Looking for a new job requires patience, determination and a resume that stands out. Resume writing has a lot of dos and don’t associated with it, and our clients often say they are unsure what these unwritten rules are (and they fear they will break them).
Here are some simple tips to help you improve the quality of your resume.
1. Keep the content relevant
Make sure that your resume is precise, and contains information that relates to the position you are applying for. For example, if you have a sales and marketing background and you’re applying for a sales role, focus on your sales-related achievements and skills.
Improve your chances of getting a call for an interview by clearly conveying the information a recruiter or hiring manager needs to know (e.g. include that you have “must have” requirements such as leading a sales team for five years and knowledge of Salesforce) on the first page of your resume.
2. Use an active voice
Write your resume in active voice by using power words such as earned, achieved and completed to highlight your achievements and accomplishments. Watch your verb tenses. For your current position, use the present tense (i.e. achieve instead of achieved).
3. Highlight key achievements
Yes, you need to sell yourself in a competitive situation! Potential employers expect you to list your accomplishments to help you (and not your competitor) get a call for an interview.
4. Use subheadings
Help the person reading your resume by using white space, and breaking it into sections.Print your document and read it. If you have trouble finding important information, such as your current job title, you may need to adjust your formatting.
Did you know that spelling and grammar errors are the quickest way for an employer or hiring manager to discard your resume? To avoid this pitfall, print your resume (it’s much harder to see errors on a screen), read it twice and ask someone with a critical set of eyes to review it, too.
6. Use a header
Include a header using a font that is easy to see and read at the top of your resume with the following information:
- Telephone number
- Email address
- LinkedIn URL
Taking the time to include this information makes it much easier for recruiters and hiring managers to contact you. We also recommend adding a footer with page numbers if your resume has multiple pages.
7. Include a cover letter
Simply stated, most employers expect to see a cover letter along with a resume. It’s an opportunity for them to evaluate a candidate’s written communication skills. Earlier this year, a client came to us frantically asking for help with a cover letter because an employer was interested in interviewing him, but he needed to follow up with a cover letter within 48 hours. Yes, cover letters really do make a difference!
8. Your resume can be longer than a page
The “one page resume myth” simply isn’t true! Recruiters and hiring managers look for clear, concise resumes tailored to job postings to shortlist candidates. If your current resume is eight pages, it’s likely too long. If you’re unsure how long your resume should be, one of our professional writers can provide guidance.
9. Use an appropriate font
To make a good first impression, use a professional font, and make the document formatting easy to follow. Arial, Garamond, Times New Roman or Calibri are easy to read; we also recommend using a font size that is easy to read (i.e. between 10 to 12). Keep your colour scheme simple, and avoid using fonts that are challenging to read (e.g. Comic Sans or Papyrus).
10. Look for keywords in the job descriptions
Employers often use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to filter the countless applications they receive to shortlist candidates for interviews. To make it to the short-listed group of candidates, you’ll need to toot your own horn!
Carefully read the job description several times to determine the necessary skills and qualifications you need to put on the first page of your resume before submitting your application. If you’re unsure where to start, look at the summary of the position and the “requirements” or “qualifications” sections to guide you. Recognizing and weaving keywords into your resume is a skill we can teach you if you decide to work with us.
We hope that you find these 10 tips helpful the next time you need to update your resume. If you are currently looking for a new position (or a promotion), and would like some feedback on your resume, call us at 416-562-0328 to book a free discovery call.