Landing your dream job can be a challenge, especially in fields with a competitive job market. To have a chance at a phone call – never mind an-person interview – your resume must grab your potential employer’s attention and then keep them focused on you!
1. Quantify your contributions. Don’t just list the tasks you do. Instead, use numbers to show the volume and impact of your work. If possible, explain how your actions benefited or improved your team or the company as whole.
2. Tailor your resume for each specific job. For each job you apply to, think about what skills, qualifications and experience you should highlight on your resume. If it’s applicable, include how your current role is similar to the job for which you are currently applying (but don't exaggerate!). For example, if you're applying to be a manager, list your previous or current management responsibilities and project leadership experiences.
3. Include your hobbies, freelance or volunteer work when it’s relevant. If you're applying for a position as a computer programmer and your hobby is developing mobile apps or helping with a non-profit’s website as a volunteer, include those items on your resume. Hobbies and additional work can show that you are passionate about a subject or that you have taken the initiative to develop a skill outside of your current position. If you don’t have room on your resume, you can mention them in your cover letter instead.
4. Create a resume that's easy to skim. Format your resume with bold headings and bullet points and start each section with the most impressive skill or job responsibility. Unless you have over 5 years of experience, keep your resume to one page. Even if your resume is two pages, the most important information should still appear on the first page. Remember, hiring managers may see tons of resumes, so yours could have only a few seconds to grab their attention.
5. Clean up and unclutter your layout. Leave white space around the edges and delete unnecessary items like supervisor contact information or "References available upon request." (If they want references, they'll ask!) Use tables to ensure each column is perfectly lined up.
6. Leave a professional impression. Use bright white paper or professional letterhead, make sure the ink in your printer is dark, and select an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman or Arial in 10- to 12-point size. And of course, proofread and then proofread again. You want to captivate the employer with your impressive qualifications, not an offbeat font choice or multiple spelling errors!
Note: This blog was originally published August 15, 2013 and updated April 13, 2018.