Your resume is your primary marketing piece and your first chance to catch an employer’s attention and make a good impression. 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.
There are a few essential components to the content of a good resume:
- First, put your name (in a larger font than the rest) across 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. Having your contact information at the top makes it easy for an employer to contact you to schedule an interview.
- Next, write your objective. Writing a good objective can be tricky because it is intended to state what you are trying to accomplish, 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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. An easy way to make a well-formatted resume is to use a template. Microsoft Word has some free templates worth considering, or there are many other downloadable options online as well. However, 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 an artsy-looking resume with clip art or pictures, 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.
Check out some example resumes.
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