It’s no secret that your resume needs to be impressive to land an interview, but what makes a resume good in the eyes of a potential employer? What impresses hiring managers in today’s job market? These are five things that make your resume stand out: length, content, organization, customization, and design.
There are articles scattered across the Internet about how long your resume should be, and there’s only one correct answer: make it as long as it needs to be based off of your individual background and your career goals. Articles stating that your resume should only be one page, regardless of your experience level, are misleading and may cost you an opportunity for an interview.
There are some general guidelines, however, that I recommend following: If you are a recent graduate with little to no experience in your field, stick to one page. If you are a mid-career professional, aim for no more than two pages and highlight your accomplishments.
If you are in the higher academic or scientific research fields, the sky is the limit. Everyone’s background is different, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” rule, but try to be as brief as possible while still including all of your most important information.
The content you include (or leave out) could easily make or break your resume. I have written thousands of resumes for virtually every career you can imagine, and what I’ve learned is that being concise is more effective than any other strategy. Hiring Managers look at resumes every single day, so they have a pretty good idea what they want to read about, and what they want to skip over.
Include a brief summary of your daily responsibilities, then make your achievements the focus of the resume. Everyone knows what a salesman does, but not everyone knows that you increased revenue by $1.5M in 2011 (as an example). Achievements sell you to employers, not overly-inflated adjectives describing your daily responsibilities.
How your resume is organized is equally as important as the content you include. Structure your resume so that your most impressive (and most relevant) information is towards the top, and list everything else in order of diminishing importance.
If you are an accomplished executive with a laundry list of achievements, listing your Associate’s Degree from 1982 at the top of your resume is going to hurt your chances at landing the interview. Remember, someone is going to spend 10-15 seconds glancing at your resume for something interesting before they make the decision to actually read the whole thing. What do you want them to see first?
Today, more than ever, it is incredibly important to tailor your resume towards the specific job(s) you are applying for. Gone are the days of having one “universal” resume that you send to multiple companies. The job market is incredibly competitive, and selling yourself to potential employers is no easy task, so make sure to highlight your skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for – the more specific, the better.
The design of your resume, as trivial as it may seem, can play a big part in an employer’s decision to call you for an interview. Find a happy medium between a plain, boring resume and one that looks like it came out of a Sunday newspaper sale advertisement. Using color is fine, but do not go over-the-top with any crazy effects or you will be seen as unprofessional. In addition to looking unprofessional, complex designs may also interfere with software that HR may be using to screen and/or evaluate your resume.
In summary, take some time to think about each of the factors above when you are writing your resume. If you have doubts about the effectiveness of your resume, consider hiring a resume writing service to make sure everything is done professionally. One small mistake can prevent your career from progressing, but a well-written resume can create opportunities that will take your career to the next level.
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