I once received a resume from a girl who put “Prom Queen” under her Skills section. No joke. Needless to say, she didn’t get the job, let alone an interview.
If you want to get your foot in the door and show a company why they won’t find someone better than you to do the job, you need to have a phenomenal resume. On average, interviewers will be sifting through at least 35 of them, so yours needs to stand out. We’ll show you how to create a masterpiece.
Most importantly, it should be well organized, accurate, and easy to read.
Make it eye-catching
Think of your resume as your first impression. You wouldn’t show up to an interview wearing khaki shorts and flip flops, so don’t let your resume give the impression that you would. You don’t want it to look like you typed it into a resume generator, to end up in the pile of resumes written by zombies. Add a little flair! Don’t be afraid to show your personality!
Experiment with fonts (use a maximum of two), type size, and margins, but don’t get too carried away – sans serif fonts – like Arial and Cambria – are the easiest to read, which is the goal.
Size 11 or 12 should be sufficient for the main text.
Bold or capitalize your headings so they stand out.
Your name should be the largest item on the page.
Use resume quality paper (copy paper is 16-20 lb., so use 24 lb. paper), in white or ivory only.
Keep it concise
You want it to all fit on one page, so leave out full sentences. Don’t include salary information, photographs, references, or your objective statement. This can be written in your cover letter, which will keep your resume cleaner and more appealing to the eye. They will be looking quickly, so put the most relevant information toward the top – Education, then work experience, then skills.
Contact info: Name, street address, city and state, phone number, and email.
Education: Where you went to school, dates attended, and any degrees, special training, awards, or honors you received (and when you received them).
Work experience: Include any paid or volunteer work experience. If you have too much to fit on one page, limit it to your 3 most recent jobs, or the ones most closely related to the job for which you’re applying. Include your job title, name of the company, city and state, dates you worked, and up to four bullets of your duties or achievements in that position.
Skills: Include foreign languages you speak, experience with specialized equipment or software, or other talents/skills you have that are relevant to the job. Leave out the obvious –
“strong work ethic,” “detail oriented,” “team player” – everyone uses these words, regardless of whether or not they have these skills, and you want to stand out, remember? Being resourceful, adaptable, and confident are qualities that employers look for.
Avoid repeated use of the same word
If every job duty involves the word “manage,” you’re going to look dull. Did you “solve” a problem, “initiate” a project, or “streamline” a company procedure? Find a way to present your previous job duties and accomplishments in a compelling way.
Some good words to use:
And please, make sure you’re using the words correctly.
References should be separate
Don’t write “references available upon request” – interviewers will already assume this is true. You should be prepared to bring a separate list of your references in case they ask for them (many interviewers do). Don’t include family – keep it to supervisors, teachers, and people who know you well enough to speak about your work capabilities.
Make sure your phone number, address, and email are correct, and double-check that there are no spelling or grammatical errors. It never hurts to show it to a friend who is good at writing. They may notice an error you overlooked several times.
Have any questions or other thoughts on how to make your resume stand out? Tell us below!