Crafting a resume can be a complicated and frustrating process. We’ve all been there – staring at the bullet points to make sure they line up, double checking the indentation, brainstorming various action verbs, putting together a snapshot of your previous accomplishments. It can be daunting, but it’s an important document that creates an employer’s first impression of you. You want your resume to be perfect. Tailored for the job. Correct formatting. No spelling or grammatical errors. A potential employer will review qualifications and experiences on paper prior to selecting applicants to interview, so it’s important to showcase your accomplishments. The average time spent reading a resume is about six seconds, which means you need to be selective about the information on your resume. What kind of impression does your resume make after six seconds? Is your resume strong enough for the employer to reach out and want to learn more about how you might be a positive match for the open position?
Andrea Nelson, a Senior Recruiter here at Career Professionals, has been working with candidates for over fifteen years answering those questions and ensuring that our candidate’s resume meets the criteria of our clients. She considers a resume to be employer ready when it has clear, captivating information about your background. It’s important to make it as easy as possible for your interviewer to follow your resume and pinpoint when you accomplished an activity or goal. Andrea recommends the following guidelines for an entry-level to mid-level professional resume that will get the attention of an employer.
- Keep your resume simple. You want it to be clear cut and attract the reader. One page is ideal with contact information easily located at the top.
- Layout and formatting is huge! Create sections on your resume to clearly differentiate your contact information, education, experience, and activities/skills. Try to stay away from templates, as they are harder to edit when working with a recruiter.
- List your education underneath your contact info, followed by your experience, and then highlight any relevant activities/skills towards the bottom of your resume. If your resume is two pages long, which isn’t recommended, then it is extremely important to have your education listed on the first page in case the second page gets lost.
- When describing your experience, REVERSE chronological order is preferred over a skill based resume. Have your most recent place of employment at the top of the experience section and previous positions below.
- For each place of employment, list the company name, city, state, and dates of employment on one line. The company name, city, and state should be aligned left, whereas the dates of employment should be aligned right. Use the month/year format for dates of employment opposed to only including the year. On the second line, include your job title followed by your indented bullet points on the third, fourth, fifth lines. Be sure you have a minimum of three bullet points under each position and don’t use full sentences – always start these shortened statements with an action verb.
- Create a professional style through details. Maintain the same font throughout the entire document – use size 22 font in Calibri, bolded for your name and size 11 font in Calibri for everything else. Fancy fonts or fonts smaller than size 11 can be hard to read. Try to stay away from italicizing, it can be distracting. Use circular bullet points instead of other characters and check to see if they are aligned vertically throughout your document.
- Remember to double check and triple check for grammar mistakes.
- Don’t use first person or third person.
- If you are currently employed, use present tense. Only use past tense if you are no longer employed at the company. It’s a common mistake Andrea sees daily, so making sure you are in the correct tense will set you above the competition.
- Prepare vs. Preparing. Adding -ing to the end of a verb changes the structure and limits the impact of the action verb. Try to stay away from using -ing if possible.
Once your resume is in the hands of the hiring manager, these tips and tricks will help your resume stand out when compared to your competition. The end goal is to receive a job offer. To get to that final step, you need to first look at your resume and see if you are making any major blunders that would turn a potential employer away from calling you. Get a second set of eyes on your resume to check for consistent formatting and grammar. Other people will often see errors that you missed. You want to have the perfect resume, free of errors and streamlined. An error on a resume might not stop a recruiter from reaching out because they can work with you to edit it, whereas an employer might not have the same attitude. If you aren’t sure how you stack up compared to the competition or aren’t getting interviews, submit your RESUME to connect with a recruiter and see how Career Professionals can help you in your job search.