Before you can present yourself to a potential employers in an interview, you send out your resume. Those sheets of paper are you. They’re everything you want other people to know about your professional life and how your skillset can benefit a company.
Let that sink in for a second. Your resume is you. It’s you on a page. It’s everything you want to say in the most eloquent way possible. If your resume tanks, you don’t get an interview and you miss out on opportunities in the job market.
So, how do you write a resume that shines?
Here are a few tips on creating the best possible impression with just a blank page and ink.
What Are You Applying For?
If you’re a tour guide, don’t apply to a law firm. There’s no rule saying you can’t start a new career path, but you’ll need to prepare for something like that at length. You can’t apply to a job you’re not qualified for. Not only will you never get an interview, but the employer in question probably won’t take you seriously should you apply later on when you are actually qualified.
Professionalism is everything. Ensure that you’re well-suited for the position you’re applying to. If they want minimum five years’ experience milking cows and you’ve got two, you’re not for them. Get out there and milk some more cows.
Resumes Are Changeable
They’re malleable, to be precise. A resume that appeals to an employer or recruiter in one industry, may not appeal to those in another. That’s good news for you. It means you can tailor your resume to a specific position, and you should do that.
You want to present specific sets of skills in the best light for a specific position. Your employer is looking for certain assets and they will skim past irrelevant information in search of the juicy tidbits they need.
Or worse: they’ll skip your resume entirely. You clearly don’t care enough to present the information they need well enough, and that means you’re not conscientious and not a good fit for the job.
Tailor Your Resume
If you’re applying for a managerial position in retail, you’re not going to tout your social media management skills – unless that’s a requirement in the fine print of the position you’re applying for.
Showcase the specific set of skills your potential employer is seeking in your resume. That means cleaning out the irrelevant ones and making your job history pop. Don’t include college or summer jobs unless that’s all you have, right now.
Keep your resume recent and do your research. Find out what the company is looking for and highlight those skills in your resume accordingly. They’re in need of a someone who’d good with people? Bring out your history in sales or your stint as a public speaker in college.
Target your skillset. Don’t be vague. It’s not enough to place ‘trustworthy’ or ‘hard worker’ on your resume. You need to place specific skills in there that match with your chosen industry and will help you stand out.
Bonus Tip: NEVER lie on your resume. It’s the fastest way to lose a job and an interview. Checking whether you are who you say you are takes two seconds with an online search and if you get a job you’re not qualified for, by some fluke, you’re only in for bad references down the line.
Key Words Are Your Friend
The job description contains certain key words you can highlight in your resume. The potential employer’s eye will be drawn to them since they’re exactly what they need in the position. For example, ‘Research Assistant’ or ‘Lab Experience Required.’
It’s relatively easy to include these key words in your resume if you have the appropriate experience in the field.
No More Objectives
An objective is just a fancy way of stating what YOU want. The first thing a potential employer is interested in is what you can offer, not what they can offer you. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. Their first concern is whether you’re a good fit for the position and they’re not going to ascertain that by their discovery that you’re interested in the position because you love planes or trains or earning a steady pay check.
You want to immediately highlight your skills and relevant qualifications. That means no lengthy introduction of why you want them as your employer.
Skills and Experience First
You want to present that which is most relevant to your employer. And what’s most relevant to them is the skills which match the position and your relevant experience in the field. Present your most recent period of employment below your skills. Your qualifications can come last, in this case – they’re not irrelevant but they’re not what your potential employer is focused on when reading your resume.
Make it easy for them. If you’re a match, let them see that right away, instead of drawing it out in long paragraphs.
Present yourself in a way that grabs attention through words, not details. No bright colored resumes or fancy, cursive fonts. No perfumed pages or hand delivered resumes, complete with pink or blue bows. This is not a celebration, it’s an application.
If you want to stand out, do so with your professionalism. Plain, white paper, black font, and laid out in a manner which is easy on the eye. Recommendation: Arial or Times New Roman, 12 point font.
Keep things concise. You’re sending your resume, not an autobiography. A thick resume reeks of narcissism, desperation or both. That’s not the vibe you want to put out there when applying for a job.
Bonus Tip: Bullet points are you friend. Summarize, highlight, drill down and find what you’re really good at. Distill the good stuff, toss out the points you don’t need.
Writing a resume doesn’t have to be difficult. Do what you can to make it easier for yourself and for the person on the other end.