Wednesday, February 26, 2014

5 tips for creating the perfect resume

I recently shared a podcast here on the blog, where I answered some of the resume questions we field every day in our Career Development Services office. We covered many topics, from comparing traditional and functional resumes to discussing whether an objective is necessary in many professions today.

We wanted to share a few key takeaways from our conversation for those who weren't able to listen in. Job seekers should keep these tips in mind when constructing an effective resume.

  1. Keep your resume consistent and relevant to the position. Competition in the job market is tough, so it’s important that the skills you place on your resume are relevant to the job that you’re applying to. Research the requirements of the job you have in mind, and list any skills or specializations you have. If you’re changing industries, include transferable skills that will relate to your new field, such as your knowledge of administrative tasks or your ability to manage people.
  2. Triple check your spelling, grammar, and formatting. Your resume is your first impression, and employers are apt to throw it out if it has any spelling, grammar, or formatting errors. Pay special attention to detail -- don’t use different fonts or too many abbreviations. Because most of today’s communication is electronic, employers want to see someone that’s able to write and communicate effectively. 
  3. Prioritize relevancy over length: While choosing which experiences and credentials should be included in your resume, any experience that is relevant to the position you’re applying to should be highlighted. If that requires two pages to do, that’s okay! At the same time, if you are worried about your resume being too short, don’t add irrelevant information just to take up space.      
  4. Use a summary of qualifications rather than an objective. Objectives used to be commonplace, but employers now prefer something called a summary of qualifications. It gives your resume a focal point by listing three to four bullet points that describe your skills and experience at the top of the page. You could also write it in paragraph form in three to four sentences. Just make sure that it’s clear, concise, and has no personal pronouns. 
  5. Consider whether you want to use a chronological or functional resume. If you've had a steady work history, we recommend a traditional chronological resume. But if you've been out of work for some time, we recommend creating a functional resume. A functional resume is a skills-based resume where you don’t highlight your employment dates and instead show skills, such as managerial skills, customer service skills, technology skills, etc. However, some employers may question a functional resume because they think that you’re trying to hide something. If you choose to use a functional resume, be prepared with a clear, concise answer as to why you chose to structure it that way. 

We hope that gave you some more insight into creating the perfect resume. Do you have any more resume questions? Feel free to ask in a comment below.