Think of your resume as walking into a room to introduce yourself to an important person. You wouldn't enter looking like you've just rolled out of bed. Submitting a resume to a prospective employer is no different – except you're not present at the scene to quickly recover if you commit some gaffe.
Your resume will be tossed aside if you mess it up. Here are five things you have to know about how to write a killer resume that will stand out and be noticed.
Avoid the urge to exaggerate when resume writing. You'll be doomed the moment any inaccuracies in your work history or academic career come to light.
1. Resume Basics
You already know the basics: Start out with your contact information: name, address, email address and your landline and mobile phone numbers. Put this info at the top of your resume, and use formatting (like centering it) so the potential employer will be able to spot it quickly. Detail your education. Include your work experience, if any, putting your jobs in chronological order with your most recent on top. Include a brief job description for each. And, don't forget a skills section along with your academic credentials.
The job objective statement can be tricky. Experts disagree as to whether it's a good idea to include this. You'll want to tweak it to pertain exactly to the employer and the position you're applying for if you do decide to include it. Generic won't do here. We all want to excel in our fields. Be different and make it clear that this specific job is an important step.
And no, you're not going to include references in your resume unless the company specifically asks for them. Put them in your cover letter instead if you really want to include them.
2. Shorter is Sweeter
The individual who looks at your resume most likely has hundreds of great resumes from job seekers with relevant work experience and notable skill sets waiting for review. Your resume will be set aside, most likely without ever having been read, if you send in the equivalent of a full-fledged novel.
Brevity is key. You've got limited space to make your most important points because hiring managers who are pressed for time probably won't read all 10 pages. Two pages are good. One page is even better. And, bullet points and the effective use of white space make yours an effective resume that's easier to read.
3. Honesty Is Always the Best Policy
Avoid the urge to exaggerate when resume writing. You'll be doomed the moment any inaccuracies in your work history or academic career come to light. The company might do a quick Google search to find out more about you. Not to mention that you might trip up in conversation when this goes as planned and you get a job interview for that dream job.
Don't waste your time or anyone else's by sending in that killer resume for a job posting for which you're really not qualified. Get some training in your desired field first if you really want to make a career change.
4. You’re a Pro, So Write Like One
Create a new email address that's dedicated to your job search if your existing email is something like "[email protected]." Don't send the wrong message to recruiters. Use your name or a smooth, concise variation if necessary.
It's okay to include a link to your personal webpage or LinkedIn or other social media profiles, but follow the same rules as for your email address. This is not the time or the place to get personal. Make sure the links are live. And check your voicemail greeting while you're at it. It should sound as professional as your professional resume.
If you're not sure of formatting and the layout of a good resume, use one of the many templates available. A quick search will turn up a number that you can review.
5. Proofread and Proofread Again
OK, you're done. You've created a masterpiece resume – you think. Run it through a spellchecker and a grammar checker. You want to avoid grammatical, punctuation and spelling goofs at all costs.
Now add some anticipated keywords - but not jargon - that pertain to the position, the industry or the employer. Companies often scan for these so they can narrow down which of hundreds of resumes they're actually going to look at. Try to predict them and get them in there, but don't overdo it. Using each once, maybe twice, is good. Three or four times on a single page is not.
And cover all your keyword bases. If you have a bachelor of arts degree, add (BA) after you spell it out. You don't know which (or both) keywords will be searched for.
Now you're ready to start that job search – just as soon as you have a friend read your resume over to catch any bloopers you missed.