Is your resume remarkable, or does it blend into the background? If you’re trying to stand out among the competition for that dream job, you need a resume that really shines.
“There’s a lot of competition out there for just about every job,” said UMUC Career Advising Specialist and board certificated Career Counselor Ann Martin. “You need to make sure your resume gets you noticed—for the right reasons—so you can wow them in person during the interview.”
Here are some rules for writing a resume hiring managers will remember:
Rule #1: Show them what you can do for them
Today’s employers are looking for solutions to their problems. Don’t make them work hard to sift through your information to see if you’re a good fit for their needs. Instead, make sure your relevance comes across loud and clear.
To do this, try to approach your resume from the mindset of the hiring manager. Filling the position with the right candidate and satisfying the organization’s business needs is their primary concern. Communicate that you are the right candidate for the job by effectively aligning your talents and experience with those needed for the position.
“Employers recruit to fill predetermined positions with stated requirements and parameters,” notes Martin. “You must clearly explain what you have to offer relative to the needs of the marketplace and of the desired position.”
Rule #2: Keep it short and sweet
A prospective employer is likely to only give your resume a passing glance. You need to make sure that every word on it counts. Give your most impressive experience and accomplishments top billing, and be sure to show how you made a measurable impact for your previous employers.
If you have a lot of work experience under your belt, you can leave out experience related to internships or early entry-level positions. Likewise, if you have a college degree, you can also keep your resume from getting too long by omitting your high school information.
Rule #3: Pay attention to the details
Typos, grammatical errors and formatting mistakes make a sloppy first impression—one that can be difficult to overcome. Be sure to proofread your resume carefully—and have a friend or family member do the same. After all, your resume is the very first example of a work product a hiring manager will see, so don’t give them reason to assume you are careless, notes Martin.
It’s best to use a consistent tone throughout, describing your experience and skills in plain language so anyone who picks up your resume, regardless of their industry, can understand what you have to offer.
It’s important that your contact information is professional, too. If you use an informal email address from your younger years that is funny or controversial, you may come across as immature or rough around the edges—qualities you’re not trying to convey. Save that one for your old friends, and create new email account that sounds professional to use in your job search.
Rule #4: Show some creativity
You’re not generic, and your resume shouldn’t be, either. As you focus on selling your unique skills, take care to avoid cliched, tired and overused adjectives. Don’t sound like everyone else. Express your unique selling points and show what is special about you and the value you can bring.
“Everyone claims to be hard-working, a great communicator, have attention to detail and such,” says Martin. “Say something unique that differentiates you from the crowd. Then support it with the information in your work history.”
Rule #5: Make employers feel special
When it comes to your resume, there’s no such thing as one and done. In today’s job market, you should plan to customize it for every job you pursue so your relevant skills and experience shine in the eyes of your prospective employer.
To accomplish this, save your main resume to use as a template. Then, highlight the areas where you can make simple changes that will make this document feel fresh and resonate with any prospective employer. It’s also a good idea to consider where you could add a bit of color or change the font to appeal to both conservative and creative employers, as needed.
In the end, the effort you put into your resume will help give you the edge when you’re compared with other job seekers—and yield professional rewards.
For more information on developing an effective resume and to receive feedback on your resume, visit CareerQuest’s resume tools VMOCK and Resunate. These tools provide a real-time analysis and recommendations for improving your resume. For more resume assistance, contact your UMUC Career Services Office at 240-684-2720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.