Resumes could have much nicer, cleaner, more readable resumes if they would have been tweaked a bit. And none of these tweaks are hard to accomplish. So, let’s start.
1. DON’T use a general resume. You cannot successfully use the same resume to apply to several different jobs. Your resume should be custom written for each job you are targeting. When you send out something generic, it shows apathy and lack of motivation. This is NOT the impression you want to send to your potential employers.
2. Start with an attractive layout. Use bold and italics to highlight key points. Not recommended downloadable templates because they are very generic and dull. Get creative but not crazy. You can use a little touch of color if you are modest.
3. Use a bulleted style to make your resume more reader-friendly. Given that employers screen resumes for between 2.5 and 20 seconds, they will find your resume a lot more readable if you use bullet points instead of paragraph style. It’s just easier to read.
4. Justify the text instead of using left align. Most people are accustomed to reading justified text. This will make your resume easy to follow.
5. Do not use a resume to replace a job application. A resume is not a job application. The reason for leaving your last job, previous supervisors’ names, and rate of pay don’t belong on your resume. This is information can hurt you more than help you, so leave it off of your resume.
6. Eliminate “responsibilities” words from your resume vocabulary. Never use expressions like “Duties included,” “Responsibilities included,” or “Responsible for” on your resume. Why? Because your resume should be accomplishments-driven, not responsibilities-driven. Anyone (well, maybe not anyone) can perform the duties listed in a job description. Job-description language is not what sells in a resume. Accomplishments-oriented language tells employers how you’ve gone above and beyond in your jobs, what makes you special, how you’ve taken initiative and made your jobs your own.
7. Choose a common font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Verdana are some of the best fonts for a resume. Now is not the time to experiment. Most computers do not have 600 different fonts installed so the file will not read correctly if you use your decorative fonts. Do not use cutesy graphics such as candy canes or teddy bears if you want to be taken seriously. (Yes, I really saw a resume with teddy bears and candy canes on it.) It is NOT appropriate for business correspondence, and it is guaranteed your resume will be canned if you do this.
8. Do not use the word “I” in your resume. Start each sentence with a powerful verb. Portray yourself as someone who is active, uses their brain, and gets things done. For example: Organized annual student symposium by securing speakers and working closely with marketing
9. Eliminate clutter from your resume. Several elements can clutter up your resume and impede readability. Like
– Unnecessary dates.
– The line “References: Available upon request.
10. Write a proper cover letter for each position you apply to. Do not ever send out a résumé without a cover letter. This is basic business etiquette. Personalize each cover letter directly to the position you are applying to. A generic cover letter will not work to your benefit. If possible, address the letter directly to a person. If you do not know the hiring manager’s name, use “Hiring Manager.”
11. Focus on describing past job activities that highlight the skills you most like to use and want to use in your next job. Don’t spend a lot of time, for example, describing all that clerical stuff you did in a past job if you have no intention of doing clerical work again. Even if you’ve mastered skills that are in great demand, don’t emphasize them if they’re not the skills you want to use in the future.
12. When you have a degree, list only the year that you obtained your degree. When you list your dates of attendance, many résumé scanning systems will not recognize that you obtained a degree, only that you attended college for a period.
13. Be consistent! For example, don’t list one date as 1/2006 and then list another date as 5/22/2006. List software consistently, too. MS Word and Microsoft Excel are both correct, but not consistent when used together.
14. Be sure to list locations (city and state) for all your past employers. It’s resume protocol to do so, and employers expect to see that information.
15. Deactivate all e-mail links and Web addresses in your résumé and cover letter. To do this in Microsoft Word, highlight the link with your mouse, go to the “Insert” drop-down menu, scroll down to and click “Hyperlink”, and on the lower left-hand side of this screen there should be a little button that says “Remove link.” When you find it, give it a little click and voila! Alternatively, you can highlight the link with your mouse, right click on it, and scroll down to “remove link” to deactivate the link.
16. Adhere to punctuation and capitalization rules. Use a reference manual if you do not understand standard punctuation and capitalization rules. Also run a thorough spell-check on your resume. Print your résumé and read it word-for-word.