Your resume is one of the – if not the – first things a prospective employer will see when you submit an application for an open position.
Of course, they’ll also be inundated with dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of other resumes at the same time. And they definitely don’t have time to read through every single one.
In other words, you need to create your resume in a way that stands out above the sea of other applicants’ documentation. Otherwise…well, you might as well not even write it up in the first place.
Let’s go over what you can do to ensure prospective employers not only notice your resume, but take the time to read through every last part of it.
1) Focus on Format
Chances are, most of the resumes your prospective employer will receive will have been created using the same old templates from Microsoft Office.
While there’s nothing wrong with starting with a template, you should definitely take the time to customize your resume’s format to make it your own. A key piece of advice: keep it professional, but make sure it’s not boring.
As far as presenting the content of your resume, follow the “top third” rule. In other words, make sure to present the most important information within the top third of the page. Otherwise, your potential employer has almost no chance of seeing it.
One other thing: make sure your information flows logically. A disorganized resume has only one destination: the “no” pile.
2) Focus on Accomplishments Over Experiences
While your resume should certainly include a list of experiences you’ve had that have led to professional or personal growth, the focus should be on what you accomplished during these experiences.
For example, employers won’t care that you spent a semester abroad – a lot of applicants have probably done the same. But they would be interested to know that you spent that semester working with city officials to raise funds in order to build a recreation center for the children of the area.
A good way to think about it, as alluded to before, is to say to yourself: “Have a lot of people done this?”
If the answer is “yes,” then you need to dig deeper into what made your experience so beneficial. That’s what employers want to know.
3) Be Accurate and Specific
Along with the last point, when making claims about your accomplishments, you need to be as specific as possible.
For example, rather than saying you “raised funds for a local charity,” say exactly how much money you helped raise, and exactly what that money allowed the charity to do.
Reason being: anyone can make vague claims and “prove” them to be truthful (e.g., if you raised a dollar, you could still technically say you “raised funds for a local charity”).
By being specific and accurate with your claims, you’ll come across as much more truthful and trustworthy.
4) Use Verbs Over Adjectives
Don’t ever describe yourself within your resume. Of course you think you have “leadership qualities” and are “incredibly driven.” Every applicant thinks that of themselves.
Instead – and this goes back to listing your experiences – write what you did that proves a description of yourself to be true.
You stand a much better chance of getting a callback if your employer comes to think highly of you on their own – rather than being told of such by your resume.
Before you submit your resume, pay attention to things like its filename and file format. This will make it easily accessible to your prospective employer, and keep it from getting lost in the shuffle.
For the filename, include your name, date, and the word “resume.” For example: “SmithJohnResume2017.” Without even opening it, your employer will know your name – and be confident that you’ve recently updated your resume.
As far as format goes, PDFs are your best bet. PDF files are accessible by almost any modern device, and they’re relatively unalterable. By using the PDF format, you ensure your will get an accurate representation of your physical resume without you needing to clutter up their desk.
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