Your resume reaches the hiring manager long before you ever get to dazzle him with your professional wardrobe, confident handshake and well-rehearsed responses, so you must rely on it to make an impeccable first impression. Don't let HR put your application in the reject pile — follow these six rules to make sure your resume works for you.
1. Make Your Objective Meaningful
Don't let the objective line on your resume be an afterthought, and avoid cliché phrases. Rather than simply stating what you hope to accomplish in your career, use this space to demonstrate what you can offer the employer. Instead of writing, "To find a challenging position in the marketing industry," type, "To help XYZ Company increase sales with my modern approach to advertising."
2. Customize Every Entry
Tailor every resume and cover letter you mail out to the specific employer and position. Pull keywords from the job description, and demonstrate how your skills and experience can help move the organization forward.
3. Keep It Short
Try to limit your resume to one page in length, especially when seeking an entry- or mid-level position. If you have a great deal of skills and experience that are relevant to the industry and position, stretch it to two pages. Conserve space by listing recommendations and references on a separate document.
4. Avoid Fancy Formatting
Don't clutter your resume with fancy fonts, unusual text sizes or alarming colors. The document should be simple, clean, professional, and easy for the hiring manager to read or an applicant tracking system to scan. Stick with left alignment, and avoid italicizing text. Make sure bullets are lined up and headings are consistent.
5. Stick to the Truth
Never lie on your resume. Even exaggerations can come back to bite you. Include only job duties that you actually performed, make sure all listed dates are accurate, and be honest about your reason for leaving a previous employer. Hiring organizations typically perform background checks and talk to references, and an uncovered falsehood could cost you the job or damage your reputation in the industry.
6. Do Plenty of Proofreading
Before you send out your resume, make sure you read it several times. Look for spelling errors, missing punctuation or grammatical slip-ups. Then ask a trusted friend or colleague to read over the document to get a fresh perspective on what you've written.
A job search can stall for a variety of reasons. If you're going to job interviews with no call backs, brush up on your interview skills. However, if you're not even making it to the interview, it's likely your resume that needs some work. These six rules can help get this vital document in top shape.
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