One of my favorite jobs in college was working at the University Career Services. It was my job to help students get hired. I trained with career specialists and then sat down with students one-on-one to critique and guide their resumes. After working with hundreds of resumes, I have compiled this list of a few good tricks that make every resume job-worthy.
1: At A Glance.
What does your resume look like at a glance? Odds are employers are handed a massive stack of resumes and if yours doesn’t stand out or it looks too complicated, they’ll toss it. It’s important that the employer’s first impression of you be a clean, organized, and well-balanced resume.
2: One Page.
Limit your resume to one page, especially if you’re an undergrad. I’ve known employers who immediately toss two-page resumes before even reading them. Avoid them like the plague. More importantly, sticking to this guideline will help you to keep your descriptions concise and to the point.
3: Easy to Navigate.
Don’t make employers work to find the information they need. Make sure each section of your resume is clearly labeled and smartly organized. For example, I always state my education at the top of my resume because education is usually the first qualification for a job.
4: Nothing From High School
Unless you’re a freshman in college (or a high school student), nobody cares about your life as a minor. Don’t list anything about high school on your resume, no matter how impressive you think it is. If you are a Freshman in college, you especially need to work hard to get other experiences that you can put on your resume. Join a club, get a part time job, volunteer. Anything for experience that’s not from high school. My only exception to this rule is if you are currently doing something you started in high school, like volunteering for the same organization (or within the same field) or still writing for your blog. This can show that you are passionate about these things because you’ve been doing them for a long time. Other than that, try your best to get experience outside of your high school days.
5: Related vs. Additional Experience
Up until recently, this is how I usually divided up my resume (I have finally gained enough Related Experience in my field that I no longer have room for Additional Experience). Related Experience is anything (job, club, volunteering, awards) that shows I have the skills for and will succeed at a specific job I’m applying for. Additional Experience is where I put those odd jobs I got just to pay the bills. These jobs are still important because they show that you’re humble enough to clean restrooms and that you’re not afraid of work. I also use these jobs to show I have the typical characteristics every job posting asks for: “Good customer service, works well as a team member, leadership experience, detail oriented, etc.”
6: Key Words From The Job Posting
Once I have formatted my resume, I compare it side-by-side to the job posting. I then pluck words from the job posting and put them in my resume (only if they truly apply to my resume. Never lie on a resume). This is how you get past resume filters and HR people. Specific words from the job posting will be used in filters or looked for by an HR person screening resumes. Using the company’s lingo on your resume will get you one step closer to an interview.
7: Print Your Resume In Black and White
This is extremely important, especially if you are daring enough to have a resume design that isn’t traditional. While I tend to use black, dark blue or dark red colors on my resume, I understand that some creative jobs require more creative resume designs. If you fall under this category, print your resume out in black and white ink before you submit it. There is a high chance that if you apply online or through email, your resume will be printed out in black and white ink and then looked at by the employer. You want your resume to still be legible even if it is not in color. Remember, the function of your resume always needs to out way the design of your resume.
My last piece of advice is to think of your resume as a canvas, not a buffet. When you’re at a buffet, you usually throw anything on your plate just to fill it up. People tend to do this with resumes as well. Don’t just put anything on your resume to fill up space. Instead, look at your resume as a canvas, where each stroke of the paintbrush is deliberate. Everything about your resume needs to be deliberate and it needs to contribute to the job you are applying for. Remember, the purpose of a resume is to get an interview, not the job. You don’t have to put your entire life story on your resume. You just want to peak the employer’s interest and prove that you have the skills to be successful in that job. The interview is where you convince them to hire you.
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