Resumes are vital when looking to secure a new position and some employers may only take 10-15 seconds to look at your resume. If it catches their attention, the hiring team will continue to read it in depth. This is why it is so important to customize your resume to the job you are applying for. Below are 10 tips to enhance your resume to secure that dream job you have applied for.
When writing your resume, keep it professional. Personal information about your family, hobbies, vacations, and photos of yourself should be left off. There are a few professions that would add a photo to a resume, such as those in the entertainment industry. However, the primary focus of your resume should be to highlight your strengths, accomplishments, and skills.
Employers are looking to see what a candidate can offer them and how they will contribute to their business goal. Personal information can be shared if they ask you later down the road. For now, keep your resume business professional in scope and simple it simple. By the way, this includes cover letters. Again, a cover letter is the time to focus on your strengths and skills. It’s not a time to get overly personal.
2. Resume Formatting
There are various ways you can format a resume. Formats include chronological, functional, or a combination of the two. The most traditional format is a chronological resume where you list your most recent employer at the top of your resume and then add your prior employers after that. A functional resume focuses on your accomplishments the most instead of your employment. So, you would list various skills under headings such as “management” or “customer service” for example. This format enables you to show transferable skills. Both have their benefits but many employer’s human resource departments like a chronological resume. Many job applications also require you to fill out the application in chronological order as well. For more information look at our Resume and Cover Letter article.
3. Proofread your Resume
This is probably the most obvious tip. However, proofreading your resume is a crucial step when completing your resume. The worse thing you can do is have grammatical errors on your resume. This shows a potential employer that the resume was written without care or may have been rushed through when written. It is also handy to allow others to proofread your resume prior to submitting it online or dropping it off to an employer.
4. Don’t talk Money
Most people have a salary or hourly wage in mind that they would like to be compensated for the job they are applying for. However, never add this on a resume. Some employers may ask for your salary history on an application (by the way, this question is illegal in some states). This though should be the only time you document a salary. This question places applicants at a disadvantage especially if they have worked for lower wages prior.
A resume is a marketing tool. You should promote and sell the skills you offer to the employer. A list of skills, accomplishments, and abilities should be included. Remember, quality over quality is the key. Be specific and to the point. Emphasize the skills required by the employer so they find you a worthwhile person to interview for the position.
6. Use Action Verbs
When adding your bulleted list of tasks or duties you have performed for your prior employers, start each bullet with an action verb. Action verbs are a more powerful way to start the bullet get right to the point. Using action verbs such as “managed”, “created”, “documented”, “improved”, or “achieved” are some good examples. This allows employer to get a quick overview with lesser words to read and allows them to immediately get a specific overview.
7. Add Target Words
You already know to use Action Verbs, but there are also certain words that employers look for. In fact, there is software that will crawl your resume for these words to help filter down a candidate pool. To choose which target words to use in your resume, turn to the job description. The job description often has the exact target keywords the employer is looking for.
8. Contact Information
Your contact information is essential information to include on your resume. It should include your legal name, phone number, and email address. If you have a nickname, just tell your employer your nickname during the interview. All of your legal documents and employment history will be listed under your legal name; therefore, use your legal name when applying for a position.
Also, make sure you use an email address that is appropriate. Stay away from using numbers that may indicate your birth year. Employers can not discriminate against age, but it is savvy to have a more professional email than one that includes your birth year in the address. Next, check your voicemail message. Some individuals have cute messages or music playing on their phones when someone’s leaves a message. Just make sure when applying for jobs that your voicemail message sounds professional.
A resume is a marketing tool and you should use this to your advantage when applying for a job. However, always be truthful. You should never embellish or state skills that you are not proficient in. Employers do check references and call previous employers to verify information. The skills you list may also prompt interviewers to question how experienced you are in a particular area. Lies can get you in trouble and can even get you caught during an interview if you are asked about something you embellished on. This can be quite awkward or create more lies in the process. This is not how an individual wants to start at a new employer and can be embarrassing and lead to unwanted consequences.
10. Avoid Employment Gaps – if possible
There are many perfectly good reasons you may have a gap in your employment. You could have switched careers, got laid off, had a baby, took care of a sick family member, attended school, or raised children. However, if you can, try and fill any gaps with volunteer work you may have accomplished or professional development you may have completed in order to fill those gaps. You can also consider changing the type of resume format. Instead of using a chronological format, use a functional resume instead. Keep in mind an employer will still ask questions regarding the gaps (it will show on the employment application), so be prepared to answer questions regarding this during the interview.