How to Get Your Resume Looking Right
Experts advise brevity and a clean presentation that targets the job being applied for.
Although it nearly goes without saying, the old advice of having the best resume possible is so critical for any job seeker that it should be hammered into their mind until it's lodged there permanently. Many otherwise viable candidates who would make effective and well-paid employees scuttle their chances by being half-hearted, sloppy or careless about their resume.This applies to anyone looking for a steady paycheck, no matter if they're veteran workers with specific skills or less qualified people lacking a college degree.
This is a grave mistake, particularly in the current tight jobs environment in this country. So what can be done to fix and buff even the most modest of curriculum vitaes?
Every employment professional has a different toolbox of advice, but most agree on some of the basics. First of all, the look of the document should be simple, straightforward and clean. The people deciding whether a candidate is hired or politely told "no thanks" usually don't have the time or the inclination to trudge through a poorly-presented, ugly or confusing presentation. Candidates should make it easy on them by cleaning up the way it appears - one or, at most, two type fonts should be used, while descriptions of past jobs and biographical details are best done briefly and economically. A ten-page resume stands a good chance of being ignored or discarded, no matter how accomplished the candidate.
On that subject, accomplishments should be emphasized and quantified. Everyone knows what a blog writer is, for example. A job seeker should spice up that plain vanilla description by describing their success as a blogger - how large their readership grew or how widely syndicated they've become. This will distinguish the applicant and provide a strong impression of what he or she can bring to the company doing the hiring.
Online job search portal CareerBuilder.com cautions, however, that candidates shouldn't focus so much on the presentation of their resume that they forget to include key biographical information. They should make sure that their full name and all contacts - at least one phone number, street and email address - are there. For candidates that have a personal web site, it's strongly advisable to include its URL in the biographical details as well. Also, once a resume has gotten a cleaning and polish, it should be proofread in order to make sure no formatting oddities or misspellings have crept into the copy. For many human resource people, the latter in particular can be a deal-breaker.
Finally, a good move is to craft and target a resume to a particular job. Human resources expert Alison Doyle wisely recommends using strategic keywords throughout a resume. This is because the first stage of resume review for many hiring companies is the use of recruiting management software. These programs are designed to weed out resumes that aren't a good match for the job being filled. To increase the chances of surviving this cut, Doyle advises to take a look at the original job posting and other postings for similar position, and harvest some of the most common job-specific terms found there. These keywords should then be sprinkled at various appropriate points in a resume.
The job market is tough out there, so there is no reason to make it harder with a sub-par resume. With a few simple principles, any presentation can be tightened and enhanced to make the owner a viable candidate for his or her target position.