I have read a lot of resumes over the years. Several were nothing more than a few poorly-constructed paragraphs. The longest was 76 pages! I didn’t quite get through that one.
I’ve said many times that strong candidates often get overlooked because they haven’t written their resumes in a way that makes their qualifications and experience stand out.
Remember, employers and recruiters only spend about 30 seconds reading a resume. So you have to make it easy for them. Before replying to a job posting, make sure your resume contains these features.
1. It is easy to read
The best resumes are visually appealing to the reader’s eye. They are an appropriate length (about two pages), contain plenty of white space (minimum 1” margins), and use a clean typeface such as Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, or Cambria.
A font size between 10 and 12 points is used consistently throughout the resume and cover letter. In addition, techniques such as bolding, underlining, initializing, or capitalizing are used suitably to draw attention to a heading.
2. It uses plain language
The best resumes use words and sentence structure that enable the reader to understand what you are saying quickly. Avoid using words that have no real meaning (like team player, good communicator, and innovative.) Also, stay clear of management buzzwords, like “mission-critical,” “traction,” “synergies,” and “foster” which are simply annoying and vastly overused.
3. It tells a story
The best resumes describe your career trek clearly and succinctly. Make sure the reader can easily trace your career progression, any gaps are explained, and each job change seems predictable and understandable.
Your work history is listed plainly with the full name of the employer, its location, dates of your employment (full years only) and your job title. It also helps to include a short description of what each of your past employers does if it is not well-known.
Similarly, all education is listed clearly, with the most recent shown first. Additional training, professional development, community involvement, and volunteer experience are shown.
4. It blends accomplishments with job responsibilities
The best resumes highlight your work-related accomplishments instead of giving a lengthy list of your duties and responsibilities. It would help if you focused on what makes you stand out by explaining how you added value to your company. But remember, don’t exaggerate. Everything on your resume must be truthful and accurate.
5. It relates to the new job The best resumes are customized to the job and company you are applying for. You should make it easy for the reader to understand how your skills and experience line up with their requirements.