In today's fiercely competitive job market, you need to step up your game to be considered for a job interview, and the best way is through a standout resume. With numerous applicants for limited openings, your resume must rise above the others. Even if you network your way to an interview for an unadvertised job position, you still must submit an excellent resume for consideration. Your resume is the foundation of your job search and well worth an investment of your time and energy.
These basic principles will help you create a resume that will capture attention:
1. Your resume needs a great format and excellent content. No employer will read your resume if your format is not well-organized and appealing, no matter how impressive the content may be. On the other hand, if you have a great format, but less-than-stellar content, you still won’t get an interview. Employers are looking for accomplishments and skills that make you uniquely qualified for the position. The person reviewing your resume will likely scan it for only 15-20 seconds, so make it count.
2. Proofread for typos! Employers will toss out resumes with spelling, grammatical and/or diction errors, so avoid this costly mistake by proofreading.
3. Always target your resume to the job you seek. Highlight and match your skills and experiences to the specific job qualifications. Show the employer you are well-qualified for the position.
4. In your resume’s heading, contact information should include a phone number with an area code and an email address. Make sure to have a professional voice message and a professional email address such as joe.jobseeker@ gmail.com. Do not use your current work email address. Potential employers may think that you are willing to conduct your job search on work time, plus your current employer may also be monitoring employee email.
5. Seperate your heading from the content of your resume with a line. This draws attention to the area directly under your heading. This is the most important real estate on your resume; use it wisely to present important information that will entice the employer to keep reading and bring you in for an interview.
6. Do you need an objective? Generally,an objective is not needed unless you are unsure whether there is a job opening or if you know a particular employer wants to see it on your resume. If you list one, keep it concise, such as: To obtain a graphic design position at Jump Company.
7. Know your degree! You’d be surprised how many people don’t know if they earned a bachelor of arts, bachelor of science or some other degree. Employers typically verify this information, and it could make or break your chance of getting an interview.
8. List your major correctly, without modifying it. Resist the temptation to list a concentration as your major because you think it might be more appealing to an employer. For instance, you may have majored in communication with a concentration in public relations, but listing your major as public relations is misrepresenting your academic credentials. This may hinder your ability to be hired. Here’s the correct way to list a degree and major:
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Concentration in Public Relations
Millikin University, Decatur, IL
9. Include your college grade point average (GPA) only if it is 3.0 or higher or if there is a GPA requirement you must meet for the position you seek. Include this information in your education section, listed in this style: GPA 3.2/4.0.10.
Generally, recent college graduates list their education section
immediately after the heading and the objective (if one is used). If you are not a recent graduate, you should list your education at the bottom of your resume. This format may vary depending on the specific job industry, so make sure to find out the expectations for resumes in your field.
11. If you have substantial career experience, create a section highlighting accomplishments most relevant to the job you seek. Call this section "Summary of Qualifications," “Professional Summary” or something similar. This section should include powerful statements about you in a bullet-point format to maximize chances it will be read. Quantify when possible, using the actual numeral so it stands out to the reader. As an example: “Over 5 years of leadership and management experience, having supervised as many as 7 employees at one time.”
12. The next section should be "Career-Related Experience" or “Professional Experience.” List job titles first in bold, with dates of employment next to this (month/ year to month/year). Below this, list the name of the company/organization followed by the location (city/state). Finally, include approximately five bullet points highlighting your job accomplishments specific to the position, quantifying where appropriate. Avoid the tendency to present a laundry list of your job duties. Positions should be listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experience first, unless you have past experience that is more relevant to the job you are seeking. In that case, the most relevant should come first so it is near the top of your resume and more likely to pique the reader’s interest. Experience does not just mean employment; volunteer and other unpaid experiences may be relevant to your candidacy for a job and may be included in this section.
13. Other Sections you might consider adding include “Additional Experience,” “Community Involvement,” “Presentations,” “Publications,” “Professional Affiliations” or “Honors & Awards.” Use a format similar to other sections of your resume. Be concise and use bold text where relevant. Leadership positions in professional organizations should be in bold.
14. Do not include irrelevant person information, photos or personal pronouns. In particular, personal pronouns take up too much space and your name is already at the top of the page.
15. Create a page for your references using the same font and heading as your resume. Ask individuals for their permission before using them as references, and inform them about the position you are seeking so they can do their best to relate your skills and abilities to the requirements of the job. Provide your references with a copy of your resume, as well.
Follow these tips and it is likely that your resume will end up in the “to interview” pile.
<strong>Pam Folger</strong> is director of Millikin’s career center. she has more than 24 years of experi- ence in career and employment services, with more than 14 of those years at Millikin university.