This article also appeared on Recruiter.com - https://www.recruiter.com/i/6-things-you-can-do-to-strengthen-your-resume-today/
Building an effective resume can be challenging. There are no hard and fast rules associated with writing a resume, which can make the process something of a guessing game – you're trying to figure out, "What will get my resume noticed by a hiring manager or recruiter?"
Let me start out by saying that everybody has a different opinion on what makes an effective resume; if you'd like to learn more about what corporate recruiters have to say what they like and dislike about resumes, you can find the results of an information survey I took here. Sometimes one person's constructive feedback may conflict with another person's, so be warned. This is what happens when there are no absolute guidelines on writing a resume.
As a former recruiter and a current resume writer, I have my own notions about what might make your resume stand out. But, some of my suggestions may conflict with the feedback of others. I'm just letting you know what I've seen work.
So... without further ado... here are 6 things you can do today to strengthen your resume.
- Spellcheck and proofread. Typos and grammatical errors will likely kill your chances. If you're using a word processing application, there's no reason NOT to use the built in Spelling and Grammar check feature. But keep in mind, this won't necessarily catch misused words that are spelled correctly (i.e., the correct form of whose vs. who's, or accidentally using the word manger instead of manager). Likewise, your word processing application may flag proper nouns or corporate terms. Manually proofreading the document after letting Word do its stuff will enable you to catch these errors.
- Consider adding a headline. A recruiter will spend about 15 seconds reviewing a resume to see if it's a match. If you have a clear headline just below your name and address that clearly spells out the solution to their job vacancy, such as "ACCOUNTING MANAGER" for an advertised Accounting Manager role, it may encourage the recruiter to keep reading.
- Eliminate content that is distracting, irrelevant, or not supportive. What I mean by this is if you've been a help desk specialist for the past 10 years, and you're applying for a help desk job, consider leaving off your jobs from before that time when you were a professional landscaper. This can also apply to listed hobbies that don't support your work. Recruiters and hiring managers want to know what you can do in the job. Including that unrelated work experience may be interesting to you or the reader, but it can also invite questions. For example, What line of work are you really looking for? And, Will you be looking to leave the office at 4:30pm to go surfing (that listed hobby). I've also seen resumes where a job seeker started in a job as an administrative assistant (listed on the resume) and has grown into a senior management role, but the hiring manager wondered if the candidate is truly cut from managerial cloth. It's an unfair bias, but it happens.
- Pay attention to formatting. Do your columns line up? Are your tabs working properly? Is the resume attractive, with enough pleasing white space (areas without text). Microsoft Word can be a bear. If you don't know how to maneuver the program well, hire somebody who can help you format your resume effectively. A misaligned column, for example, can be interpreted by the reader as careless or sloppy work.
- Add some accomplishments. Listing what you do on a day-to-day basis in your job is a starting point. But including effective accomplishments for your positions show what kind of value you're capable of adding to an employer. Measurable accomplishments (i.e., increased sales 40%) are great, but also consider including some of the less tangible things you've done which changed your employer's performance for the better. Did you create and implement processes where none existed? Were you able to help develop people on your staff through training and mentoring?
- Avoid the personal stuff. In the United States, don't include your picture, date of birth, social security number. Likewise, leave out religious affiliation or anything else that invites illegal or inappropriate scrutiny by an employer. If you're applying for a job which may involve long hours or travel, and you volunteer on your resume that you have 3 children, a biased reader of your resume may start wondering, "Geez, is this person going to miss a lot of work days or have to leave early due to day care issues?"
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).
Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at email@example.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.