Working on the executive recruitment team, one of the most common questions we’ve been asked was, “Can you look at my resume?” Unless a resume was truly in need of help, We could reformat it fairly quickly.
Since we’ve been in this industry the resume always seems to have a cloud of confusion and mystery surrounding it for job seekers. In fact that there is no single answer to what makes a resume effective. What works in one industry does not necessarily work in another.
Hiring managers go through hundreds of resumes a day and it’s vital that you know how to market yourself and stand out from the pile.
Tips to Create an Effective Resume
- Don’t over-complicate things.
Unless you are in the creative industry, all a resume truly needs is the four sections: Summary of Qualifications, Education and Certifications, Work Experience and Technical Skills [or Additional Skills and Activities].
- Don’t be generic.
Including a list of overused words like ‘hardworking’, ‘team player’ and ‘ambitious’ are an easy way to make a hiring manager’s eyes glaze over.
- Include big achievements.
Include specific details about what you achieved in former roles using power words like, ‘launched’, ‘influenced’, ‘increased/decreased.’
- Don’t use resume templates or tables.
Resumes in tables are notoriously hard to change without ruining the formatting.
- Keep it short.
Most people lose interest after two pages. Since the average hiring manager spends only six seconds on each resume they review; you need to be as concise as possible. One exception: longer resumes are common in IT.
- Remove irrelevant or outdated experience.
Avoid including anything that occurred over 15 years ago, if you can avoid it.
- Don’t lie or over embellish.
It will come back to bite you. Just don’t do it.
- State your most important points first.
Be sure to mention your degree in your summary of qualifications to make sure hiring managers don’t overlook it.
- Make it readable and printable.
Times New Roman or Arial font, no smaller than 11 point. Set your margins no less than .5 inches all around and don’t change the page setup from Letter size paper. Despite the evolution of technology, a lot of recruiters still print resumes.
- Tailor it to the job.
Match the skills you list to the ones your potential employer is looking for.
Once your resume is complete, make sure it’s consistent with your LinkedIn profile as well. The majority of hiring managers use LinkedIn in some capacity to research their potential candidates, so it’s always good to keep it updated.
Writing an Effective Resume
Use these tips to write an effective resume that meets the employer’s needs and gets you an interview.
- Type your name at the top in caps with large, bold type. Include your address, phone number, and email address. If you plan to move while your resume is in use, include your school address and your permanent address.
- Get focused on your job objective before writing the rest of the resume and tailor the resume to the job and the field.
- Clearly state the position you are seeking and whether it is a full-time or part-time job or an internship. You can also include the industry and any skills you want to emphasize. Avoid vague phrases that focus on what you will gain from the experience. Everything that follows on the resume should support the objective.
- Identify your degree, major, graduation date, and school.
- Include education abroad and any relevant vocational schools, certificates, and job training.
- You may include your GPA if it is 3.0 or higher. Employer expectations may vary.
- You may include a short list of courses to show experience, training, or knowledge in the field as long as they are relevant to the job objective.
- Make your skills the selling point of your resume. Include specific skills that pertain to your objective such as computer languages, technical skills, and lab techniques. You may also include interpersonal and adaptive skills such as communication, leadership, writing research, teamwork, etc.
- Be sure to back up each skill on your resume with specific and convincing evidence.
- If you have extensive experience, some of it unrelated to your objective, use two subsections: related and additional.
- Use your most important and relevant experience to convince the employer that you have the skills necessary to do the job. In this section articulate your accomplishments clearly and concisely using active voice to present evidence of your skills.
- You can include professional and extracurricular affiliations and activities, honors and awards, and sports.
Items to avoid
- Keep references on a separate sheet and give to the employer when asked.
- Omit your age, religious or political affiliations, marital status, or other personal data, which could be used to screen you out.
- Keep your resume to one page unless you have extensive related experience.
- Organize headings so that the most important points are first.
- Invite the readers’ attention by using open space, wide margins, and bullets to set off text.
- Use good quality white or off-white paper.
- Use clear and dark 10-12 point type.
- Spell and punctuate perfectly. Proofread several times.
- Use online formatting tools for better understanding.