Employers have to sort through tons of applications and do not plan on thoroughly analyzing all of them. Most of the time, they will just briefly scan each resume submitted and search for the few that really stand out. Because of this, the way you present yourself on paper is just as important as your presentation in person. Being neat, concise, and professional is desirable in any employee, so why not extend this effort to your resume? Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to improve your resume and set yourself apart from other applicants. Here is a list of some of the helpful tips and strategies.
1. Keep it simple
It is important to find a good balance between too much and too little. Employers will not have the time to read your autobiography; hence, most prefer 1-3 pages (maximum). Try to highlight only the most important accomplishments for each section: work experience, qualifications, skills, education, and then move on.
2. Grammar and punctuation
Errors due to a lack of editing make you appear lazy and unprofessional. This will immediately turn off potential employers and is easily avoidable by making sure to proofread and edit your resume before submitting it.
3. Include a cover letter
Unless the employer has specifically requested that you do not attach a cover letter, it is always a good idea to include one in your resume. It should not, however, merely restate what is included in the resume. Use it as an opportunity to express the reasons you would be a good fit for the company and highlight the experiences that reflect this.
4. Customize your resume
Don’t just send out the same old resume for every job application. Tailor it specifically for the company where you are planning on submitting your resume. Include skills and experiences that make you uniquely qualified for the specific job you are trying to get.
5. Be concise
Try to avoid repeating information and focus on keeping things to the point. For example, you should not list all the responsibilities you had at each work experience. Instead, just give a brief overview of your position, scope of responsibilities, and accomplishments. Cutting out extra bulk can also be done by removing unnecessary information. If it does not contribute to your image as the person for the job, then it is probably not worth including.
6. Use bullet points
This will aid in keeping things concise and organized. Listing your qualifications, skills, and experiences in paragraph form can make it difficult for employers to determine what information is significant; hence, using bullets points can allow you to highlight each individual accomplishment. It can also cut out unnecessary bulk from your resume and help you focus on the vital information.
7. Use a basic font
This means you should both choose an easily legible font such as Times New Roman or Calibri and choose a font size that is not too big or too small (usually 10-12 point fonts work well). Italics and bold font can be used to highlight things such as job titles and employers. Try to stay away from crazy colors and other changes to font that would distract employers from reading your resume.
8. Focus on work experience
Move the education section to the bottom. While it is still important, especially if you have recently graduated, employers are probably more interested in your work experiences. If you are applying for your first or second job, you may not have too much work experience yet. In this case, try to focus on any volunteer work and skills that reflect your competency as a potential employee.
9. Provide current and relevant information
Make sure that your resume is updated and contains all the correct contact information (name, email, phone number, etc.). Also, get rid of any old work experience, over 10-15 years old, unless it is particularly useful experience for the specific job. As long as you keep your resume updated, this should not pose too much of an issue.
10. Use a PDF
Unless you are handing in your resume in person or the employer has specified otherwise, submitting your resume as a PDF document is probably the best option. This will ensure that all the formatting shows up properly and it allows employers to have easy access to your resume.
Have you recently applied for a job? Currently in the process of applying? Please share any tips or struggles you may have had creating your application.