Creating a Better Resume
By: Peter Panacy, Staffing Coordinator
A resume is one of the most vital pieces of information you’ll need when it comes to landing a job. Resumes are, essentially, your ticket to an interview. Creating one that stands out from the dozens, or even hundreds, of others is vital to the process.
Resumes are an art form. Visually appealing resumes stand out much better than disorganized, convoluted resumes. And there isn’t necessarily one correct way to create a resume, but there are plenty of wrong ones.
Your Resume Is an Advertisement – SELL YOURSELF: Hiring managers typically spend an average of 10 seconds looking over each resume they receive. And the top one-third of your resume will garner the most attention. List your skills and attributes close to the top just below your name and contact information. All your subsequent information (work experience, education, etc.) will merely supplement your skill set.
- TIP: Make your name stand out on your resume. Center it, bold it, increase the font size or use a different font altogether. You want your name to catch the attention of the hiring manager.
- TIP: Objectives at the top of your resume are nice but not always necessary. If you choose to use one, keep it to one or two sentences at most. You don’t need an entire paragraph.
- TIP: Do not list your physical address on your resume. Believe it or not, companies will consider not hiring you based on where you live (i.e. too far of a commute, etc.). They can also look up the value of your home and determine property value, which can affect salary negotiations. It’s not ethical, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. All you need is your phone number and email address. And use a professional email – not like the one you had back in high school or college.
Focus on Your Accomplishments, Not Just Your Job Description: You probably had a lot of duties at your last job. And many of those will translate over towards the position to which you are applying. But hiring managers want to know what you accomplished and not just the things for which you were responsible. This is the way to brag about how you actually improved your previous place of employment.
- TIP: Place your most noteworthy assets right below your skill set. If you want to feature your work experience, put it towards the top of the resume. If your education is most important, place that towards the top.
- TIP: Use action verbs like “accomplished,” “directed,” “oversaw,” “created,” “implemented,” “increased,” and so on to demonstrate your abilities.
If It Doesn’t Help, It Hurts: Think of your resume as a prime piece of real estate. Anything that doesn’t serve a specific purpose will hurt you. Irrelevant information, poor formatting, spelling/grammatical errors and improperly used space can ruin a resume.
- TIP: References or “references available on request” are not a wise use of space unless you need to fill a substantial gap. References are typically needed after an interview and not during this stage. And you’ll be perfectly willing to provide references if requested.
- TIP: Two-page resumes are OK these days especially if you are applying to clerical or highly competitive jobs. One-page resumes are typically suited more for entry-level positions and/or positions requiring less experience.
Target Your Resume: It’s OK to have three, four or even 10 different versions of your resume. Just make sure you’re targeting your resume to the specific position for which you are applying. Create a master resume with everything you’ve ever done and that you’ll never submit to anyone. Individualize separate resumes from this master tailored to the specific requirements of the position.
Be Clear and Concise: Resumes should focus more on your skill set rather than every little thing you’ve ever done in your professional career. Think about specific attributes you have that are directly related to the position for which you are applying.
- TIP: Don’t get overly wordy. Wordiness can cloud a resume and make it visually unappealing. You want to lay out your abilities, but make sure you stick to the point.
Pay Attention to the Details: Resumes with poor spelling, grammar and formatting show a lack of attention on your part. Ensure your formatting and alignment is consistent throughout your entire resume. And don’t be afraid to run your resume through a spelling/grammar check program to catch any errors you may have missed.
- TIP: Give your resume plenty of review time. If you don’t think it looks right, it probably doesn’t. It also doesn’t hurt to have a second pair of eyes reviewing your resume. Ask for help.
Be Sure to Account for Employment Gaps: You may have a period of time on your resume when you weren’t working. Periods of one year or longer typically require some sort of explanation – either on the resume itself or during an interview.
- TIP: Consider adding volunteer work you may have performed while not in the work force.
DON’T EVER LIE: Believe it or not, it happens. Don’t put anything on your resume that isn’t 100 percent truth. And you don’t want to embellish anything either. If the position is calling for five years of expertise in Industry X but you only have three years, don’t tweak and embellish it. When in doubt, leave it out.
Use High Quality Paper: You want your resume to stand out, right? Don’t submit a hard copy of your resume on plain copy paper. Go spend the few extra bucks on proper resume paper. These can be off-white, ivory, cream, light grey or some other presentable color shade. And heavier weight paper can be a nice touch.
For more resume information: