Your resume is your primary marketing piece and your first chance to catch an employer’s attention. In order to stand out from the other applicants and be among those who are called for an interview, your resume must be well written and well formatted. Use this guide and these templates to create a resume that will make a stellar first impression.
There are certain things that every good resume must have in it’s content:
First, put your name (in a larger font than the rest) at the top of the page. Underneath your name, include your contact info (phone number, address, and email) in the regular font size that you will use for the body of the resume or smaller. Having your contact information at the top makes it easy for an employer to find it and contact you to schedule an interview.
Objective OR Personal Profile
Next, you could write an objective. Writing a good objective can be tricky because it is intended to state what you are trying to accomplish (specifically, which job you are trying to attain), yet it should be focused on how you would benefit the employer. Refer to the specific job you are applying for in the objective, and make the objective concise and specific. See the examples in the resume templates below.
Objectives are sometimes seen as outdated, so you might want to consider your other option, a personal profile. This is a short summary of your skills, experiences, attributes, and unique qualifications that make you the best candidate for the job. It’s a little easier to stand out through a personal profile than an objective. Another benefit of the profile is that even if it’s all an employer reads, he will at least get a good summary of you and what you have to offer.
Your profile should be concise (between 1-4 sentences) and it can be in paragraph or bullet form. It is important to choose skills and qualifications of yours that match the job description. Therefore, your profile should be adjusted to highlight different qualifications depending on the job for which you are applying.
Third, include your relevant work experience. Put your most recent job first, followed by the second most recent, etc. For each job, include your job title, the company it was with, the location, the dates you started and ended, and the outcomes of your work. Go beyond simply listing the responsibilities you had, and instead focus on what you were able to do for the company and how you made a difference. Flaunt specific numbers if possible, like how much you increased sales, cut costs, or slashed the turnover rate. Also, include some of the key words and phrases written in the job posting of the company you are applying for. If they are looking for an “experienced sales associate to reach sales goals, deliver excellent customer service, and be an effective team member,” then focus on how you reached sales goals, helped customers with their needs, and collaborated well with coworkers in your past work.
Education goes below the job experience on the resume, unless you are still a student, in which case the education section belongs at the top. Include the college you graduated from or are currently attending, your major, and the dates you started and ended.
THE ALWAYS AVOID LIST:
- Spelling and grammatical errors: spell check, reread your resume multiple times, and have someone else proofread it for you. This is especially important if the job you’re applying for is one that requires attention to detail.
- Avoid lies and half-truths. Don’t be dishonest about job dates and don’t make it look like you’ve graduated if you haven’t. In short, just be honest. Pamela Skillings from biginterview.com said,
“If you lie on your resume, you’re taking a big risk. First of all, you’re very likely to get busted during the background and reference checks. Even if you get lucky and make it through the hiring process, dishonesty on your resume can get you fired down the road — even if you’ve been doing a great job…Another common fib is with languages. Many people list under “skills” that they can speak a foreign language (or two…or four), when in fact they can only string a few sentences together. Don’t think you won’t eventually be found out – you will. And trust me, it’s tough to learn Japanese in a weekend.”
- Don’t make it too long. Your resume should be about a page unless you’re a very experienced professional in which case your resume could potentially be 2 pages. Be concise and use the space on the page efficiently, although don’t use a font that is too small to read and don’t take away all margins. Some white space on the page makes the resume look pleasing to the eye and more reader-friendly.
- Never list references directly on your resume. List them on a separate sheet and only provide them if requested.
- Don’t use the words “I” or “we”. If you used one of these words on one line, you would have to on every line, which would be redundant and unnecessary.
Outcomes vs. Tasks/Duties:
When writing what you did at past jobs in your “Experience” section, don’t just list generic job descriptions that describe your usual duties and responsibilities. If the employer reading your resume is in the same field, chances are he or she will know more or less what you did in the day-to-day just by reading the job title.
Highlight only unique and really relevant duties from previous jobs, and then use most of the space to tell how well you did your job. In other words, tell them about your completed projects, significant achievements, and specific numbers and facts that show your success. For example, phrases like, “Increased sales by 15%” or “Ranked 2nd among sales representatives in customer retention” are specific achievements that back up the skills and abilities you say you have.
If you don’t have numbers to support you, be specific in describing your achievements with detailed words. Focusing on the outcomes of your work makes you stand out from other people with similar job duties and shows you are unique in your success. Your achievements demonstrate that you didn’t just do a job, you did it well, you are hard-working and ambitious, and you have the motivation to go above and beyond.
Katharine Hansen, a professional resume writer at Quintessential Careers, advises to ask yourself, “how have I helped this company to…”
- make money
- save money
- save time
- make work easier and more efficient
- solve a specific problem
- be more competitive
- build relationships
- expand the business
- attract new customers
- retain existing customers
Write in Past or Present Tense?
