In this tough job market, where there are sometimes hundreds of applicants for just one opening, you have to find a way to set yourself apart from all of the other candidates. One way can be to make sure your resume is perfect, and that you have a cover letter that wows. I used to work at an outplacement firm, helping executives write their resumes, and I’ve seen some horrible, and wonderful, resumes. There are so many simple things you can do to make sure your resume is the best representation of the skills you have to offer, and so many pitfalls you need to avoid when you’re putting it together. Here are 7 tips for writing a great resume.
1. Be Honest
Would anything be more embarrassing than having to explain to a potential employer why you lied on your resume? Save yourself the humiliation and hassle by just telling the truth. You may be tempted to beef up your credentials or experience a bit, but resist. The truth is always the best option, and in this day and age, with the ease of communication and how small the world is, if you tell a lie, even a tiny one, you’re likely to be caught.
2. Don’t Go Crazy with Formatting
In resumes as with most everything else, simple and elegant and uncluttered is better. Don’t go crazy with an elaborate, overly graphic or wordy resume. Don’t extend your resume beyond one page, either. It’s confusing to look at, and if it’s confusing, it’ll go to the bottom of the pile.
I once worked with an executive whose resume boasted how many “asses” she added to her organization. One little letter, such a different meaning! Use spell-check, and have someone you trust (with great grammar skills) look it over, just to make sure you’re not bragging about what an ass you are!
4. Include Relevant Information Only
If you’re applying for an administrative assistant position, it’s not necessary to include the job you had last summer tending bar, and the adult enrichment course you took last fall in cake decorating. On the other hand, it’s a good idea to include those things if they’re relevant, say, you’re applying for a job in the culinary or hospitality industries.
5. Check for Gaps
One thing every prospective employer will zone right in on is a “gap” in your resume — a period of time in your life when you weren’t employed, freelancing, or a student. If such a gap exists, be honest about it, especially if it was for something important (like birthing a child!)… hopefully not anything embarrassing (like serving a jail term for a DUI).
6. Use Full Sentences or Bullets, Not Both
In reading some resumes, I’ve noticed that some people can’t seem to decide if they want to use bullet points or full sentences. Don’t use both! Choose one or the other, and stick to it throughout!
7. Include Contact Information
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s true — I’ve actually seen some resumes with no contact information aside from a mailing address, and some with no contact information at all! Be sure to include your name, address, e-mail address, and cell phone number at the top of your resume… just in case someone reads your resume and is so impressed they want to call you right away!
Keep these tips in mind when you’re writing your resume, and you’re sure to have one that’s so impressive, you’ll land that dream job you’re after! Have you seen any ridiculous resume mistakes, or do you have any other resume writing tips to share? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: SCSSAPICS