You probably think that you’ll have your chance to make a great first impression at the interview with a potential employer. You’ll dress the part, wear your best
business outfit, and practice your handshake. But your real first impression on any future employer is your résumé. Without a stand-out résumé, your chances at landing an interview are grim at best. Use these four tips to achieve résumé genius and advance yourself beyond phase one of the application process.
Put yourself in the mind of the reader.
- Imagine you’re the recruiter or hiring manager for this job: you have a near-endless stack of résumés to look at and a limited amount of time. Can’t find the contact information easily? Next. Poor grammar and spelling? Next. Formatting is messy and the font is hard to read? Next. Don’t give anyone reading your résumé an excuse to put it down and move on to the next one.
Format your résumé smartly.
- Use a layout that is neat, clean, and aesthetically appealing. Use a font such as Calibri, Arial, or Verdana: one that is easy to read but not the standard and boring Times New Roman.
- Make sure your name and contact information is at the top, including e-mail address and phone number.
- If you’re a recent grad, list your education information first. Most employers want to see GPA, so if yours is boast-worthy definitely include it. If your GPA could be better, use your major GPA if it’s higher.
- If you’ve been in the working world for a few years, put your job experience first and move your education section to the bottom of your résumé.
- Organize chronologically: put your most recent jobs first, starting with anything that is current.
- Make sure your résumé is free from any grammar or spelling mistakes, as well as formatting inconsistencies that can make you appear sloppy.
Phrase your experiences to pack a punch.
- Use action verbs such as ‘created,’ ‘managed,’ ‘generated,’ ‘utilized,’ or ‘instated,’ instead of verbs such as ‘did,’ or ‘was,’ and never use ‘I.’
- Quantify wherever possible. For example ‘answered phones’ can become ‘managed communications via telephone for hundreds of clients a week’ – showing a company, with tangible numbers, that you can generate revenue, manage large numbers of tasks, or create materials sets you apart from other applicants.
- Use accomplishment statements to highlight key achievements, such as creating a new material or approach, increasing revenue or efficiency, solving problems, improving an existing program, or implementing projects.
Target your résumé to keep it relevant and concise.
- It’s best to keep your résumé to one page, so you can create multiple résumés to highlight certain skills. For example, if you’re applying for a job at a non-profit, spend more space elaborating on your volunteer work. If you’re applying for an office position, use more space to talk about your organization and communication skills.
- Make sure your résumé relates to the job you’re applying for in an obvious way. If your résumé doesn’t connect directly, use your cover letter to explain how your skills and interests can transfer.
Remember, your résumé is the first thing a potential employer will see, and it serves as a personal brochure for what you’re selling them – you. Paying close attention to detail and constantly putting in time and effort to update and improve your résumé will help you to land the job of your dreams.