[This article originally appeared on the Virtual Vocations blog here.]
Do you feel like your resume is mediocre compared to others in your field, or perhaps on paper you don’t shine as bright as you do in person? We can help! Here's a thing or two about what employers are looking for in potential hires.
1. Scratch the Objective and Focus on Your Best Qualities
Remember the old resume rule that the first line of your document is for your job objective? Forget it—that’s precious resume real estate you cannot afford to waste.
Instead, the top of your resume should feature a three-bullet-point list of your best qualities. Think of these points as your own personal headlines. If you had 100 characters to summarize who you are, what would you say?
2. Summarize Information
There’s nothing hiring managers dislike more than staring at a block of text and trying to figure out where to place their attention, especially when they have to review dozens or hundreds of resumes for any given job vacancy.
You’ll make yourself more marketable to a potential employer if you make your resume easy on the eyes. Think in terms of bullet points, short paragraphs two to three sentences in length, and bolded headers to guide your reader through the main points of your work history.
3. Tailor the Content
It’s fine to utilize a standard resume format, but take the time to customize your resume so it’s congruent with the job to which you are applying. Otherwise, your resume may be filed into the generic response pile.
Remember, you don’t have to include every single detail on your resume, like gaps in work history or reasons for leaving previous jobs—those subjects will be covered during a job interview. For now, focus on the core details like your major professional accomplishments and key responsibilities in past roles.
4. When It Comes to Numbers, Show Don’t Tell
Saying you saved your current employer money on the annual budget or exceeded your department’s sales goals for the quarter isn’t as effective as providing a prospective employer with actual figures in dollars and cents. Give yourself a marketability boost by listing facts and figures illustrating your success record within the Qualifications and Accomplishments or Awards sections of your resume.
5. Add Evidence of Going the Extra Mile
Did you create company events or processes to improve company morale at your last job? Were you involved in a push to achieve record-breaking attendance or get the media interested in your company? Don’t gloss over your accomplishments. You’ll set yourself apart from the competition if you use your resume to demonstrate that you are willing to go the extra mile to help your employer succeed.
6. Ensure Your Contact Information Is Easy to Find
Don’t make it difficult for an employer to contact you for an interview. Include your phone number, e-mail address, and website URL in your resume’s header and footer. If you’re applying to a job that requires you to have a prominent social media presence, you can include URLs to your top social media pages in these sections as well.
Bonus Tip: It should go without saying, but if you have a cutesy or inappropriate email username, it’s time for an upgrade to a professional account. Keep it simple by using your first and last name, or perhaps your first initial with your last name.
7. Check for Typos
It’s an easy tip to forget, but it’s a critical one: when applying to jobs, nothing will crush your marketability faster than submitting a sloppy resume sporting typographical errors.
After you complete and review your resume on your computer, print a copy and review it one more time. Then, recruit a friend or colleague with a discerning eye to examine your resume as well. Seeking a fresh pair of eyes to review your resume is crucial, because once you’ve stared at your own words for hours on end it’s difficult to notice mistakes.
8. Format Strategically
Your resume is a representation of you and the quality of your work. After you’ve completed your checks for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, take a step back and look at the layout of your resume.
Is it cluttered? You’ll come across as unorganized. Did you use a resume template, but left some fields blank because they didn’t apply to you? You’ll seem lazy. How about your font styles and sizes; are they consistent throughout? If not, a hiring manager could view this as a sign you don’t take pride in your work.