On average, employers spend less than 30 seconds scanning each resume. Make sure that your resume content catches their attention and conveys why you are a candidate worth interviewing.
Most placement agencies or companies in a hiring mode will request that you submit your resume in a Word document via an attachment to an email or upload it to the employment section of their website.
Here are some guidelines to help you create a better resume:
1. Make It Look Professional.
Never use colored paper or backgrounds. If you are mailing printed copies, have it printed on white bond paper.
2. Proof Read for ANY Errors.
Catch all typos and grammatical errors. Make sure to have someone
proof read your resume, preferably someone attentive to details. Even the smallest error could land your resume in the recycle bin.
3. Include Your Contact Information.
It's important to include all your contact information on your resume so employers can easily get in touch with you. Include your full name, street address, city, state, and zip, home phone number, cell phone number, and email address.
4. Set Up a Job Search Email Address.
Use a personal email address on your resume, not your work email address. If you don't have a personal email account, sign up for a free email account to use for job searching. Check the email account frequently, so you can respond to employer inquiries in a timely manner. Be sure it has a professional feel to it, not firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
5. Be Prepared to Receive Phone Calls or Texts.
It's important to have voicemail or a message inbox so that hiring managers can leave a message when you're not available. You don't want to miss any important calls. Be sure that your voicemail message is professional sounding. If you receive texts on your phone, you can note (texts accepted) next to your phone number in your contact information.
6. Objective – or - not.
Do not start your resume with a trite Objective like, “My objective is to obtain a position with a growing company where I can utilize my skills.” An objective is only useful if it is specific to the job title you are seeking. You are better off using the heading Summary and outlining your skills that pertain to the job for which you are applying.
7. Summarize Information.
Shoot for a one-page resume or not more than two pages. Rarely would a three-page resume ever be needed or read by busy employers.
8. Stick with Common Section Headings.
Use common sections headings employers will recognize. Examples: Objective, Experience, Employment, Work History, Skills, Summary, Summary of Qualifications, Accomplishments, Strengths, Education, Professional Affiliations, Publications, Licenses and Certifications, and Honors.
9. List Recent Information.
The general rule of thumb is to show your work experience only for the last 10 to 15 years. For long tenured jobs, use complete dates. Example: 1998-2013.
10. Chronological Order.
Organize employment by the most recent job first. Use years (2004-2013) for dates. Only use months if it is less than a year in tenure.
11. Highlight Skills and Accomplishments.
Focus on highlighting accomplishments that will arouse the interest of employers who read resumes asking themselves, “What can this candidate do for me?” Remember that the goal is to get the interview by selling yourself.
12. Avoid Personal Pronouns.
Never use personal pronouns such as "I" or "Me" in your resume. Instead of complete sentences, use short action-oriented phrases, such as: Coordinated and published a weekly newsletter concerning local community events; supervised twenty employees.
13. Use Action Verbs.
Portray yourself as active, accomplished, intelligent, and capable of making a contribution. Examples: Managed, Launched, Created, Directed, Established, Organized, and Supervised.
14. Quantify Your Experience.
Numbers and percentages are powerful tools. Instead of saying, “Responsible for increasing sales in my territory,” use “Increased sales in my territory 150% in six months. Managed 30 accounts for annual revenues of $2 MM.”
15. Be Organized, Logical and Concise.
In addition to reviewing your experience, employers also use the resume to get a sense of whether you are organized, logical and concise.
16. Use Appropriate Job Titles.
Use job titles employers will understand. Don’t falsely elevate your title.
17. Customize Your Resume for Each Job Opening.
Start by creating one great main resume, then customize. If you are responding to a specific job posting, review the job description to see what credentials are important. If you're submitting your resume to an employer that doesn't have an advertised opening, research the company and find out how it would benefit from bringing you on board. Once you determine your top-selling qualifications, you will be ready to customize your resume to meet the employer's needs.
18. Use Key Words.
Electronic resumes are being searched for specific key words to match your resume with an employer’s specific requirements. Be sure to include key words and phrases that describe your skills and experience, such as Product Launch, Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Sales, Account Management, C++, Visual Basic, Word Processing, MS Excel, Adobe Illustrator, Graphic Design, and Advertising.
19. Speak to Your Industry.
Use industry jargon and acronyms to reflect your familiarity with the employer's business, but not to the point where it makes your resume hard to read or understand. Spell out acronyms in parentheses if they are not obvious, such as TQM (Total Quality Management).
20. Highlight Key Points.
Although most formatting such as bold, italics and underlining may not show in an electronic resume, you may use capital letters, quotation marks, even asterisks, to emphasize important words or section titles.
21. Omit Salary Information.
Never make reference to salary in your resume. If salary history is required, this would be included in your cover letter. If you are utilizing the services of a placement firm, they will handle salary negotiations in your behalf.
22. Avoid Questionable Subjects.
Never make reference to personal information such as race, religion, marital status, age, political party, or even personal views. In all but a few instances, it would be illegal for the employer to consider such issues. Also, avoid the use of humor and clichés in your resume.
23. Be Honest.
Lying or exaggerating your abilities will always come back to haunt you. Since placement firms and employers have you undergo testing and check references, you will want every detail to check out.
24. Be Positive.
Remove any negative comments or feelings conveyed in your resume, especially when it comes to previous employment experiences. Emphasize a positive, can-do attitude.
25. Add a Great Cover Letter.
A cover letter allows you--in narrative form--to tell the employer exactly why hiring you, instead of the numerous other candidates, is a good decision. Be sure to research how to write a great cover letter.