In the current economy, more than ever it is critical for a job seeker to have a resume that stands out. A resume is a sales document and you are the item for sale! It takes some work to write a crisp, clear, well-organized resume, but hopefully the end result will be worth it. Following are some pointers for creating a well-written, eye-catching resume:
- Put the most relevant and important information first. From top to bottom, your resume should be organized with the most vital information coming first and the least important coming last. Typically, that means your relevant employment experience will come first, and less important items such as personal interests and hobbies will come last. Don’t hide your strengths – highlight them.
- Tell a prospective employer what skills you bring to the table. A reader of your resume needs to know quickly what skills you possess and how that translates to a new position. If you have previous experience in the same field, be sure to describe that prior experience in detail. What exactly have you done before that is relevant to the new position? How much responsibility did you have? As much as possible, avoid generic descriptions and try to emphasize YOUR unique skills, talent and abilities. If you have considerable experience, consider breaking out your specific past projects into a “Representative Experience” addendum to be attached to your resume.
If you are applying for a multitude of jobs, take the time to tailor your resume for individual positions. Highlight those skills which are most applicable to a given job. To do so effectively could require some research of the position and company, but you will need to do this anyway if you are called in for an interview.
- Cosmetics are critical. Don’t underestimate the look and feel of your resume. Spend time making sure it looks pretty and is easy to read. Play with different font styles and sizes, and tinker with the overall spacing. Use bullets and try to avoid wordy paragraphs. Remember that prospective employers are deluged with resumes, and yours will end up in the trash if it is hard to read.
- Be clear and concise. Similarly to the last point, make sure that your resume is easy to understand and well-organized. A resume is not the vehicle to try and impress someone with your vocabulary. Admittedly, it is a tricky balancing act trying to provide both details of your experience while being concise at the same time. As with any other important writing project, it will take you several drafts before things are just right.
- Solicit feedback. Show your resume to people you trust for their feedback. Be careful though about soliciting the whole world’s opinion as too many cooks can spoil the broth. Limit input to a small number of co-workers, friends and relatives whose opinions you most value.
Writing a strong resume is not an easy task, but if you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to setting yourself apart from the pack.
Gary Cohen is the Chief Executive Officer of Word-Nerd.com, a SAT vocabulary website, and a Director for Lateral Link, a national legal recruiting company.