If one of your goals is to land a new job, avoid making the mistake of recycling and dusting off the previous version of your resume by merely adding your most recent work history. In today’s competitive workforce, where many are edging colleagues out—finding ways to excel at landing the job you want can sometimes be the biggest struggle. Be sure to set yourself up for success in landing your dream job by following these steps to make your resume shine and stand out above the rest.
Cut out clichés and keep it short and direct.
When reviewing resumes, reviewers often find several clichés like ‘team player,’ ‘hardworking,’ and ‘self-starter.’ These are just a few vague terms often used. Dale Carnegie said, “Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” Instead of stating “results-driven,” for example, use actual examples that are evidence of how you drove and accomplished specific, stellar results. Recruiters and hiring managers are more interested in specific success stories than non-descriptive, canned language. Be direct and to the point to keep it short to hold the attention of the person reviewing your resume.
Tell your story in two pages.
While this is easier for prospective job candidates new to the workforce because they have less work experience, it is just as important for seasoned, senior professionals with decades of experience. Dale Carnegie’s 14th Human Relations principle, “Get the other person saying, ‘yes, yes,’ immediately,” is more easily accomplished when resumes are refined. Moreover, recruiters are extremely busy, so make it easy for them to see how special you are in a brief manner—no more than two pages total. In these two pages, be sure to highlight relevant skills and experiences, demonstrate results with numbers and metrics, and craft an overall career snapshot. This is not always an easy feat, but information that is to the point will help to check this box.
Close the gaps.
Unexplained gaps are a red flag for recruiters. During periods where there may have been a lag in your career, briefly list activities you may have participated in—such as special projects, volunteering, sabbatical, travel, etc. Dale Carnegie said, “No matter what happens, always be yourself.” Recognizing and addressing gaps shows that you are honest—which appeals to recruiters and hiring managers. There is always something of value that can be added to explain gaps in your resume that may appear, just don’t forget to fill them in!
Write it right, and use proper language to stand out.
Colloquialisms, or popular expressions, are often appropriate for verbal communication at work and home—however, your resume should be professional. Pay attention to your grammar and spelling. Such mistakes tell the recruiter or hiring manager that you are sloppy, careless, or worse yet, don’t know how to speak proper English! Instead of trusting and only relying on Spellcheck, ask a wise and articulate friend to review your resume for any faux pas.
Make it easy to read.
“Arouse in the other person an eager want,” Mr. Carnegie’s 3rd principle, underscores the importance of a resume’s format and flow. A recruiter looks at resumes frequently, sometimes for hours on end. Long blocks of chunky text look more like term papers than professional resumes. You can make your resume visually inviting by using bullets, brief paragraphs, simple fonts, and some bolding to break up sections. The critical success factor at play is scan-ability, e.g., if you are deemed a possible job candidate by a recruiter, they may share your resume with other department-specific parties before scheduling an interview. The easier it is for those eyes to scan your resume, the faster they can hopefully concur that you are a strong candidate.
At the end of the day, be strategic. Your resume isn’t supposed to be nor expected to portray everything you’ve ever done. Keep consistent the formatting you chose to use and maintain editorial consistency throughout your entire resume. Include a variety of experiences, but keep it balanced, and don’t forget to think like an employer!