1. Identify the objective of your resume.
Most of the time it is assumed that the landing a job depends on the resume. This is a very common misconception. Consequently, people create a resume which is lengthy and boring. The purpose of the resume is to land an interview, which in progression can land you the job.
2. Justify your qualities and strengths
Simply stating your strengths and skills would not make the interviewer believe them. They need to be backed up with real life situations and work experience. In failing to do so, your resume will seem exaggerated and make the interviewer skeptic of your capabilities.
3. The power of the right keywords
Most companies, big or small, are already using digital databases to search for candidates. This means that the HR department will run search queries based on specific keywords, and if your resume doesn’t have the keywords related to the job you are applying for, you will be out of the game even before it begins.
We advise you to check the job description and related job ads for a clue on what the employer might be looking for.
4. Use influential job titles
You may not like it but it is quite common for the employers to make a judgment about your resume in 5 seconds. Within this time frame the most important feature will be the titles that you listed on the resume, so make sure they capture the attention. Try to be as descriptive as possible, giving the employer a fair idea about the nature of your past work experiences. For example:
Bad title: Accounting
Good title: Management of A/R and A/P and Recordkeeping
5. Proofreading the resume
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of proofreading your resume. One small error can put your chances of getting hired in danger. Proofreading it once is not enough, so do it twice, three times or as many as necessary.
6. Usage of bullet points
Employers usually lack time and patience when it comes to reading resumes. So make sure to use bullet points and short sentences when describing your experiences, educational background and professional objectives.
7. Where are you heading?
Mentioning professional goals can be beneficial as it will let the employers have an idea of where you are going, and how you want to reach there. It’s not necessary to have a special section dedicated to your professional goals, but overall the resume must communicate it. Whether or not to emphasize your career objectives on the resume is a debatable question among HR managers, so go with your instinct. If you choose to list them, make sure they are not standard and nonspecific.
8. Prioritize your listing
This point applies both to the overall order of your resume, as well as to the individual segments. Mostly your previous work experience will be the most important part of the resume, so put it at the top. When describing your experiences or skills, list the most significant ones first.
9. Take typography into consideration
To begin with, make sure that your fonts are big enough. The smallest you can go is 11 points, but probably 12 would be safer. Use capital letters sparingly, keep in mind that your goal is to communicate a message as quickly and as clearly as possible. As for the types of fonts, Arial and Times are considered as good and desired choices.
10. Avoid including “no kidding” information
Statements like “Available for interview” or “References available upon request” fall under this category. If you are sending a resume to a company, it should be a given that you are available for an interview and that you will provide references if requested. Just avoid items that will make the employer think “no kidding!”
11. Describe the benefits of your skills
Simply stating that you can do something will not catch the attention of the employer. If you manage to explain how it will be beneficial to the company, and to connect it to actual results, then you will greatly improve your chances.
12. Stay away from negativity
This is relevant both to your resume and to interviews. You don’t need to include, for instance, things that you hated about your last company.
13. Achievements instead of responsibilities Illustrating your professional achievements has more positive impact on the employer, and therefore, increases your chances of getting selected, as compared to the long and boring list of “responsibilities”.
14. Use numbers
This point is an extension of the 13th point. If you are describing your past professional achievements, it would be a good idea to strengthen them as much as possible through numbers. Don’t merely mention: that you increased the annual revenues of your division, say that you increased them by $100,000, by 78%, and so on.
15. Different resume for different employer One of the most common mistakes one makes is to create a standard resume for all the job openings that they can find. Sure it saves you time, but it will also greatly decrease the chances of landing an interview (so in reality it could actually mean a waste of time). Customize your resume for each employer, by incorporating the keywords stated in the job posting and stating and highlighting the skills pertaining to that particular job. The same applies to your cover letters.
16. No need to specify all your work experiences
If you have job experiences that are not relevant to the current opportunity, or that you are not proud of, you should just skip them. Stating something you did when you were 17 is probably not going to help you land an executive position unless there is some correlation between the required skills of those positions respectively.
17. Embrace what you have
If you don’t have any real working experience, simply state your summer jobs or any volunteer work you did. If you haven’t got a degree yet, indicate the title and the estimated date of completion. Providing those details are relevant to the job in question, it is not much of consequence whether they are official or not.
18. Sell yourself
Looking for a job is very similar to trying to sell yourself, hence the term “job market”. As long as you don’t cross the line, all the marketing tactics that you can apply in your resume, be it in its content, design, or delivery method and so on, it will give you an edge over the other candidates.
19. Avoid irrelevant information
Irrelevant information such as political affiliation, religion and sexual preference will not get you anywhere. In fact it might jeopardize your chances of landing an interview. Just omit it.
20. Use appropriate title
If you are among those who have a gender neutral name like Alex or Ryan then make sure to include the Mr. or Ms. Prefix, so that employers will not get confused about your gender.
