Because employers receive so many resumes, you must make sure yours will catch the employer’s attention within a 5 second glance. Your resume must read as a solid and effective marketing tool. It is the employer’s first impression of you.
We used our experience as recruitment professionals to list below the most important “Do’s and Don’ts” when writing a resume. We hope this will help you to write a bullet proof resume that will get you that job interview!
Do not send a standard resume:
One of the most common mistakes is to create a standard resume and send it to every opening. Take the time to customize your resume for each position. It is definitely worth it, as it will significantly increase your chances in landing an interview. The same point applies to your cover letters.
- Research the company’s mission and vision on their website; look for keywords and values you can use in your resume.
- Where is the company going? Are you on the same path? Make this obvious in your resume.
- For IT and engineering positions, make sure you know the methodologies and technical environments in use at the company. Highlight your experience with those in your resume.
- Analyze the job description and make sure you clearly mention the main skills in your resume.
- Recruiters know their clients. Let them advise you on how to adjust your resume for that particular position.
Make the content of your resume sell:
Know that employers don’t always have the time to read through your entire resume. Make it easy for them to find the information they are looking for. If they see unrelated job titles or skills before they can find the information they are looking for, they will very likely pass on your application.
- Use keywords that are similar to the ones used in the job add.
- Bold the skills and experience that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Use job titles and headings that match the job you are targeting. For example, if you are applying for a .NET Developer position, make sure that for your past .NET development positions, you use the title “.NET Developer” versus “Developer”
- Sell yourself and show how hiring you would benefit the employer. Detail your accomplishments, improvements you implemented, and if possible the financial benefits your current and past employers gained thanks to your performance. Using numbers and quantifying creates vivid images in the employer’s mind, whereas general statements are easy to skip over and forget.
- Use Action and Power words. For example, do not use “responsible for …” but use words such as “Managed” “Directed”, “performed”
- Prioritize the content of your resume. Put first the most relevant information.
- Structure your work experience, mention employers, locations and dates.
- IT professionals should, for every position, detail the technical environment they worked in and how the technology was used.
- Explain gaps. Do not let an employer grow suspicious of gaps in your employment. Mention volunteer work, training or even career breaks to be a full time mom.
- Do not lie. Even small lies should be avoided. Most HR departments do background checks and if they discover a lie, it will ruin your credibility.
Do not overdo layout and design details:
- Keep the layout simple, structured, and clear. Do not use a colored background, fancy fonts or images on your resume.
- Use bullets and short sentences where ever you can. No employer will have the time or patience to read long paragraphs of text.
- Do not jam your resume with text. Allow white space between the words, lines and paragraphs, it can improve the legibility of your resume.
- Unless the employer specifically requested it, you should avoid attaching your picture to the resume.
- Make sure that the font is big enough; the smallest you should go is 11 points. Arial and Times are usually preferred.
Keep it as short and concise as possible:
It can be challenging to keep your resume to a 1 or 2 page document but as mentioned previously, employers usually do not take time to read through a long resume. They will make their decision before finishing the first page. Just remember to keep it as short as possible and focused on the information that will land you a job interview.
- Do not mention obvious information such as “Available for interview” or “References available upon request.” Once you apply for a position, it is assumed that you are available to interview and will provide references if requested.
- You do not need to detail all your work experience. Past positions that are not relevant can be listed but not detailed. Successive, short consulting assignments can usually be mentioned in one job description. Make sure to give names of a few relevant clients. More details will be asked, if needed, during the interview.
- Skip irrelevant information such as Hobbies and religion.
Proofread your resume:
Small typos or grammatical errors will decrease your chances of getting an interview.
- Make sure to proofread your own resume at least twice.
- Have someone else review your resume.
- Consider using a professional service to write your resume.
- Make sure that your resume can be emailed easily. A word format of your resume attached to an email is generally the preferred format.
Remember that you are trying to sell yourself. All of the effort that you put into creating your resume will give you an advantage over the other candidates.