When writing about past jobs that you no longer have, write in past tense. When writing about your current job, write in present tense. When writing about projects or other things you did in the past at your current job but that you no longer do, write them in past tense and only use present tense for your current responsibilities.
Active vs. Passive Voice
While some people write in passive voice on their resume because it sounds formal, it actually comes across as boring, unimpressive, and, well, passive. You want to show that you’re a competent, aggressive, and active candidate. Passive voice does not reflect that! Avoid phrases like “duties included,” and “responsible for.” These are what would be seen on a job description. Instead, choose action-oriented verbs such as managed, organized, increased, created, led, directed, oversaw, improved, solved. Not only do these words sound more impressive, but they also help create more concise and direct sentences.
Passive: Biweekly sales goals were reached 97 % of the time.
Active: Achieved sales goals 97% of the time.
Passive: Responsible for hiring and training new employees.
Active: Hired and trained new employees.
See more great word choices here:
Here are a few important guidelines to pay attention to beyond just the content of your resume.
Still in School?
If you are still in school and have little work experience, you can include jobs you had in high school, volunteer experience, college clubs/organizations you are involved in, and internships. However, after college and as you progress in your career, remove these and only include more relevant and recent information.
Switch Up Your Resume!!!
Avoid using one generic resume for all job applications. Tailor your resume to each job you apply for and the specific skills and characteristics they are looking for in an employee. It is a good idea to have a few different versions of resumes to pull from. For example, you might have one resume that highlights your experience and skills in marketing, another in product development, and another in sales. Then, depending on the job you are applying for, you can adjust these versions even more to the specific position you want to obtain.
Make it Look Good
While content is most important, making your resume visually appealing could also help get an employer’s attention. A resume that is pleasing to the eye demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail. A simple and thin font is best, such as Tahoma, Book Antiqua, or Georgia. Keep the font size between 9-12 so it is easy to read. Be professional and avoid making an artsy-looking resume with clip art or pictures, or excessive color, designs, or lines.
Make your resume well organized so it is easy to skim and find the most important information. Make the headings clear, avoid excessive and cramped text, and stick to short paragraphs and bullets. If an employer only looks at your resume for a few seconds, it needs to be clear and easy to navigate so he can find what he’s looking for.
Bullets make your resume more reader-friendly and concise. Be consistent in bulleting, either use them throughout or don’t use them at all. In your “Experience” section, each job should have 2-5 bullet points. Make each point count! Don’t put too many words per bullet. 1-2 lines are all you need.
USE A TEMPLATE.
Once all of your content is written and in order, an easy way to make a well-formatted resume is to use a template. Why use a template? As explained on hloom.com,
“A good template can really help you streamline your resume and keep it organized and professional without taking up a lot of your time, allowing you to focus on the actual content, as well as searching for your next job. It helps you add a touch of personality, stay structured and consistent and present your experience in a chronological, easy to read manner.”
However, when everyone uses the same template, it no longer stands out. To avoid coming across as the same-old generic resume, use a quality template as a guide, and then change a few things to make it yours.
Look no further—here are 5 free templates you can work with to make your resume look amazing.
Resume originally posted on https://resources.resumehelp.com
Resume originally posted on http://career-advice.monster.com
ONCE YOUR RESUME IS READY TO GO…
Saving Your Resume
It’s important to save your resume (and cover letter) as a PDF file if you are submitting it electronically. If a company doesn’t have the same program or version of Word that you have, your format could be altered in the transfer, and all of your hard work put into formatting would be a waste. If you save your resume as a PDF, it will definitely be received in its original format.
Naming Your File
If an employer receives 50 resumes and they’re all named, “myresume.doc”, he’s going to have a hard time distinguishing who they belong to. Include your full name in the resume title. For example, “Ashley Smith Resume”, or “Resume for Ashley Smith.”
Printing for In-Person Submission
Spend a few cents extra and print your resume on high quality white or ivory paper. Consider using resume paper, which can be purchased at office supply stores. It makes a professional first impression, which is an especially good idea when applying to a more formal position/company. Print the cover letter and resume on separate sheets of paper, never print double-sided. Avoid stapling your cover letter and resume together. The best option is to submit them in a folder. Even if you don’t need to submit a paper copy of your resume when applying, it’s a good idea to have a few copies on-hand when you go to an interview (for you or the interviewers to refer to).
Match Your Cover Letter
Since the cover letter and resume go together, you want to be consistent and make sure they match visually. This will show your attention to detail and professionalism.
Here are some great rules of thumb to consider:
- Use the same font(s) in both your cover letter and resume.
- For in-person submission, print both on the same high-quality paper.
- Match the formatting. For example, if you use lines to separate sections in your resume, use those lines in the header and footer of the cover letter. If you use an accent color in your resume, use it in the cover letter. Whatever format you choose, use it on both pages.
For more information on how to write an excellent cover letter, click here.
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