Your job search is your job right now, and your first official duty is to prepare your resume. Don’t just open the file and add your most recent work history, then start blasting it out to every prospective employer you can find. If you read our post on developing the right mindset, you put some serious thought into the type of job you really want. Now it’s time to give yourself the best chance at landing that job by creating a resume that shows you’re qualified for the best job that fits.
The Absolute Most Important Part of Your Resume
This next statement might shock you, especially coming from a staffing agency. Nobody reads resumes. Not the whole thing, anyway.
Every word is important, and mistakes could disqualify you from the chance at an interview, but recognize prospective employers aren’t going to read every line of what you send. They don’t dig to find out if you’re the one.
So if you want a chance at the job, you need to hook their attention, to sell yourself in as few words as possible. The most important resume component is a brief summary placed near the top, right under your name and contact information.
In the past, the job seeker’s objective went in this space, but that didn’t add anything the hiring manager didn’t already know, it just took up space. Replace that with a two to three sentence summary that explains:
- What skills you have that apply to the job
- Your relevant work experience and accomplishments
- How you would add unique value to their company
Hiring managers and screening software tools look for keywords. Where applicable, use words from the job description you’re applying for. Make your summary as precise and engaging as possible to get noticed, get interviewed and get hired.
What Else a Winning Resume Contains
The hiring manager might not read every single word of your resume, but they’re going to look for this:
- Contact Info – List your name, address, the best number to reach you and an email address. Don’t use your old work email address or one that doesn’t sound professional.
- Work Experience – Start with your most recent job experience and work backward. Provide work history for at least the last 10 years. Include the name of the company and its location, your job title and a summary of your duties. Use data if possible to convey how your work benefitted your company. Especially focus on experience that matches the job description for which you’re applying.
- Education – Start from your highest degree and work backwards. Include the name of your school and the degree you received. Also include any honors or special recognition.
- Skills – List hard and soft skills, again referring to the job description and including all the words that apply to you. Soft skills are things like problem solving, critical thinking and flexibility while hard skills are more concrete like ability with computer software or a degree or certification.
It’s okay to state that references are available on request, but go ahead and compile your reference list so it’s ready to go.
Now Remove These
Read back through your resume and take out industry jargon that isn’t common knowledge. Avoid using acronyms or military terms. Use familiar language.
Examine your verb tenses and change any that are inconsistent. You shouldn’t have statements like “Managing big data effectively for a large marketing agency. Crafted digital experiences for clients in multiple industries.” If you did the work in the past, both verbs should be in past tense.
Use a proofreading tool like Grammarly or Typely to check for errors in spelling or grammar and remove them. Then go to that friend who is a stickler for being grammatically correct and ask him or her to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.
Resume Formatting and Length
Unless you’re a professor or a doctor, your resume should be two pages or less. When you finish crafting your resume, go back through and see how many words you can take out and still maintain the meaning. The more concise you are, the better chance you have of getting your message across.
Use clean, easy to read fonts. Some of the best choices are
- Calibri – Good for anyone
- Times New Roman – Excellent choice when applying for legal, financial and corporate roles
- Arial – This font is a good choice for creative or marketing jobs
- Verdana – Verdana is clean and appealing for any type of role
- Book Antiqua – If you’re applying for a job in education, the arts or humanities, this font has a traditional feel
- Trebuchet MS – This cheerful font is a positive choice for creatives
Use 12 point font for most of your resume text, with larger bold print in the same font for headings. If you’re sending a paper copy, use white, beige or light gray paper. When you mail it, hand-address the business-sized envelope in blue or black ink and mark it “Personal and Confidential.”
Turn Your Resume Into an Interview Ticket
Start creating multiple versions of your resume. Each time you apply, tailor your resume to highlight your experience and qualifications that match what that employer is looking for.
For example, you might start out by applying for a job as a staff accountant. Your resume summary could mention your experience preparing tax returns, analyzing corporate financial operations and forecasting and budgeting. Your employment history showcases how your duties at previous roles gave you experience relevant to that position.
Then you might see a job posting for a payroll job that also fits your skills and interests. Don’t send the same resume you used for the staff accountant job. Change it to show employers the type of experience you have calculating wages, detailing earnings and streamlining payroll processing. In your job summary, if you have three years of payroll experience, make sure you say so.
Resume Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Chance at an Interview
Your resume could be your ticket to an interview. But if you make these mistakes, it could get dropped in the recycle bin.
- Resume is generic and doesn’t explain what makes you uniquely suited to the position
- Your document is too long or is hard to read
- You use language that identifies your religious beliefs, political affiliations etc.
- You leave out accomplishments at previous jobs
- Work history starts with the first job you ever held and proceeds forward
- Text is copied and pasted from somewhere on the Internet
- Resume contains spelling and grammar errors
The Next Steps in a Successful Job Search
Each day, plan to send at least five resumes to a hiring authority to keep your job search rolling. If you haven’t already sent yours to Brelsford Personnel, view our open jobs and upload it here.