5 Tips for Resume Writing
Whether you are entering the workforce or changing jobs, there is one document that is your vehicle to being seen and getting your foot in the door for the interview, and that’s the resume.
There are so many styles and ways to display your skills, experience and extra activities, but if they are hard for the reader to digest or really understand what you did, then the resume is not working to your advantage.
1) Make it easy to read
Although this may seem obvious, take some time to really look at how the information is laid out on the paper.
• Is the selected font a reasonable reading size and style?
• Is there enough white space to break up the text?
• Are there one or two words that could replace a phrase and still communicate clearly what you accomplished?
The easier the font, the use of white space to break up the text and streamlining words all enable your resume to be easier to read.
2) What's the “so what”?
To help demonstrate this, let’s take an example and show two different ways to communicate the task.
Years ago, I was in a role that required the department to submit checklists to me for a monthly analysis.
So one way to show this task on a resume would be:
• Collect and analyze monthly data for management team
However, the key – or the “so what” - was what I actually did with the results. An updated bullet that takes this into consideration could be:
• Developed and deployed communication plan based on department’s key metrics in order to minimize rework and improve product quality to client
As you can see in the second example, the data collected is being used to propose a solution and do more for the organization than just simply process paper. Look at the bullets you have and identify where and how you’ve done more than what was stated. For those responsibilities where you have done more, then say so. This makes it clearer why someone should hire YOU and not someone else.
3) Where do you want to be?
It's great to have a general resume that captures the work you have done, but as you look at the job or career path you want to take, then take the time to shape your resume for that path. It demonstrates to the hiring manager that you have taken the time to understand what they are looking for and how you are the best fit for the role. It also shows them how you think.
And even for those experiences that do not seem to relate as easily, they still contributed to who you are today and what you have to offer, so help the reader understand how that experience can help them in the job they are filling.
4) The devil is in the details
How many times have you written something only to realize later that there was a typo or incorrect word used?
It can happen to the best of us, so do your best to make sure it doesn’t happen on your resume. After you have spent time on your resume, take a break and do not look at it for a few hours or even a few days. When you come back to it, read each word, each sentence, out loud. This little step will enable you to catch when a word is missing or the bullet should be restated. Have another person review it and offer constructive feedback. Lastly, be sure to use proper punctuation, which includes omitting the period after a bullet point.
5) References please
When thinking about references, you want to talk with the other person first.
Ask for their permission to be a reference and how they want to be contacted. This should not be a cold call from the prospective new employer and blindside the person being asked to give the reference.
However, once you have secured some references, it’s not needed to state on your resume that they are available upon request. At one time it was suggested to do, but hiring managers already know this and will do it, if they are interested. Put the space that could have been for mentioning references to better use by creating a stronger resume.
Remember – your resume is your first impression to the company’s hiring manager. Make it the best impression you possibly can, so that they can’t wait to meet you in person. The information that you include in your resume needs to add value as to why someone should choose you for the position they are hiring for. The content should amplify what you have done well enough so that the reader can make some deductions of what you are capable of doing for them.
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