Your resume is an advertisement. It’s meant to communicate your experience and your attributes to an employer – to help them understand why you are special. So, when you’re putting it together, ask yourself “What do I want this employer to know about me?”. That will help you stay focused on the goal, which is to advertise yourself effectively.
Here are a few pointers to help you get your resume in tip top shape.
Make sure your resume is visually appealing.
The average employer spends 20-30 seconds forming an impression about you based on your resume. That’s why it is so important to make sure that the resume is formatted properly. That doesn’t mean that it should have fancy design elements. In fact, it shouldn’t, but it should be well-organized and reader friendly.
Use action verbs to communicate your skills.
Instead of just listing duties and responsibilities, think of your accomplishments and the positive contributions you’ve made. The formula is to start with an Action Verb such as Designed, Organized, Managed, Communicated, Audited, Mentored, Assessed, Evaluated, Summarized and then follow up with an example that supports that action. Two employees with the exact same job title will approach their job differently. Think about how your unique skill set has made positive contributions to your current or prior organization’s success.
Don’t forget that soft skills such as Leadership, Communication skills, Problem-solving skills, and the Ability to work in a team, can be just as meaningful as the technical skills needed to do the job.
Make sure to include your professional accomplishments.
In order for an employer to get an impression of what kind of employee you are,
think about how your unique skill set led to on-the-job accomplishments. If possible, include quantifiable information, such as “cut costs by 30% “or “Increased membership by 40%” so that the employer can start forming a clear image of your specific achievements and the value you have to offer.
Tailor your resume to the position/industry to which you are applying.
Take some time to research the position and the company before you submit your resume. Then think about how your accomplishments and skills relate to that position. Many people are tempted to put everything they’ve done on their resume, but it is important to emphasize the skills, abilities, and the experiences you’ve had that are relevant to the position.
In addition, use the language and jargon of the industry you are applying to. This is particularly important if you are applying to a totally different type of job than the one you had previously. For example: transitioning from a job in the banking industry into the education field. Know your audience and speak their language.
Make your resume concise.
An employer was giving a presentation to a group of students recently, and he described the resume as a “movie trailer”. You want to give the employer just enough information to entice them to invite you for an interview, but not so much information that they feel they already know everything. Over sharing can be detrimental to your job search! Remember that the resume’s job is to get you an interview. There are things that are more effectively communicated in the interview setting, and you should save some details for that situation.
So many times, we fall into the trap of wanting to share everything we’ve done from high school until now. While there is value in everything that we’ve done, it is important to remember that not all of that information is relevant. Not only that, but no one wants to read a lengthy resume crammed with information!
Ask for help.
If you are a college student, go to your Career Center at your school to have someone help you with your resume. If you’ve graduated, check with your school to see what services they offer for alumni. There are also some state agencies that offer free services to the community such as the Texas Workforce Commission and some community colleges have services available to the community. It always helps to have another set of eyes to look over your resume and to get advice from an expert who understands what employers want to see on a resume.
Remember that in this job search climate, there is no such thing as a “general” resume. Your resume should be a dynamic, ever-changing document, tailored to each position you are applying for.
-Information courtesy of Linda Wilson, Director of Career Development Center, The University of Texas at Arlington