A strong resume is the best way to make a good first impression with a potential employer. However, some job seekers' attempts to capture attention backfire. Here are five ways to spice up your resume and two ways to avoid getting burned.
A resume is a chance for job seekers to present themselves at their best, but too many candidates send in boring or disorganized resumes full of misspellings, poor grammar, irrelevant information, or confessions more fit for the tabloids than a professional resume.
Here are five tips for spicing up your resume and two things you should never do.
1. DO make your qualifications easy to read at a glance
Recruiters look for specific qualifications that are listed in the published job description. Make that information easy to find because your resume may get only a few seconds to make the cut.
Organize your qualifications and accomplishments so they are easy to read.
Use concise bullet points under headings like "Employment," "Education," and "Skills."
Clearly state your objective and list the most recent and pertinent information first.
2. DO use action verbs
Begin each point with an action verb. Verbs like "Improved," "Saved," "Managed," and "Created" will make you look good.
3. DO be specific
How much money did the company save with your great idea? How many accounts or employees did you manage? How many people attended the successful company party you planned? Sometimes percentages tell a better story than numbers.
4. DO make your resume easy to share electronically
When you hear, "Send me your resume," the person requesting your resume probably expects to receive it via the internet. Paper resumes are becoming rare, but personal networking and a resume that is visually pleasing will never go out of style.
Save your resume as a PDF or equivalent format, so your resume will always look the way you intended. If you don't, your resume might look terrible if the reader does not have the same version of your word processing program.
5. DO ask for a second opinion
Simple grammar or spelling mistakes can ruin your chances with a hiring manager. Ask a trusted friend or a professional to look over your resume to ensure that is free of grammar, spelling and other errors. A fresh pair of eyes will catch mistakes and improve your chances of getting noticed for the right reasons.
Here is what you should never do on a resume:
1. DON'T exaggerate or falsify your accomplishments
Lying on your resume is wrong and will ruin your chances of ever being hired with that company. Everyone doesn't do it. Nor should you. There is nothing wrong with presenting real accomplishments in the best possible light - resumes are not the place for modesty - but don't imply anything that isn't true.
Family photos, pink marbled paper or frilly fonts might get you noticed, but not in a good way. One candidate got a laugh from the Human Resources department of a large organization when she mailed a shoe mounted on a block of wood with her resume. Her letter began, "Now that my foot is in the door..." It was memorable but seemed more desperate than professional.
Creative attention-getting efforts do work sometimes, but not everyone can pull it off and not every organization welcomes these tactics.
Good resumes and skilled employees will always be in demand, no matter how tough the job market. Put these resume tips to work for you.