I am often asked to edit a friend or family members’ resume, so I wanted to provide some advice to job seekers out there on how to write an effective resume. A resume is typically your first opportunity to present yourself professionally. Often times the resume alone will determine whether a candidate is selected for an in-office interview. This is especially true for entry level roles or any role that generally has a high volume of applicants.
I have listed 5 tips to help you develop a resume that will help you get the job you are applying to.
1. Organization and Content.
A good resume will have a nice, easy to read layout. Generally, the layout will include the candidate name and contact information at the top of the page. A brief overview or objective follows, with education information below that. Work experience, volunteer experience, and/or listed relevant skills will appear towards or at the bottom of the page.
The name and contact information should always be listed at the top of the resume. The name should also stand out, so that it is the first thing the viewer sees. This can easily be done by using a slightly larger font size, font type or color. This helps the resume look interesting and less template-like. The contact information should also show at the top in a decent sized font. I would not choose a size smaller than 11. The objective is not a must have. I recommend that high school or college students have objectives, because most times a hiring manager cannot look at your resume only to get an idea of the type of job you are interested in.
The content of the resume should be well-written, grammar free and up-to-date. The resume should show in chronological order from top to bottom (top page would have the most recent experience).
2. Format and Consistency.
Formatting your resume correctly is very important. First we want to be sure that we have a clean font, like Calibri, Arial or something similar for any resume text outside of the name, which we’ve mention should be a little creative. We also want to keep a font size of at least 11. You’ll be surprised how many resumes hiring teams receive that are simply too difficult to read or in a really tiny print.
Another area of formatting the resume is ensuring that you have saved the resume as both a Word document and a PDF. Sometimes certain applicant systems do not recognize anything saved as another file type. I’ve even had the experience of an applicant system change a certain font into an unreadable format due to the type of document it is saved as. I definitely do not want this to be you! It is always helpful to provide both a doc and pdf version of your resume.
Lastly, we want to make sure that the resume is consistent. For example, if your header sections are in a certain font or size, we need to ensure all headers are listed this way. Another example is to, when providing bullets to ensure the ending of the bullet either has a period at the end of not. It’s easy to miss this, but we want to stay consistent throughout.
3. Keep it to One Page. Unless you have 15+ of experience, you should really only have a one page resume. There are a few reasons behind this. First, one-pagers are very easy to read and straight to the point, which is exactly what hiring managers and recruiters want to see. Next, it’s very easy to pass along to others in various formats. Have you ever tried to pass along multiple pages to someone? You need to have it paper clipped or stapled and risk a page or two getting lost. The one page resume is easy to share after a networking event or career fair in paper format or via email. Lastly, hiring teams and recruiters expect the most important information to show on the first page. If you were to have relevant information on the second or (dare I say it) third page it may be missed. A one page resumes ensures that the most recent and related information is highlighted.
4. Spell Check and Read. I cannot stress this one enough. It seems so straightforward. In many cases a person will spellcheck the resume and not read through the resume to ensure it is error free. Remember spellcheck will not check for grammar or formatting errors. We should read through the resume to also ensure the content flows well and highlights appropriate skills and experience. As mentioned, we should only have one page to review. You can do this. Don’t skip this step!
5. Cater your resume to the job. Use relevant keywords in your resume language that are in the job description you are applying to. Take note of synonyms as well. An example of this can be the words communication and “public relations”. Both are used interchangeably, while having very slight difference in meaning. You may use the words “public relations”, while the job description asks for communication or PR skills. The job description may ask for things like AP style, experience with media, or social marketing. In this case you would definitely want to include these keywords if you hold the experience.
Some applicant systems allow for rankings based on the keywords in a resume. The system would match up with the listed job description and bring those that rank highly to the top of a recruiter applicant list. At my company we do not use this system, because we do not want to exclude candidates that may be a match, however many companies do. Please be sure to cater your resume to the job, it can only help you during your job search.
Check out the picture below for a snapshot of a resume template to assist you.
Please leave a comment if you have questions or would like a template emailed to you directly.