“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Having been in recruiting for the past 25 years, there is not a truer statement about your resume and its impact on job search.
In looking at hundreds of thousands of resumes throughout my career, I have seen every format, font, paper color, mis-spelled or mis-used word, poor attempt at grammar, glamour shot picture, and countless other mistakes that led me to decline someone quickly.
Developing a solid resume is not an easy task. From my experience, however, there are straightforward tips that everyone should apply when developing their resume.
Below are the tips I have given thousands of times to make a resume truly standout from others.
Keep It Simple
Simple choices and an eye for the details are the foundations of a solid resume. To start out correctly with your resume, focus on:
- Format and structure should be simple and consistent
- Font choice should be the same throughout and easily read (ex. Calibri or Verdana)
- Active instead of passive wording (ex. Delivered instead of Responsible for delivery)
- Bulleted statements instead of narrative paragraphs
- Triple check spelling, grammar, punctuation and spacing
Consider Your Audience
A customized resume aligned to the position and company is not only needed, it is expected. Aligning your resume successfully includes:
- A “Career Summary” instead of an objective at the top
- An “Accomplishments” section with 3-5 key accomplishments that align to the role
- Your “Work Experience” section built in chronological order with your most relevant results/responsibilities/accomplishments listed
- Certifications that are relevant to the role/industry
- Professional, community, and charitable organizations' involvement
Show Your Results and Impact
Knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience are critical to show on your resume, however, showing your results and impact are the differentiators that many times gets you the interview. To stand out from other applicants:
- Think of your successes and identify the numbers ($, %, etc.) that quantified the success
- Tie the numbers to the key responsibilities, projects, and initiatives
- The result or impact should always be the first part of the bullet (ex. Delivered $3 million dollars in annual savings through implementation of new HRIS system.)
Leverage Key Terms
Today’s recruiters and applicant tracking systems look for key terms to assist in qualifying a resume quickly. Including the right ones in your resume reinforces your knowledge and more likely contacted for further discussions. To id and integrate the right terminology:
- Review the job posting thoroughly for certain terms, acronyms, software, systems, etc.
- Identify industry terms, acronyms, systems, etc.
I wish I could guarantee by following these tips you will get the interview and job every time. However, taking these tips into account when developing your resume will likely get you selected more often and, in turn, allowing you more interview opportunities than you have had previously.