Over the past couple of years, I have had the great opportunity to review close to (or perhaps more than) 100 resumes and cover letters. When you receive 40 resumes and you have to narrow it down to interview just four of the people who submitted resumes, things get very interesting indeed.
Here are five ways to ensure your resume gets read in its entirety and chosen from the pile to move onto the next stage of the hiring process:
1) Take time with the visual appeal of your resume. If you use bright orange text or Comic Sans font, or if you have weird line spacing and strange paragraph breaks in your resume, that will be enough for me to want to toss it aside. You might protest and say that those parts don’t matter, and what’s more important is the content of your resume. The answer? Yes and no. Absolutely, your actual skills and education are fundamental to getting an interview. But if you do not take the time to pay attention to details and make your resume look professional, that says a lot about who you are as person and as a worker.
If you have great graphic design skills and want to make your resume stand out, then by all means do so. But if you do not have high quality design skills, stick with basic fonts and formatting; it will go a surprisingly long way.
— Sagan (@Saganlives) November 28, 2013
2) Be consistent. This follows suit with #1 on this list. If your round bullet points turn into numbers or square bullet points halfway down the list, or you start by using the Oxford comma and then nix it later on in your resume, or if you use the American spelling for a word but then use the British spelling and then go back to the American spelling at the end, this shows you aren’t taking pride in your work. Editing and proofreading matters! It tells so much about your work ethic and also how much you respect the people reading your resume.
3) Include relevant information: fit your resume to fit the position and workplace. I get irritated when I read a resume that has item after item listed that have nothing to do with the job the person is applying for. Likewise, if the resume details information about how the person is great working in XYZ working environment, but the job they’re applying for is set in a completely different environment (and this is made clear in the job posting), it really just shows that you didn’t read the job posting or learn more about the workplace. Why would someone hire you if you didn’t put in the effort to learn or don’t care about the position or workplace? Think about how your past experience can be applied to the job you are currently applying for.
4) SHOW don’t tell – or at least, show while telling. You say that you’re detail-oriented: cool. But unless your resume reflects that, I’m going to take it with a grain of salt. You say that you are responsible and take initiative. That’s all well and good, but how are you going to illustrate that? The bottom line is, you can use these words and phrases, but unless you back them up by providing some examples (that you led a campaign, volunteer for three different organizations, managed three employees, etc.), they are completely meaningless.
(Pssst… this goes for references, too. Any time a reference has told me a little anecdote about the person who worked for them, which illustrates their work ethic, I remember that anecdote more than I do any buzzwords they drop).
5) Update it regularly. This is one of the best things you can do to save yourself a lot of headache. Even if you don’t have plans to leave your job in the near future, it is a good practise to undertake. Any time you do volunteer work, get new certifications or professional work experience, take on additional responsibilities at the office, or acquire new skills, add it to your resume. You never know when you might need it, and besides, it feels awesome to be able to see all of your accomplishments listed in one place!
What recommendations do you have for writing a resume? From a hiring standpoint, is there anything that stands out to you when reviewing resumes? Share your thoughts, ideas, and tips in the comments section below!