With the advent of online employment services such as monster.com, careerbuilder.com and job-hunt.com, more people than ever can be applying for fewer and fewer jobs. How can you create a resume that will stand out in this sea of hopefuls? Follow this list of “musts” to ensure your resume stands out.
Summarize your career achievements and experiences at the top of the resume. Human resource people receive sometimes hundreds of resumes to fill one position. Don’t make them hunt for the meat of your work. Create a snappy, one paragraph summary that captures the essence of your strengths and experience to be the first thing that is read. Make it creative and enticing, luring them to want to know more about you. Follow it up with a keyword, bulleted list. This will catch the employer’s eye, as well as, a keyword scanning machine.
Be timely. In this very competitive job market, potential employers want to know your latest and greatest experiences and strengths. While they will be looking at our college degrees and educational experiences, they will want to know what was your last greatest achievement, and how it relates to what they are looking for. Keeping everything fresh and timely will catch their eyes far more than listing all the things you did ten years ago that helped get you to where you are today.
Include all your experiences, even if they weren’t job related. Sometimes employers look for a well-rounded prospect, someone who has taken time to volunteer with a local nonprofit, or community organizing for your neighborhood. All relevant experience will show them your potentials for doing great work for them. This works especially well for entry-level jobs!
Put the most important information that is most relevant to the work first. Don’t make them hunt for what they are looking for. Human resource people don’t have time to read through every resume they get. Help them by showing them first and foremost what you have that they want. Even if it was done a while ago, you can create a “highlights” box on the front page and add your accomplishment there.
Be positive in your language. You don’t want to overdo, but you can certainly put a much more positive spin areas where you lack certain skills or have not completed your education. Instead of, “no experience” say “willing to learn anything needed to get the job done.” Or, focus on what your expertise is in.
Personalize every cover letter. There is nothing colder or less attractive to an HR director than getting a stale, canned letter. Don’t be afraid to personalize it with your own character. Instead of, “I would be willing to work extra hours,” say, “I have never been able to change the earth’s orbit, but I would try for you.“ Have fun, be personable and research the company’s mission statement to align your letter with it.
Edit, edit, edit. There is nothing worse than sending out a resume or cover letter with typos or grammatical errors. When in doubt, ask a second set of eyes to look it over and comment.