Ensuring that your resume stands out is a top priority when applying for a job. Sometimes, however, you may lose sight of the difference between a resume that stands out because it is impressive and one that stands out because it is badly done. Here are some tips and guidelines on creating a resume that can best represent you while avoiding unnecessary negatives and clichés.
1. Customize to Suit the Industry
Be aware of the industry you would like to work in. Creative and colourful resumes make can make a positive impact in the art and design industries. If you can show your ability to create and design on your resume, you are likely to capture the attention of the organization. If the industry requires a more formal resume format, try to tailor your resume to suit that standard.
2. Choose the Right Format
Ensure that your resume is readable and easy to follow. Resumes are easiest to read when there is good use of the white space on the page. Keep your font simple and machine-readable. You want your resume to be easily searchable by the keywords you would have used in the resume if it is uploaded onto online sites such as LinkedIn and Caribbeanjobs.com.
3. Include your Basic Information on Each Page
It is easy for a potential employer to lose track of pages if they have received many applications for the same position. Adding a header on each page with your name and contact information or footer with you name next to the page number (e.g. John Doe 2/3) ensures that your resume can be easily recompiled in the event that it was separated. Your resume also appears more formal and professional if you include this information on each page.
4. Tailor Your Resume to Suit Each Position
It is expected that you will send out more than one resume during your job search. It is important, however, to ensure that each time you send out your resume, it reflects the position you are applying for. Just as you would ensure that your resume suits the industry you would like to work in, ensure that you edit your data to highlight the competencies and qualifications you hold that are on par with the position your are applying for. Emphasize any skills you may have acquired in a previous job that may suit the needs of the job you are applying for.
5. Know what Information is Necessary
There are different standards as to what is required based on your career stage. Conduct research to determine which career category you fall under (i.e. – entry level; mid- level; senior level). This will help you determine what sort of information to include/omit from your resume; e.g. If you are in mid-senior level, your college information and educational qualifications should be placed after your job experience information.
Ideally, university/college information should be added only if you are within the first 3 years of receiving your degree. If you are entry-level, information such as summer jobs and brief internships should be added. It gives potential employers an idea as to your work ethic and ambitions.
6. Include References
It is important to provide the names, positions and contact information for your references. This allows the employer to gain more information about you via their testimonials. Your references can be provided on a separate sheet if you have more than two.
7. Include Skills and Competencies
In addition to information on your qualifications and education; any additional skills that can benefit the organization should be highlighted. Your technical proficiencies, computer literacy skills and language skills etc. should also be noted. This type of information gives the employer a more holistic view of your person.
8. Include Awards and Achievements
Don’t take your participation in important events or any awards you would have received for granted. Information on things you have been praised and awarded for shows that you are considered a benefit in different circles. You want your employer to see your value.
9. Make the First Page Stand Out
It is likely that your resume would not be only one page long. Employers do indeed read past the first page, however, your first page should be structured in such a way to encourage them to continue. The first section of your first page should include a snapshot of who you are, your major successes, positions held and your competencies. List your major competencies first followed by any related information.
10. Simple but Effective
Bullet points are the easiest to read and the most effective when it comes to resumes. Keep your points short and concise and try not to have more than three (3) bullet points per section. Start your points with verbs, which are the most effective at professionally capturing important information about you. Ensure you are using the appropriate register and choose your words wisely.
11. Show Off
You want your potential employer to know precisely what you have done in the various positions you have held. Include both qualitative and quantitative information when describing your successes and achievements. The more detail you can give the better. Your resume is the forum with which you can describe how much of an asset you are. Keep in mind that your successes can translate into potential successes for the organization.
12. Remember the Simple Things
Keep a generic copy of your resume. Create one that can be used for as many businesses and industries as possible. This way, if you have to create/edit your resume in a hurry, you can go to your basic resume and make all the necessary additions and adjustments. You should have a soft-copy of your resume stored on a memory key, via cloud computing or on sites such as LinkedIn.
