Never underestimate the power of a good resume. A resume provides a quick summary of your skills, abilities and accomplishments. It is your first introduction to your potential new boss. First impressions have a lasting impression, so make sure your resume is a true representation of you and your skill set. Your resume should grab the immediate attention of the reader to avoid being tossed into the rejection pile.
Qualities of a Great Resume
1. Clear, articulate and concise
Your resume should be clear, articulate and concise. Confusing the reader will significantly lower your chances of keeping your resume at the top of the list. Most recruiters like to skim through resumes, so avoid long convoluted sentences and run-on paragraphs. Lastly, do not significantly decrease the font size in order to fit three pages of detail into two or significantly increase the font size to make your resume look fuller.
2. Visually appealing
As mentioned above the font size used in your resume is very important. Fonts that are too large tend to come across as overcompensating for lack of skill. Fonts that are too small can be hard to read. Recruiters should never have to strain their eyes in order to read your resume. Try to stay within 10-12 point font size for the body of your resume. Headers can be slightly larger. Use a standard font for your resume, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Stay away from script fonts as they are hard to read. This may vary if you are applying for a more creative type of position. There should be plenty of white space in your resume. Use a bullet point format rather than a summary format. Spread the text out as evenly as possible. You do not want to have too much white space at the top or bottom of your resume.
3. Truthful and accurate
Never provide false information on your resume. You should always be truthful and accurate in the description of your skills, education and accomplishments. Everything you write in your resume should be verifiable. Provide backup data when listing your accomplishments. If you saved the company money then state the value of the savings. If you invented a new product, list the patent or trademark information. If you graduated top of your class, provide your GPA and list of honors.
4. Error free
Proofread, proofread, then proofread again and then ask someone else to proofread. Misspellings and typos are deadly on a resume. Even minor errors can get your resume tossed in the trash bin. Spell check and grammar check are great tools, but you should not rely solely on them. Words like their/there, effect/affect, your/you’re are often used improperly. Some recruiters are more forgiving than others, but there are those that will toss a resume aside at the first sign of a spelling or grammar error.
5. Update your resume
You should constantly update your resume by adding new skills, jobs, projects, education. Some people update their resumes every two to three months while others will update as soon as they have accomplished something. You have a better chance of remembering your accomplishment or a newly acquired skill if you update your resume at the time of achievement. Find a balance that works for you. Also keep in mind that showing accomplishments or skills that you learned five or more years ago is still important, but it also begs the question, “what have you done lately?” Keep yourself relevant by taking a class, volunteering to spearhead a project or showing a progression of moving up in your role or taking on new roles.
Resumes are the key to whether the doors of opportunity will open or close for you. If you have the time and know-how, you should write your own resume. Writing your own resume gives you an opportunity to let your personality shine and gives the reader a little insight into who you are. If you don’t have the time or know-how, then hire a professional.
Keep this in mind while you are drafting your resume: Your Resume Has Only Six Seconds to Make an Impression.