Whether you’ve just graduated with a new degree or are simply seeking new employment, possibly the single most important job-search communication you will need is a professional resume. Your resume is your personal marketing tool to promote your skills and experience to a prospective employer.
Here are my top-ten tips to help you create a visually appealing resume that can earn you your next interview:
1. PROOFREAD! I cannot stress this step enough. Some employers will reject a resume simply because of a single error in spelling, grammar or punctuation. The thought is that if you did not demonstrate the attention to detail required to produce an error-free resume, you might not be detail-oriented enough to perform the job duties for that position.
2. Be objective. Writing a resume can be one of the most difficult documents you will ever write because it is difficult to be objective about your own skills and experience while, at the same time, promoting your greatest strengths.
3. Be concise. Use bullet points to provide information that a prospective employer can quickly skim to decide if he or she is interested in contacting you for an interview. Paragraph text requires someone to carefully read and comprehend the information; key words are sometimes missed if the reader quickly skims a paragraph.
4. Be precise. Employers like to see specifics. Rather than say that you “increase revenue,” specify that you increased revenue by a certain percentage in a certain timeframe.
5. Use action words. Start your bullet points with action words like performed, managed, or provided. These words are stronger than a simple statement like responsible for. You can also use modifiers like successfully before your action words. These words, combined with the active voice, make your message stronger. Your tone will suggest to the reader that you are someone who will get things done.
6. Be consistent. Use the same font, sizes and spacing throughout the resume. That does not mean that your headings have to be the same size as your bullet text, but all headings should be the same size and all bullet text should be the same size.
7. Use your white space. A resume should successfully integrate both visual and verbal elements. In plain English, a resume should look attractive and not like a dense block of text that will be difficult to read. If the reader has already decided that he or she does not like your resume based solely on the document design, he or she probably will not spend enough time skimming the content to see your outstanding skills and expertise.
8. Make your name stand out. Your name should be a slightly larger font size than all other text on the page. Remember, the resume is a marketing tool to promote your skills and experience. Your name should jump off the page.
9. Make a scannable version. No matter what resume type you use (reverse chronological, functional or custom), a scannable version of your content will save you time when applying for positions online. The employer’s application tool will more easily identify your information and place the data into the correct fields, saving you time when filling out the application.
10. PROOFREAD!!! Did I mention that this is really, really important? Even if you are sure that everything is grammatically correct, do you have any factual errors? Remember to check your contact information as well. How can the employer contact you for your interview if your email address is wrong?
No advice can guarantee you that you will be called for an interview, but if you follow these steps, your resume should get the attention it deserves.