In addition, have a cover letter included with your resume at all times. Your cover letter should highlight your major successes and achievements as well as your capabilities and qualifications to support the job you are applying for. Ensure that you do not reproduce your resume in your cover letter!
13. Proof Reading and Editing your Resume
Sending in a resume with errors and mistakes is as good as not sending in a resume at all. It is very difficult and rare for an employer to ignore spelling mistakes and typos in your resume. It shows that you do not pay attention to detail and are not professional. Scan your printed copy of your resume to ensure that the lines and spacing are not different from the soft copy.
14. Beware of Confusing and Distasteful Information
Using witty e-mail addresses may seem like a good idea at the time of you created it, however, it may come across as distasteful for a potential employer. Try to keep your e-mail address as close to your name as possible, or if you prefer, try to ensure that is looks as professional as possible – e.g. Mr. John Donald Doe; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org are acceptable and professional e-mail addresses.
Avoid using acronyms and jargon in the body of your resume. This can become confusing and annoying to your employer and you can even come across as bold and cocky. Avoid sounding negative and arrogant in your resume. While it is encouraged that you highlight your successes and achievements, it must be done in a professional manner that does not seem as though you are better than the position you are applying for. You want to seem perfect for the position not “too good” for it.
15. Don’t Include Personal Information
Information such as your age, race, heritage, likes, dislikes, hobbies, religion and sexual orientation are not required on a resume. This kind of information promotes discrimination. You want your potential employer to look at your resume as objectively as possible. In addition, information such as sexual harassment claims, accidents and workmen’s compensation claims are not to be included on your resume. Avoid putting information you would not like to discuss on your resume. Think carefully about what you put and the types of potential questions you may get on the topic (remember everything you state on your resume is up for discussion). If there is anything you may be uncomfortable discussing, omit it.
Other personal information such as your NIS and BIR numbers, your social security number, Driver’s License numbers etc should be omitted from your resume. This is not necessary for your interview and cannot help you land the job!
16. Know what you want to Promote
Avoid sending out too many different versions of your resume. The copies you send out should be aligned with the electronic version you may have uploaded onto websites such as LinkedIn. Your potential employers network often, you do not want them to come across multiple versions of the resume you have sent to them. You will seem as though you do not know yourself and that you are being dishonest about yourself and your personality.
17. Be honest and Original
Never include untrue information in your resume. Give accurate descriptions of your job title and responsibilities. This ensures that you do not seem dishonest should you be asked questions about it during an interview. Include information in a way that shows who you are. While it is necessary to stick to a formal format, you can still word your resume in a way that can give as much insight into your personality as possible.
18. Maintain the Correct Format
There are certain standards when it comes to formatting your resume. Templates are useful when researching the general structure of your resume, however, it is advised that you design your resume yourself. Templates are easily searchable on the web and an interviewer may be familiar with many of the formats available online. You want to ensure that you appear to have placed time and effort into creating your resume and that you can design/create things on your own. Your margins should be no less than .5 and your font size should be no less than 10pt. Avoid using personal pronouns and abbreviations, jargon and acronyms. Keeping the correct register when writing your resume is essential. Never repeat your information listed and avoid using complete sentences.
Your paper should not be oddly sized and your choice of colour should not be too bright or bold. Your underlining, bold, italics and other font choices should be kept simple. If you overuse your font options your resume will seem confusing. Things you would have wanted highlighted will no longer stand out.
19. Use the Best Channels for Distribution
Avoid sending your resume via fax or mail. Mistakes via the post can cause many complications. Your mail can get dirtied or crumpled if there is an issue at the post. In addition, it may get mixed with other mail and not sent out as a result. Faxing your resume is also a risk as it may get forgotten on incorrectly filed and never viewed. It is always best to take your resume to the organization in person to ensure that it is correctly delivered. Sending it via e-mail is also a sure method as you are notified when it has been sent and you can always call or send a follow-up e-mail to notify them that you have sent it.
Resume writing can become quite a task if you are unsure of correct rules, regulations and conventions. Read up on the links below for more information on the do’s and don’ts of resume writing.