Creating the perfect résumé: What you should always do and never do.
With up to 100 people applying for each job, it can be difficult to distinguish yourself from the vast pool of candidates competing for the next available position. Before you open your laptop and place your fingers on the keyboard, ask yourself a few questions:
How are people finding lucrative positions in this economy? Where will you apply for your next great job? Who will be reading your résumé? Will it be scanned for keywords? What methods are companies using to attract top talent?
Knowing your audience is invaluable, so before you begin the process try to find out as much as you can about the company’s hiring process. Your résumé is your chief marketing tool. The résumé communicates your strengths and weaknesses to screening recruiters and hiring managers. When your résumé is concise, content-rich, consistent, clear and laced with accomplishments, you increase your odds of being successful.
A recent discussion with hiring professionals on Linked-in pinpointed a few of the “nevers” as they apply to job search along with a few of the “always” required to create the perfect résumé. Before you eliminate the “nevers” or integrate all of the “always”, read this entire piece.
- Always help the reader by making your contact information easy to find and read
- Always establish the focal point or purpose of your résumé
Always use a reverse chronological format to discuss your career history and highlight the positions that support your focus
- Always rethink sending more than two pages. When writing a résumé that is more than two pages, make sure your industry demands such a presentation. Proceed cautiously especially if you are not a professor, physician, scientist or in other careers that demand a complete list of publications, projects, presentations, patients and accomplishments
- Always use a professional email address. Many internet security professionals recommend an email address that is used exclusively for job search and omitting your home address
Always send unstapled pages when sending résumés by snail mail
- Always record a professional voice mail. During the job search is not a time to be funny, cute or creative
Always provide the company a 10 to 15 year work history (unless you are a recent graduate)
- Always show computer competencies and a willingness to learn new applications
- Always frame your accomplishments in a way that shows progression and success
- Never use “responsibilities include” or “duties are as follows”
- Never ramble or provide pointless information on your résumés.
- Only provide concise, relevant information
- Never include personal information on your résumé, i.e. height, weight, hair color, age, marital status, gender, ethnicity – unless it is required by the profession
- Never overwhelm the reader by double spacing the résumé
- Never include your social security number on your résumé (federal applications my ask for this information)
- Never use a hard to read font, less than 11 point or all caps (except for headings)
- Never list education graduation and degree dates unless granted in the past 10
- Never use headers or footers on your résumé when using an email formats
- Never omit professional organizations, volunteer participation and continuing education
- Never write your résumé by committee, which will only mix up authorship and style
- Never lie or exaggerate on your résumé. If you do not have a degree don’t say that you have one on your résumé
- Never set your margins at .5 on all sides to make the text fit. Remember white space has eye appeal
- Never include salary information on your résumé (unless you are completing a federal application)
At a recent convention of over 300 hiring managers, the question was asked, “What are the five qualities required to be successful in the industry?” This is not an all inclusive list, but this list does touch on core competencies and expectations of employers.
- Good communication skills using written, presentation and electronic platforms along with bilingual fluency
- Detail oriented, efficient time management and organizational skills
- Technical and/or industry experience (this information will be unique to each position)
- The ability to grasp the expectations of the job and transform that vision into action with measurable, sustainable results
- Professionalism in dress, relationship building and presence
If you get whiplash reading résumé writing tips, you’re not alone. Many résumé experts provide tips that may or may not work for your unique job search or region of the country. Identify your qualifications, pinpoint your qualities that meet the requirements of the advertised position and develop language that will hit the bull’s eye. Go a step further and define other attributes that would be an asset to the position that interest you in order to capture success by landing a position with a company that rewards performance.
For over 18 years, Vicki Hidde has been fortunate to work with professional clients every day who face the challenge of preparing a résumé. Not just any résumé, but one that will pinpoint their most marketable skills, capture the attention of the employer or recruiter and provide the foundation for financial growth and career development. Her career began as a Consultant for Professional Resume Service (later CareerPro), a national career development and résumé service with more than 500 locations. Later, she was promoted to regional director over the five southern states and then to division director with responsibility for career centers in 28 states. With well-developed contacts in the personnel industry and with human resource managers, she has provided in-house workshops on career management, as well as outplacement and termination assistance programs for companies ranging from local businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Learn more at resume-source.com.