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The first step toward landing a job is submitting a winning resume. A well-designed, focused resume gives a great first impression. Your resume should identify you, state your job objective, list your educational and work experience and include key skills, honors and volunteer activities.
Employers have limited time to review the many applications they receive. Consider these recommendations to ensure your resume stands out in the crowd.
Start with a well-written cover letter. A cover letter is your opportunity to express your interest in the job, reflect your attitude and explain your background. Never use a generic cover letter for different job applications because it’s just too easy to overlook a mistake. There’s no quicker way to make a bad impression than to reference the wrong company or position.
Your cover letter is also your chance to prove that you’re the best candidate for the position. Be sure to highlight specific tasks, projects or perspectives that are in line with skills needed for the job. Keep it to one page and write it to complement the information on your resume, not repeat it. For inspiration, check out this cover letter example (PDF).
A chronological resume (PDF) lists educational and work experience in reverse order (the most recent experience first). This may be best for someone who has recently graduated and has less job experience.
A functional resume (PDF) highlights skills and accomplishments rather than providing a chronological record of your job history. This style may be better for someone with previous job experience and related skills.
Create a user-friendly page with a clean layout, lots of white space and simple font. Bold headings and bullets emphasize important points, making it easy for hiring managers to quickly skim your information. Avoid using color and being too wordy; both are distracting.
List your mailing and email addresses, along with your home and cell phone numbers. If you’re moving soon, list a phone number where you can always be reached or left a message. Also consider creating a professional email address. Your ‘prettyGurl222’ account is fine for friends, but you’ll want to set up a new account with a free provider for your job search.
Focus on skills and experience that directly relate to the job. If you’re applying for an accounting job, hiring managers probably won’t be interested in your role as an event photographer, but they will care about your experience managing the event budget.
Highlight skills, accomplishments and achievements, but don’t blow them out of proportion. Employers will do their research and won’t be pleased if they catch you in a lie.
Don’t forget to list extracurricular or volunteer experience that may interest an employer. Great work-related skills can be gained through community service.
Some words have been overused and no longer impress potential employers. Check this list of “action words” (PDF) worth considering, and keep in mind you should also have examples to back up your claims. For example, instead of saying that you ‘implemented your company’s social media presence’, take it one-step further by explaining how you ‘implemented your company’s social media presence, which resulted in a 12% increase in business during promotional periods’. See the difference?
Typos and grammatical errors are common - but avoidable - mistakes. Don’t rely on spell check. Go over your resume with a fine-toothed comb, then have friends or family members proof your work. Today’s job market is filled with stiff competition; one typo could stand between you and the perfect job.
Above all else, make sure your resume reflects who you are and sells your skills and abilities. An employer who’s read your resume should have a clear picture of who you are and what you can bring to the organization.