Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time, are making a career change, or you’ve faced an extended period of unemployment, one of the first things you’ll need to do is focus on updating your resume.
As your resume will essentially be deciding factor of whether an employer pushes your application to the next stage of the hiring process, you absolutely need to make sure this document is “up to snuff,” so to speak.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the most effective ways of forming a new resume, ensuring that your next application quickly catches the eye of your prospective employer.
4 Important Things to Do When Creating Your Next Resume
Before we dive into the specifics, we’ll offer this overarching piece of advice: Make sure the resume you hand to each potential employer is unique in some way or another.
In other words, you should never use a “boilerplate” resume when applying for a job. As we go through this article, the reason for this should become crystal clear.
#1: Keep the Position and Employer in Mind
Your resume is not meant to be your life story. Rather, it’s supposed to provide the details of your life experience that are relevant to the position in question.
That said, before you begin dumping information into your resume, take a moment to see things from your prospective employer’s perspective. Consider:
- What they’ll want and need to know about you
- What aspects of your professional life they’ll see as important
- What areas of your professional life they probably won’t care about
Approaching your resume in this manner will not only allow you to paint yourself in the best light for a potential employer – it’ll also increase the chances that they’ll actually take the time to read it in the first place.
#2: Quantify Accomplishments and Results
Your resume is your opportunity to highlight your professional accomplishments. When doing so, however, you need to be as specific as possible – and provide the necessary evidence to back up your claims. In other words, it’s not enough to say you “helped your last company increase year-over-year sales numbers.” This is a rather arbitrary claim; maybe you sales numbers increased by .005%, or maybe they increased by 25% – and, in either case, your involvement in the increase is questionable.
On the other hand, you might say you “Acquired ten new clients for XYZ Firm, leading to an increase in annual revenues of $200,000.” In this case, because you nailed down specific metrics regarding your accomplishments, your involvement in the process is much more apparent (not to mention believable).
#3: Use Active Voice and Action Words
Piggybacking off the last section, you definitely want to avoid being “wishy-washy” in the way you word your accomplishments on your resume. Let’s again use an example to illustrate our point.
First, a passive statement:
“I was awarded a bonus for my contribution to my last company’s overall increase in sales.”
Aside from the non-specific part of the statement, the way in which the sentence is worded makes it seem as if the bonus was given to the individual arbitrarily.
Here’s how the same statement would appear when written with active voice:
“I earned a bonus for my contribution…”
See the difference? In this second example, the bonus wasn’t just bestowed on the individual; the person earned it through hard work and diligence.
#4: Organize, Format, Review, and Edit
When it comes to organizing your resume, there are two main ways of doing so:
Chronological organization works best when your career has progressed in a “traditional” manner, and you’ve faced minimal gaps in employment. For example, if you’re applying for a promotion within the company you’re currently working with, or for a similar position within a different company, a chronological resume would be most effective.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to make a career change, or you’re re-entering the workforce after some time off, you’ll want to highlight your professional accomplishments throughout the course of your life (rather than calling unnecessary attention to gaps or shifts in your employment status).
After you’ve put together your resume, make sure to proofread it. Even better, have a friend or peer check it over before you send it to your prospective employer. You’ve worked way too hard documenting your professional history and abilities; you don’t want a small typo or poor formatting to be the reason your resume ends up in the “no” pile.
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