Looking for a new job?
Even if you are in a position you love and that you feel secure in, there’s nothing wrong with looking to the future, keeping your options open, and doing all you can to make sure you are a strong candidate for whatever comes next career-wise.
And while there is a lot to be said for honing your interview skills, keeping an eye on job boards, and social networking to keep your options open, there is one element of your career readiness that can’t be ignored and requires frequent attention. The resume.
Whether you are applying to a job for the first time, or considering a major career switch, you will need a good resume. The resume writing process can often be painful and stressful. You can spend a lot of time on the process and still not know if you’re resume is in-line with best practices.
Well, fear no more: here are our top 10 resume tips that you simply can’t ignore.
1) Clean Up Your Header
The header of your resume should have a very simple set of information on it: who you are, and how to reach you quickly.
It can be tempting to cram the header with other information, like your degree or alma mater info or other titles. While these kinds of qualifications are great to have on your resume, there is a better place to put them.
And as far as contact information goes, do you really need two or three phone numbers, as well as your address listed?
Less is more for your header, as it should look tight and uncluttered. Only put your most relevant contact info and name, and save anything else you are tempted to throw on there for another area.
2) Ditch the “Objective” On Your Resume
If you’ve downloaded a template from the internet (more on templates later…) there may be a section for your “objective.” But trust us, this field is dated and unnecessary.
The person who is reading your resume already knows your objective: to get the job you’re applying for.
Anything else you write in that field is in danger of sounding very inauthentic and generic. Don’t waste the space, and make your resume look sloppily dated and corny, by keeping an objective.
Ditch the “Objective” all together and you are better off. There are much better ways to use the first page of your resume, which is prime real estate.
3) Only Include What’s Relevant
When you are considering what to put on your resume for any given job, the number one most important thing you need to think about is the job you are applying to.
As far as possible, the information you include in your resume should be relevant for the job you are seeking. If it doesn’t, then why is it on your resume?
You may have some very impressive things to write about but if they are not relevant for your job target, consider leaving them out, or at the very least don’t feature them prominently/in detail. You may be able to fly a rocket to the moon, but that’s not of much use if you’re applying for a position as an accountant.
4) Explain Work Gaps
For better or worse, one of the biggest factors that hiring managers and business owners consider when deciding if you are employable, is how employable you have been in the past.
And if you have big gaps in your work history, whether or not they are recent, you may look like a less hireable candidate. Managers are rightfully worried about people who have decided to take a long time off, or who were let go and haven’t been able to land another position.
So to be sure that your work gaps aren’t taken out of context, make sure to explain them the best you can. A good way to do this would be to highlight how you have gained and developed valuable skills while pursuing personal and hobby projects, removed from a traditional occupation.
5) Forget Your GPA
It was once seen as a smart move to include your GPA on your resume, but nowadays there is very little reason to do so. If you have a 4.0 at a good university, go ahead and put it on there. Or, if you are fresh out of college without much work experience, consider leaving a line for your GPA on your resume.
Otherwise, the space could probably be used for something more relevant.
Of course, if you are applying to be a tutor or work in the academic field in some other way, your GPA may be relevant, but you should think critically about whether or not it is really helping your resume in most positions.
A lot of the time, it will only make you look inexperienced and young, and take space away that could be used to highlight real, relevant experience.
6) Take off the References, Too
If you have an area on your resume devoted to professional references, or put reference and contact information after each position, don’t. There is a time and place for that, but your resume is neither.
Most positions that require references will explicitly state as much, and you can submit your references on a cleanly typed and neatly labeled separate document.
Putting your references on your resume takes up a ton of valuable space, and doesn’t do too much for you to make you a more competitive candidate.
7) Don’t Lie
This sounds simple enough, but can be slightly nuanced.
You want to make sure that you creatively highlight all of your strengths in all of your positions, and sometimes that means stressing skills that may not have been the most important in any given role.
But you should NEVER lie outright on your resume. Exaggeration can be justified or explained away, but if you are caught in a lie, you can kiss your employment chances goodbye. So just don’t do it.
8) Customize your Resume for Each Position
Sound like a lot of work? It is, but it pays off. Especially for jobs that you are very keen on.
If you hand in a cookie cutter, one size fits all resume for each position, you really aren’t doing any work to think about what is relevant for the job you are applying to.
By customizing your resume for each position you apply for, you will stand out from the litany of effortless resumes from your competitors. It will also help you get past application tracking systems.
Don’t worry about changing fonts, looks, or contact info, just make sure that the most relevant experience is highlighted/included.
At a minimum, you should have a few different resumes for jobs that require different knowledge, skills and abilities.
9) Be Smart with Bullet Points
First, you should always use bullet points in your resume, and shun away from long sentences or longer lists. Bullet points save you space, make your resume look more professional, and convey your strengths much more efficiently.
Second, be smart with your bullet points. Put your most valuable skills obtained from each position higher up on bulleted lists, and make sure you don’t get lazy and put long sentences underneath each bullet.
10) Highlight the Benefit You Bring to a Company
This is probably one of the hardest skills to master when constructing your resume, but definitely one of the biggest things you can do to make yourself irresistible from an employer’s perspective.
Instead of just focusing on your experience and the skills you’ve gained, think about how you can frame those to seem valuable to your future employer.
In discussing your past work, put extra attention on times you have saved past employer’s money, accomplished unique objectives, or otherwise added irreplaceable value. And then spin these experiences to make them seem as applicable as possible to the job you want.
This will take some practice and a lot of editing, but will be worth it in the end.
Here are a few more straightforward tips that might seem obvious, but are absolutely essential in constructing an effective resume.
- Title your filename with searchability and uniqueness in mind. Definitely include your name in the resume and maybe a few words about you (e.g. Top rated analyst).
- Play it straight. Humor can be a great tool in interviews, but it can make you look unprofessional on your resume. It can also be taken out of context.
- Ditch the fluff words. If your resume isn’t easy to understand, you can bet it won’t make an impression.
- Spell out acronyms. The manager who reads your resume may not know every acronym you use.
- Use a standard font. Don’t get too flashy, and go for readability in formatting.
- DON’T USE A RESUME TEMPLATE without customize it extensively. Otherwise, you can’t hope to standout.
- Write in third person.
- Share Experience chronologically.
- Don’t be modest. Believe in yourself, and maybe the person reading your resume will too.