With the multitude of resume advice online, it can become confusing when trying to craft and perfect your resume. Your resume is the first thing a prospective employer will use to determine whether or not you are a fit for a job, which means you need to put your best professional foot forward.
We don’t want to tell you how to write your resume (There’s over 110 million results for “resume tips” on Google), since nobody knows your professional history better than yourself; however, we do have some tips on how to create an effective resume that will help you stand out in 2015.
Everybody you ask will have a different opinion on whether or not you should include an objective on your resume. At Pascoe Workforce, we happen to be a fan of them. Yes, your ultimate objective is to get a job, however you don’t want just any job. You want a job that will utilize your skills, that will interest you, and that will excite you.
You can choose to utilize a ‘summary’ section in place of an objective, especially if you’re not making a huge career leap. Either way, this section should be concise, three sentences or so, and explain: who you are, what job you’re seeking and why you’d be a good fit. Here’s a quick example:
Sales professional with 5 years of experience seeking new experience in managerial role. After successfully handling multiple million dollar accounts for two years as Sales Coordinator at XYZ Inc, where I also expanded the book of business by 150%, I am seeking to step into a leadership position. I believe I would be an asset to ABC Industries as the Regional Sales Manager, and would prosper in the role.
How your Work History section will look depends on how many jobs you’ve had and the overall length of your career history. You could have only worked for one company for 10 years, or maybe in 10 years you were a bit of a job hopper and have 4 companies you feel you need to include on your resume.
Regardless of the number of positions you have held, only include the positions relevant to the jobs you are applying for, especially if older positions are taking up valuable space on your resume. If you’ve been out of college for 10 years and are including a work study job that had little to do with your industry, chances are you can remove it from your resume and it will not be missed.
It’s also best to list your work history in reverse chronological order, with your most recent position listed first. Be sure to always list the dates of employment, the company name and your job title, as well as no more than 6 bullet points of your duties and accomplishments. Recruiters and Hiring Managers want to know you’ve made an impact in your last positions.
As professionals who see multiple resumes each day, formatting is one of the biggest variables when it comes to resumes. It’s best to use a clean, crisp format so your resume is readable. While you may want to utilize line breaks and borders, or even a progressive resume template you found online (not that you should be using an online template to begin with) – depending on your industry, it could either land you an interview, or land your resume right in the trash. Be mindful – if you’re in graphic design, having design elements is always welcome, but for a finance or IT professional, keep it simple and easy to follow.
Also be cautious about your font choices. Typically fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia are the best to use as they are easy to read. Stay away from frilly fonts, as well as Comic Sans and especially Windings. You want your resume to look professional and clean – which also includes being mindful of the font size. While different fonts are different sizes to begin with, try to keep your font between 10 and 12 point so a hiring manager won’t need a magnifying glass to read it.
Typically you should put your name and contact information at the top of your resume, and should include a link to your LinkedIn profile or website. Be considerate of white space on the resume – meaning your margins shouldn’t be too small, and your resume shouldn’t look like an essay.
Last but not least, keep your resume to one or two pages. Typically your resume will not be looked at for more than 10 seconds before you are either passed on, or hopefully chosen to enter the next stage of the interview process. Many hiring managers won’t even flip the page once, let alone twice, so try to condense your resume to hit the highlights only. Note that only professionals with over five years of work history should venture on to the second page of a resume.
Treating your resume as a living document that can and should be altered is the wisest piece of advice we can give you. Your resume should not sit dormant for multiple years while you’re working, as your duties will typically be expanding or changing throughout your time at a company. By regularly opening up the document to add new responsibilities, a change in title, or to add dates of employment, you’re making any future job search much easier on yourself (and will be prepared if any unexpected opportunity comes your way). You won’t struggle to remember what duties your performed at a job, or how long you worked at a company.
It also should be noted that no two job descriptions are the same, which means you should be tailoring your resume for each job you apply to. Provided you have the skills needed (and you should if you’re applying for the position), showcasing them on your resume instead of skills less pertinent to the job will be more beneficial. Be cautious of keywords as well, and if specific words are used in job descriptions, use them on your resume as well.
Finally, if you’re a multi-skilled individual debating between two (or more) career paths, keep a resume for each role you would want to play. A web developer and manager would not have the exact same resume, and if you’re choosing to take your career in a more specialized direction, highlight the appropriate qualifications on each resume – likely to save you space, and get you past Applicant Tracking Systems.
A modern, effective, resume should be crisp, clean and concise. By sticking to these 3 Cs, you’re eliminating design elements taking up precious space for information, you’re limiting yourself to only pertinent information, and you’re keeping a clean format that will be easily read and understood. Having an appropriate resume will make all the difference in whether you are successful in your job search.