Lately, I have been receiving a lot of requests asking me to look over resumes to make sure they are top notch. A resume can be incredibly important because it is, in essence, you. All of your greatest work, achievements, and the reason this company you’re applying to should hire you is all on that piece of paper. I have been noticing a lot of similar mistakes between my peers resumes, so I decided to write up this post on general tips to improve your resume. Remember, it is always best to get a fresh set of eyes to look over your resume before you turn it in to a potential employer. So, let us begin!
5. Only One Full Page
It is critically important that your resume is only one page. This tip is mainly for younger people applying to the workforce. Although it feels like you may have done far more than one page worth, if you are in your late twenties there is still so much more you will be putting on your resume. You need to be able to narrow that down to just one page. Only pick the critical positions and opportunities that highlight your leadership abilities, skills, and other impressive facts. Now, if you are older it is good to still update a single page resume, but you will more likely be using what’s called a CV, or curriculum vitae. This can be multiple pages and is intended to display your life’s work and experience. You should only be using this if you have many more years and experience under your belt. Everyone else, use LinkedIn as your CV.
4. A Typical Format
There are many different formats for writing your resume. The job your applying for may require a different order, titles, etc. I would pick one that you like the most and stick with it. On my resume I have my name and right below that all of my contact information; address, phone number, and email. (Also, it should go without saying that your email is professional. Just your first and last name or some variation of it. No “sexylady332” because the second an employer sees that I guarantee your resume ends that session in their trashcan.)
From here you will add your sections; Education, experience, community service, professional profile, etc. On mine I have the first section listing education with my college and school from abroad. However, if I only have it like this because I am still in school. If you have been in the workforce for a few years it would be better to list your experience first! In my experience, a professional profile, or objective, is really only good for some positions. I personally do not have one because I want to put my leadership and experience as the bulk of my resume, but it is good if you have a bit of room to spare.
3. Short and Sweet!
The people who are going through your resume are likely going through many many others. Not to mention if it is a big enough job there is a high chance a computer is the first to see it. It’s important that you don’t say more than you need to in any part of your resume. Your oldest or lowest level jobs from the past should be no longer than 1-2 bullet points. You may not even have the opportunity to list every single job anyway. Use your best judgement to decide what should be listed, just make sure it demonstrates your leadership, experience, and greatness!
One major mistake that most people make is consistent inconsistencies. Here’s what I mean. Under the experience section I have seen resumes with bullet points and dashes in the same section. Sentences with periods and sentences without. These sort of mistakes can be a killer hiding. Although this seems small, it is enough to be an issue. You need to make sure that whatever format you choose it needs to stay the same throughout. So if you use bullet points and no periods, make sure that your sections that are bullet pointed sentence does not have a period at the end.
1. Stand Out!
This is by far the most important point. All of those other tips get you to the top of the stack, standing out is what gets you the interview. There are a few ways to do this. The biggest is simply using numbers. Did you hold some sort of finance position in your club and handled a few thousand dollars? List that you were in charge of that. A manager in charge of 13 people? Put that down! It makes you stand out so much more saying, “finance chair, managed over $7,000 throughout the year for events” versus “Finance chair, handled our club’s finances”. So use numbers!
The next helpful piece is to utilize your section headings. For instance, my strongest section after “Experience” is “Leadership & Activities”. This tells potential employers exactly what they are looking for. My past experience and why I would make a good leader. Think about what they are looking for and tailor resumes to make it fit. You want to present yourself as what they have been searching for this entire time.
This is a little bit of a PS. There are a few new emerging tactics that can really make you stand out. One method I’ve seen is attaching the company to a website you own and creating a specialized page for them. So on your resume it would look like “www.nickrizzi.com/TheCompany”. When they get to this page it is personalized to them and may just contain your resume or just a little blurb.
Another idea that I’ve seen is using QR codes and adding a head shot on the back of your resume. This video does a good job of explaining what I mean here.