Writing it right.
Your résumé is the Master key that leads to a new job; it's usually a means of introduction between you and a hiring manager, and it has to both tease and interest him or her to want to learn more while providing enough details to convince him or her that you're qualified for the position. Here are some alphabetical tips.
A is for ... Ax the objective.
We've said it again and again -- objectives are so 1990. The big issue -- besides that they state the obvious (you're seeking work) -- is they outline what you want and need. At this stage, an employer is more concerned with how well you match what he or she wants and needs.
B is for ... Beware the buzzwords.
These phrases are empty calories on a résumé -- not only are they overused, but they usually don't describe anything about you that a hiring manager could verify. Avoid canned descriptors such as "team player," "hardworking" or "detail oriented," and instead let your credentials and accomplishments illustrate how you're qualified.
C is for ... Customize.
No two employers should receive the same résumé from you. You can work from a skeleton template for each position you apply for, but besides that, you should tweak your document each time you submit, to accentuate the accomplishments and qualifications you have that best match the employer's needs.
D is for ... Decide on a format.
There are three popular formats: The most common is chronological, organized by jobs that you list from most recent to oldest. Functional résumés are good for those with less experience because they allow you to group accomplishments and experiences by your relevant skills. Combination résumés blend the best elements of the first two, allowing you to associate your skills with the jobs you've held in the order you worked in them.
E is for ... Email-proof your document.
The résumé was perfection on your computer, but the version the employer received features funky spacing and weird-looking text. This is all too common, so do a dry run -- send a copy to a friend or to a different email account of your own. Preview how it reads when pasted into the body of an email. Also send a PDF copy that retains its formatting when attached.
F is for ... Follow instructions.
You're being tested at every step of the hiring process, including how well you read and follow application instructions from the job listing. Do not attach the résumé to an email if you're supposed to submit your file to an applicant tracking system. Do not include your references if they weren't requested yet.
G is for ... Grab the reader.
Make sure you're emphasizing the right information in your text. In 2012, job search service TheLadders released a survey that determined recruiters spend only six seconds reviewing a résumé. In that time, most gaze over an applicant's name, current title, company, start and end dates; the applicant's previous title, company, start and end dates; and the applicant's education. Recruiters then scan for keywords that match those from the job listing.
H is for ... Hold on to all versions of submitted résumés.
Develop a naming and filing convention so you can track each customized résumé you send. When saving the digital files, use the name of the position, the employer and the date of submission -- "SalesManagerMacys042514" -- because the more detail you include, the easier it'll be to refer back to the document.
I is for ... Infographic résumés. They aren't worth the hype.
Infographics catch the eye, but they're not always appropriate. If you work in a visual field, there's a bonus to choosing this format and doing it well, but if you're ... a tax attorney, there's not as much benefit. If you do use one, you should have experience in design or be willing to pay a professional designer to do the work. You also need to have a plain Jane text form to use in a pinch.
J is for ... Jargon and schmaltz aren't needed.
Your résumé should read well regardless of whether it lands on the desk of a human resources professional, a recruiter or the person who will be your direct supervisor, so don't include SAT words or industry-speak to make a positive impression. The best way to come off as intelligent and knowledgeable of your industry is to use plain language.
K is for ... KISS (aka Keep It Simple, Silly).
Hiring managers read résumés hoping to find the right qualifications, and if a newfangled fad -- whether it's font, color, icons, pictures, QR codes or anything else -- detracts from finding those qualifications, it's a waste of time. It's OK to ace one of the go-to résumé formats.
L is for ... Leave your hobbies off.
Save this stuff for cocktail chatter. The only exception to this is if you're applying for a position that's related to your interest in archery or if you know for sure the person receiving your document has a love for paddleboarding that rivals your own.
M is for ... Mind the gaps.
Employers only see employment gaps as negative when they're not explained, because it raises questions and concerns as to what you're withholding. Either highlight the volunteer work you did while unemployed -- which means you need to volunteer while you're unemployed -- or use a functional résumé format to de-emphasize the time lapse.
N is for ... Never submit on a Saturday.
The weekend is for revising your résumé, not submitting it. Bright.com (which was recently acquired by LinkedIn) conducted a survey in 2013 that found 5 percent of job seekers surveyed submit on weekends, but only 14 percent of those who did moved forward in the hiring process. Monday is the best day to press the send button; 30 percent of those who submitted that day progressed on.
O is for ... One to two pages only.
Two pages are all right if you have the relevant experience to support that length. For those early in their careers, a one-page document will do. Even those who are more advanced might only have enough to fill a sole page of text.
P is for ... Proofread your work.
And then proofread it again. Ask a friend to look it over, then proofread it yourself once more. Then, each time you submit your résumé, read it a final time before pressing the send button. A hiring manager might not rule you out for misspellings, but do you really want to run the risk?
Q is for ... Quarter your content.
Your template needs at least four sections: Qualifications, Education, Experience and Contact Information. But don't consider that your limit. Many hiring managers now look for a skills section, and you could also include information on volunteer work, professional development, publications and awards.
R is for ... Remember the Golden Rule of job searching.
You absolutely cannot fudge your skills at any stage of the hiring process, including on your résumé. If you're hired and then found out to have embellished, an employer could use it as grounds for firing you.
S is for ... Stick to the STAR.
Hiring managers are looking to see how your skills produce results. An effective way to illustrate that is to describe your experiences using the STAR acronym: explaining Situations, Tasks, Actions and Results. Thinking of your work this way is also a good storytelling method on interviews.
T is for ... Trim the fat.
You're probably packing in information you don't need, like the name of your high school (if you're older than age 20 or a college graduate, strike this), irrelevant work and job duties (part-time waitressing and baby-sitting should only be included when applicable) or subjective descriptions (you have "great leadership skills," but according to whom?).
U is for ... Update regularly.
Add accomplishments and important career milestones to your template as they occur. That way you won't forget to sell your qualifications and skills based on your best work.
V is for ... Video résumés aren't interchangeable with a text document.
Choosing to explain your qualifications using video is tricky, and the best practices for them mirror those for using an infographic: 1) It's a good idea when done by professionals in related fields; so in other words, if you've had media training and are pursuing a job in media. 2) A video cannot replace a traditionally formatted résumé, which you'll still need for most jobs.
W is for ... Write around pronouns.
Save the I's and me's for your cover letter. It's implied that you're the subject of every sentence or bullet point of a résumé. Shorthand, telegraph-style statements are the norm. For example: "Grew revenue from $45K to $200K in two years."
X is for ... Xerox is your buddy.
This is where having a detailed filing and naming convention will work in your favor -- go back and see the slide for H -- because you should carry extra copies of the appropriate résumé to interviews, job fairs and business meetings.
Y is for ...You should use keywords wisely.
Keywords hook an employer in to read your résumé closely, but you want to be careful that you're not stuffing your document with the appropriate text. Don't just list, "knowledge of Wrike" -- actually provide examples of how you've used the software as a project manager.
Z is for ... Zeal never hurts.
Successful job searches are about more than just submitting a résumé on the right day highlighting the right skills and using the right keywords. You also need to show your preparedness for the job during the interview stage, be a proper culture fit for the position and show a little enthusiasm. It takes effort and energy for your efforts to result in a job offer.
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