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How To Make Your Resume Pop, Not Flop

How To Make Your Resume Pop, Not Flop

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Strong content with an aesthetically pleasing format is by far the best way to generate interest and get the interview. Having written and reviewed thousands of resumes (over 10,000 at this point!), I am still amazed by how many common errors are made on resumes and cover letters – the kinds of errors that will immediately send your resume to the trashcan.

Related: How To Transform Your Resume From Vintage To Viral

If you know how to make your resume pop with clear structure and strong proofreading, you will solidify your first place position in the interview line. Here are some tips:

Opening Paragraph

A good way to help the reader understand the difference between responsibilities and achievements is to separate the information into a bullet point and paragraph style. The paragraph part should come directly under the titles of your positions. The paragraph should consist of 5-6 lines of information that provide a brief understanding of what you do; and for smaller companies, I recommend adding something about the business so the reader gains information about the nature of the company and industry.

Bullet Points

After you draft your paragraph, you should have key achievements – these are the bullets. The reader will be drawn to this information where you will provide examples of the work completed and the outcome. Where possible, make sure that there are metrics to support your work. I don’t advise a bullet that is longer than three lines. If it is getting that long, consider a sub bullet to talk about the project in further detail. For each main bullet, I recommend two sub bullets so the information looks complete.

Size Matters

Do not try to cram all of your information onto one page. If you have enough content for a 1.5- or 2-page document, go for it. There is nothing worse than trying to read a resume as if you are reading the fine print on a sweepstakes. You want to engage the reader, not send them to a Duane Reade for reading glasses. If the font is too small, your resume will quickly make its way to the ‘No’ pile.

Formatting Fiasco

The overabundant use of formatting will not score you any points. You want the resume to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. I understand you want to make sure you stand out; but, preparing your resume with a lot of glitz (aka underline, bold, italics) is distracting. The resume should be professional and not overly busy.

Inconsistent Use Of Punctuation

To have a serial comma or not, that is the question. If you use it, make sure you use it everywhere. Consistency is king (or queen, as the case may be) on your resume. Using periods at the ends of your bullets? Fine. But they need to be everywhere. Same rules apply for numbers. Make sure that you present them in a consistent manner. My general rule of thumb is to write out numbers under 10; for numbers over 10, I use the numeric equivalent.

Capitalizing On Capitalization

Proper nouns should be capitalized. Period.

Widows And Orphans

If you have one word on a line by itself rewrite it so that it is on one line only or add additional words so that it extends onto the second line. It looks strange to have only one word on a line.

I Repeat Myself Under Stress; I Repeat Myself Under Stress

Repetitive word use in your resume is BORING. Get a thesaurus or go online and choose different words that mean the same thing. Select verbs that are exciting and allow your audience to learn how interesting and compelling you are as a candidate.

Speilling (Sp) Errors

Nothing screams careless like spelling errors. Spell check is not enough. Check your work and double check it. Read it backwards to catch those spelling errors that are trying to slip past you!! Get another set of eyes. Get it right.

Until they meet you and find out how wonderful and engaging you are – your resume is your representative and the definitive gateway to the interview.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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Debra Wheatman | Certified Professional Resume Writer & Career Coach

About the author

With 20+ years as a strategic career advisor, Debra helps clients obtain highly desired interviews for competitive positions, including preparing results-oriented resumes, and providing guidance centered around interview preparation, salary negotiations, and overall career management. Visit her website at Careersdonewrite.com!


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.


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Debra Wheatman

Debra Wheatman, president of Careers Done Write, is globally recognized as an expert in advanced career search techniques. She helps clients obtain highly desired interviews for competitive positions.