21. No scope of lying
Seems pretty obvious, but you would be amused to discover the amount of people that lie in their resumes. Even small fibs should be evaded. It’s not only wrong, but it can also ruin your credibility in case the HR department does a background check, which is very likely.
22. Keep everything in sync with the salary
The image that you create with your resume must reflect the salary and responsibility level which you are targeting.
23. Analyze job descriptions
One will find plenty of useful information on job ads. Analyze not only the one you will be applying for, but also those from similar companies or from different companies offering related positions. You should be able to identify what profile they are looking for and how the information on your resume should be presented.
24. Ask someone to review your resume
Even if you think your resume looks perfect, it would be a good idea to get a second, and may be also third opinion about it. We usually are oblivious to our own mistakes or way of reasoning, so the other person will be in a better position to evaluate the overall quality of your resume and make appropriate suggestions.
25. Length of the resume
The ideal length for a resume is subjective. Most employers and recruiting specialists, however, say that it should contain one or two pages at maximum. Just keep in mind that the shorter your resume the better, provided all the necessary information is there.
26. Usage of action verbs
A very common advice to job seekers is to use action verbs. But what are they? Action verbs are basically verbs that get noticed more easily, and which will clearly communicate your experiences or achievements. Examples include managed, coached, enforced and planned.
27. Use a good quality printer
If you are going to use a hard copy of your resume, it’s advisable to use a decent printer. Laser printers usually are better option, and plain white paper is the preferred choice.
28. Avoid mentioning hobbies
Unless your hobbies reflect or strengthen your skills which support your candidacy, avoid mentioning them. Share your hobbies with your friends, not potential employer.
29. Revise your resume regularly
It is a good idea to keep updating your resume on a regular basis. Add all the new information that you believe is relevant, as well as courses, training programs and other academic qualifications that you might receive along the way. This is an ideal way to keep track of all important information and to make sure that you will not end up sending an outdated document to the employer.
30. Mention who you worked with/for
If you have reported or worked with someone well known in your industry, it may prove to be beneficial to mention it on the resume. The same thing applies to presidents and CEOs. If you reported to or worked directly with highly ranked executives, add it to the resume.
31. Carefully assembled information
Your resume must have a clear focus. It would cause a negative impression if your information lacks consistency, for example, if you mention that one year you were studying drama, and the next year you were working as an accountant will show a very indecisive nature of the candidate.. Make sure that all the information you will include will work towards a unified image. Employers like decided people.
32. Make your resume legible
Do not overcrowd your resume with text. Sure we said that you should make your resume as short and concise as possible, but that stands for the overall amount of information and not to how much text you can pack in a single sheet of paper. White space between the words, lines and paragraphs can improve the legibility of your resume.
33. List all your positions
In case you have worked a long time for the same company, say over 10 years, it would be a good idea to list all your different positions and roles that you had during this time separately. Most probably you had different responsibilities and you developed different skills on each role, so the employer will like to know it.
34. No slang or jargon
It should be common sense, but believe me, it is not. Slang should never be used in a resume. As for technical jargon, do not presume that the employer will know what you are talking about. Even if you are sending your resume to a company in the same segment, the person who will read it for the first time might not have any technical knowledge.
35. Do not use sample resume templates blindly
There are many websites that offer free resume templates. While they can help you to get an idea of what you are looking for, do not simply copy and paste the most common one. You definitely wouldn’t want your resume to look just like any other candidate’s, would you?
36. Create an email proof lay out
It is very likely that you will be sending your resume via email most of the time. Apart from having a Word document ready to go as an attachment, you should also have a text version of your resume that does not get disfigured in the body of the email or in online forms. Attachments at times get blocked by spam filters, and many people just prefer having the resume on the body of the email itself.
37. Eliminate your older work experiences
If you have been working for 20 years or more, there is no need to have 2 pages of your resume listing all your work experiences, starting with the job at the local coffee shop at the age of 17! Most experts agree that the last 15 years of your career are enough.
38. No embellished resume
Do not use a colored background, fancy fonts or images on your resume. Sure, you might think that the little flowers will cheer up the document, but it may look unprofessional and the other person might just throw it away at the sight.
39. No pronouns
You resume should not contain the pronouns “I” or “me.” That is how we normally structure sentences, but since your resume is already a document about you, using these pronouns is actually needless.
40. Remember the basics
The first thing on your resume should be your name. It should be bold and with a larger font than the rest of the text. Your contact details should be clearly listed. Secondly, both the name and contact details should be included on all the pages of the resume (if you have more than one).
41. Do not hesitate to get professional help
If you are having difficulty in creating your resume, or if you are receiving no response whatsoever from companies, you could consider hiring a professional resume writing service. There are both local and online options available, and usually the investment will be worth the money.