What’s on your resume? Your job history, your contact information – what else? Check out my top tips on how to take what you love to do and translate them into skills worthy of your resume – and how to make that resume sparkle enough to warrant an interview.
- List key results under a summary of your responsibilities for each position instead of just a list of responsibilities. Though obviously not applicable for all career paths, wherever possible use dollar amounts (Ex. Saved $20K due to process improvements, totaled over $500K in gross sales revenue in past year, etc.)
- Include a skill set section at the top of your resume, so that when a recruiter or hiring manager looks at it, they only have to read a few lines to get a sense of what kind of professional you are – and be hooked in enough to keep reading for more details. Think of it as a summary of your best professional attributes. Labeled Key Proficiencies or similar, it should be bullet pointed, tailored to the job description that you are apply for, and concise. Which takes us to number 3:
- Brainstorm your best skills – not only those directly relating to your career but also those skills you acquired outside of work. If you volunteer regularly and coordinate other volunteers while you build houses, or dish out dinner at the soup kitchen, that can be parlayed into supervisory skills. Plan the annual family reunion for 100 relatives? Consider whether it would behoove you to include a mention of your event planning skills.
- If you have a bachelor’s degree (or no degree) the rule is to keep it to one page. Have a Master’s or J.D.? Congratulations, you get two. Without much space, fitting it all in can be a challenge… But, don’t leave any gaps by cutting any mention of jobs that you don’t think matter to your potential employer. The job may not matter – but the perception that you were out of the workforce for several years will. Instead list the job, and a brief summary – and move on.
- Press print and proofread it – tomorrow. When you read it on the screen right after typing it up, it’s easy to fill in the words that you meant to type, instead of the gaps that are there. Do not, I repeat, do not, rely on pressing the spell-check button to pick up any errors! A friend once incorrectly hit “change all” on an error – and a resume for a public relations professional lost the ‘l’ in “public”. Awkward doesn’t even begin to cover how badly that could have gone unchecked!
- List your positions with the years instead of including specific months. It looks cleaner, and employers are really only interested in the number of years you spent at a job, not in calculating how many months.
- Consider whether there are any additional technical skills – not key strengths like “excellent communication skills”, but important to your potential employer. This can include specialized software that’s specific to your industry – or even advanced knowledge of more generally used software like Microsoft Excel or an ability to update webpages (specify if you are good at HTML or CSS, using Dreamweave or Photoshop). Fluent in another language? If it’s key to the position you’re applying for, put it up top in your Key Proficiencies summary section. If not, put it here. If you have a fluency in another language it should absolutely appear on your resume.
- Play with the margins, and layout to keep to your page requirements – especially when it comes to printing. Assume your resume will be printed, so having a single line print on a second page means that whatever that line contains will not be read. Get creative with grids to double up bullet points in your Key Proficiencies section, and try to fit both the employer name and your job title on the same line to save space. Remember to keep the font to size 10 or higher though, or the person trying to read it is likely to give up and move on.