Let’s face it: tons of people are out of work. The slowly rebounding job market is literally flooded with resumes sent by individuals who are responding to any position that offers pay and benefits. High response rates weigh down human resources productivity rates; as a result, employers are responding by utilizing a variety of weeding-out techniques, including only considering people who are currently employed. Your resume has about 5-10 seconds to grab a reviewer’s attention or get tossed into the trash.
Many individuals don’t have extra funds for retaining a professional resume writer. Albeit a tempting option, avoid the shortcut of using your word processor’s template functions. Instead, take time to create a resume that will get noticed by applying the following guidelines:
1. Send Your Resume From a Professional Email Address
“Your email address is the first thing most prospective employers will see, and it carries great weight on their initial perception of you as a potential employee,” says Mikaela Nix, President of Collegiate Staffing USA, LLC. An unprofessional email address could be the reason that your email is never opened and the attached resume never reviewed. Your email address should reflect a professional mindset—no matter what type of job or position you are applying for. A good rule of thumb is to use your first and last name with either a period or dash in between. If you have a common name, you might want to add in your middle initial, numbers, or some other distinctive character.
2. Check, Double Check, and Triple Check
When you consider the number of resumes an employer receives for one job posting, it’s no wonder that one of the first factors in disqualification is a resume rampant with grammatical or mechanical errors. Don’t just rely on your program’s spell-check feature. Parse through your resume word by word at least twice, then send it to a friend or family member for a third review. Your final review should be an out-loud reading, which will reveal any errors that are easily overlooked by the human eye.
3. Mold Your Resume to Fit the Job Posting
Employers can spot a cookie-cutter resume miles away. Every time you apply for a job you should update your resume so that it is specifically geared to the position. Employers will sometimes perform a word search within your resume for the essential skills they are looking for. The job posting provides an excellent source of information for key terms and attributes, and your resume should incorporate these in your Prior Work Experience and Summary of Skills sections.
4. Design Letterhead that Stands Out
Experience as a digital artist is not required to design a snappy masthead that will catch an employer’s eye. The masthead is the section of your resume that contains your name, address and contact information. Experiment with placement of text, various font sizes, and even using muted graphic design elements in the masthead itself. A good way to get ideas is to perform a Google search for creative resumes. Just make sure to keep it professional.
5. Presentation and Format Issues
More important than the design of your resume is the content. Your information should be organized in a way that puts the most relevant information right in the employer’s face. A bulleted Summary of Skills section in the beginning gives an employer a quick snapshot of your experience. Your list should use action verbs such as designed, enhanced, facilitated, etc. when describing your career skills. In addition, make sure to change any sentences into short active-voice phrases, avoid first-person references, and keep your resume to 1-2 pages maximum.
A revamp of your resume might be a refreshing start to a new career. The current job market is fiercely competitive; give yourself the best chance to move to the next round of consideration by taking the time to send a resume that effectively markets what you are bringing to the table.