Making your resume or CV shine isn’t hard. Follow these seven essential rules to ensure that you’re sending in a document that truly stands out.
It’s time to apply for your dream job, and you want to do everything you can to ensure that you land it. You’ve spent time researching the company. You’ve drafted a strong cover letter, and you’ve thought about how you’ll reply to challenging interview questions. You might not have thought too much about your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) though. Like many job seekers, you may use the same resume you made last year to apply to jobs today.
Unfortunately, this is a big mistake. The very first step in landing your dream job is impressing a potential employer via your resume or CV. It should be a stellar document that expresses your qualifications, not a stale file that you hunted on your computer to find.
Show Off the Experience that Counts the Most
If you’re an experienced employee, you likely have enough jobs to fill a whole page on your resume. Displaying your work history is important but remember that you don’t have to go all the way back to high school. Instead, list jobs that are relevant to your industry and that show a clear career trajectory. If you have volunteer experience that is closely related to the job for which you’re applying, don’t be afraid to list it.
If you switched industries later in your career, list all your relevant experience under a “Professional Experience” heading. List your job experience in unrelated industries under a separate “Prior Experience” heading. This will help address employment gap concerns.
Give Your File the Right Name
Are you sending potential employers a resume file saved as resume.doc or CV.pdf? This is a big no-no because it makes it hard for hiring managers to easily match your resume to your application. Instead, use your first and last name as the file name. You should also avoid using your birthdate or a file name that reveals confidential information about yourself, such as your religion or ethnicity.
Be Concise but Clear
Using short, clear statements to explain your qualifications, previous job duties and key skills will help ensure that potential employers get a strong sense of who you are when they read your resume. This is particularly important if you’re listing professional accomplishments, which should be presented as short bullet points. Remember that hiring managers often review hundreds of resumes over the course of a week. If you’re too wordy, potential employers will stop reading and will miss important information.
Here’s an example of how you can make your accomplishments more concise. Instead of writing, “I reduced overall company production costs by $20,000 from April to June 2016,” try writing, “Reduced production costs by $20,000 during Q2 2016.”
Make Sure Your References Are Updated Regularly
Strong references will help you get ahead of other job candidates. That’s why it’s essential that you make sure that all contact, company, and title information for your references is up to date. If you’re starting a new job search, give your references a quick call to make sure that you have listed all their information correctly. If possible, have more references available than you need to provide. This will allow you to choose references whose qualifications are most relevant to potential employers.
Don’t Be Afraid to Add Another Page
You might have heard that resumes should never be longer than one page. While this might be true for entry-level job seekers who don’t have a variety of skills and experiences to list, it doesn’t hold for experienced professionals who need to show off their qualifications. Let your resume run to a second page if you’re unable to list all the relevant job experience, education, and professional skills that apply to a given job.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Your resume or CV is a written representation of who you are as a person and employee. If your resume is riddled with spelling and grammar errors, potential employers will assume that you don’t pay attention to detail or don’t have the communication skills necessary to excel. Make sure that you’ve proofread your resume or CV thoroughly before sending it out. It’s always a good idea to ask a friend or colleague to double-check your document too.
Save Your File as a PDF
Many companies use Microsoft Word for their word processing needs, so you might be accustomed to sending your resume or CV as a .doc file. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that the formatting you’ve chosen for your document will be what potential employers see with the .doc format. Instead, save your file as a PDF. PDFs are visual files that can be displayed on both Windows and Apple computers without variations in formatting.