you can structure the content of your resume around that
objective. You have a small window of time to get the interest
of a hiring manager, and being scattered will only get your resume filed
in the "circular file" - i.e. - the trash can. Take the time before
you start your resume to form a clear and obtainable objective.
You have your objective - you're on your way. Now let's begin the resume
writing process. Keep in mind, your resume is a marketing tool to get
you in the company and in front of the decision maker. Once in, you
will need to do the sales pitch, and close the deal. With that said,
you don't need to go into detail about every accomplishment in your
resume. Strive to be clear and concise, as the purpose is to generate
enough interest in you to have an potential employer contact you for
an interview. Bottom line - put yourself in the shoes of the resume
reader - when looking at the job qualifications needed for the position;
what would you be looking for in a candidate - Obviously, that's what
you need to include in your resume.
1.) Use Bulleted Sentences
In the body of your resume, use bullets with short sentences rather
than lengthy paragraphs. Resumes are read quickly, therefore make key
phrases stand out. Bulleting information will help the reader
view your accomplishments at a glance. Again, don't worry about
the specifics; you will go into the details during the interview.
2.) Use Action Words
Use action words - words like prepared, managed, developed, championed,
monitored, and presented will cause your resume to stand out.
We've compiled a list of action words, take a look at them: action word
examples. If your resume is scanned electronically, the computer will
pick up on the words. You read correctly, some companies now scan in
your resume, and have computers pull those that meet certain criteria.
The computers are looking for one thing - they are looking for keywords
that have been picked by the hiring manager. These are action keywords
that relate to the position, so not including them could mean your resume
is disregarded as a "non-match".
3.) Use %'s, $'s and #'s
You should always use %'s, $'s and #'s. Dollar totals, numbers, and
percentages stand out in the body of a resume. Below are two examples
of a job duty described with them (good), and without (bad). As you
can see by the examples, being specific does not mean being lengthy.
Bad: Account manager for
Good: Managed 15 strategic
accounts billing in excess of $15MM annually
Bad: Sold widgets to clients
located in the Midwest
Good: Increased sales by
17% in a 5-state territory
4.) Highlight your strengths
Highlight your strengths, and what is most relevant to the potential
employer. In-coming resumes are typically reviewed in 10-30 seconds,
so put forth the effort and determine which bullets most strongly support
your job search objective. Put the strong and most relevant points first
where they are more apt to be read. This is your hook for the reader,
the rest of your resume reels them in.
5.) Match the need they have
Match the need they have - Review job postings online and in the newspapers
for positions that interest you. Each position will usually have a brief
blurb about the company and the position available. Use the keywords
listed in these ads, and match them to the bullet points in your resume.
Chances are that you have some of these as key points already, however
if you have missed any, add them to your resume. Using a custom resume
instead of a generic one will greatly increase your chances of an interview,
as you will be a better match in the eyes of the reader.
6.) Be positive
Above all in your resume and interview - you must be positive. Therefore,
leave off negatives and irrelevant points. If you feel your graduation
date will subject you to age discrimination, leave it off your resume.
If you do some duties in your current job that don't support your job
search objective, don't include them. Focus on the duties that do support
your objective, and leave off irrelevant personal information like your
race, weight, and height.
7.) White space is important
Ad Design 101 - White space is important. Open up the newspaper, and
take note of which ads first catch your attention. Are they the ads
that are jammed full of text, or are they ads that have a large amount
of unused space ("white space"). This is done to grab your attention,
as readers are always attracted to open areas. For this reason, don't
worry if you are having a hard time filling the page with text; increase
your line spacing to compensate.
8.) Formatting Guidelines
How long should my resume be? What size font should I use? - The font
size should be no smaller than 10 point, standard serif or sans serif
fonts. Don't use intricate fonts that are hard to read.
Keeping your fonts standard will help combat conversion issues from
PC to MAC and from one program version to another. The length
of your resume should be 1-2 pages. Yes, you read correctly; you can
use more than one page. But remember, keep it concise. It's ok to use
two pages for your resume, however it is not necessary.
9.) Get 3rd Party Advice
Ask a friend, and get an outside opinion on your resume before sending
it off. - Have a friend or resume critique service review your resume.
Since you are so close to your situation, it can be difficult for you
to note all your high points and clearly convey all your accomplishments.
Having someone subjectively review your resume can give you insight
into how others will view your personal marketing materials - would
your resume impress them? If not, why? Don't settle for - "it's good",
and encourage them to ask questions. The questions of the reader can
help you to discover items you inadvertently left off your resume. Take
their comments into consideration, and revise your resume accordingly.
In addition to adding in missed items, their questions can also point
to items on your resume that are confusing to the reader.
10.) Start Applying
OK, you're ready! Start applying - Apply for some jobs that appear to
be above your qualifications, apply to positions that are a match, and
apply to positions which may be below your level. Why? Perhaps the position
below will turn out to be more than it appeared once you interview for
them. Or perhaps once you have your foot in the door you can learn of
other opportunities. If nothing else, interviewing more and more will
increase your interviewing skills. Like anything else, repetition will
decrease your nervousness, and increase your skills at attacking tough