A Great Resume Gets Your Foot in the Door

What if your first step in applying for a job was sending a photograph of yourself to the hiring manager? You would take extra care to make sure that photo was a good one. You’d make sure your hair was neatly combed and you were wearing presentable clothing. You’d make sure the photo itself was of good quality, with balanced color and a crisp focus.

That’s the way you should think about your resume – because it is, in effect, a snapshot of your talents, skills and career history. Here are a few tips to help you get off to a good start with a job-winning resume.

Things To Do

  • Tailor your resume to specific jobs. Prepare different versions for different positions, targeting specific skill sets in each job description. But take extra care not to send the wrong resume!
  • Optimize your resume to work well with applicant tracking systems (ATS). Here’s how:
    • Simplify your formatting – if you don’t, the hiring manager may see an unreadable version.
    • Use a normal font such as Arial or Times New Roman, and keep it and the formatting consistent throughout the document.
    • Format your resume in Microsoft Word - ATS still don’t work well with PDFs.

  • Make sure your resume contains the keywords found in the job description.
  • Tell the truth – stress your strong skill sets but don’t pad or over-embellish.
  • Keep your resume short and to the point – there will be time in the job interview to elaborate.
  • Avoid empty phrases such as “results-oriented.”  The hiring manager should assume anyone qualified for the job would want to get results.
  • Use action verbs – built, facilitated, administered, managed, directed, organized, oversaw
  • Use active voice, not passive:
    • Active: John built the system.
    • Passive: The system was built by John.

  • Keep your resume to one or two pages.
  • Use numbers to save space.
  • Finally, spellcheck your resume. Then read it again – we’ve all sent those embarrassing text messages without noticing that autocorrect “fixed” a word or two. Don’t let that happen to your resume.

Things Not To Do

  • Don’t include a photo. There are different schools of thought on including a photo with your resume and we tend to fall on the side of not including it.
    • First, the image file can clog up the ATS.
    • Second, you want the focus on your qualifications and skills, not your appearance. And, let’s face it, there can still be some unconscious or conscious biases among hiring managers and a photo could land you in the reject file before you get the opportunity to shine.

  • Leave out the objective statement. These are dated and serve no purpose other than telling a hiring manager what you want, as opposed to what you can offer.
  • Don’t say “I did this and I did that” – it’s your resume, it’s obvious you’re talking about yourself.
  • Don’t include hobbies – wait until you get the job, then you can share your hobbies with your new work pals.
  • Don’t include references on your resume, especially if you’re posting it to a job board or submitting it to an agency. Instead, have your references ready on a separate document to provide if requested.
  • No cutesy email addresses. If yours is IloveWine@domain or SexySusie@domain you should probably tone it down or, better yet, get a new email address simply using your name, such as John.Doe@gmail.
  • Just like your email moniker, your domain can say a lot about you.  AOL or Hotmail are considered to be very dated. Gmail accounts are free – set up one to use for your job searches.

With a little care, your resume can provide a job-winning first impression that will get you in the door and on your way to being the top choice candidate. And once you land the interview, make sure to check out our interview tips for more help. 

Posted by Chris Flatley at 9:37 AM
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