How attention-grabbing is your resume? Today’s employers often receive resumes from hundreds of job applicants, and they spend an average of two minutes reviewing each one, according to research commissioned by our firm. The more eye-catching your application materials, the better your chances of landing an interview.
Here are some tips for creating a stand-out resume:
Lose the objective. Listing an objective at the top of a resume is a common practice, but it’s not the best strategy. Your career ambitions aren’t the chief concern for most employers; their primary focus is finding someone capable of doing the job. Instead of listing an objective, provide a specific and highly condensed summary of qualifications and then delve straight in to your work experience.
First things first. Which is most impressive: the names of your former employers or the titles of the positions you held there? Once you’ve made this determination, list the most prestigious items first, but be consistent. If you decide your title carries the most weight, give the title first for each of your past positions.
Emphasize achievements. Perhaps the biggest mistake job hunters make when creating their resumes is listing a litany of duties for each position they’ve held instead of citing their accomplishments. Your actual achievements are far more compelling than your job descriptions. If you’re a web designer, for example, instead of saying, “Redesigned company websites,” you might try the following: “Redesigned four websites, adding animations and interactive features that increased traffic by 20 percent.”
Make it pretty. Appearance counts, so pay attention to the aesthetics of your resume. Use high-quality paper, and strive for a simple but elegant design. One word of caution – unless you’re a designer, don’t be overly “creative” with the layout. It can make you look unprofessional.
Avoid errors. Nothing puts your resume in the “no” pile faster than a typo. Here are some classics our company has collected: “Thanks for reviewing my resume. Hope to hear from you shorty.” And, “Received a plague for salesman of the year.” Ask several close friends and contacts to review your resume before sending it out. They may spot problems your spell-check function did not.
Take the ‘two-minute test.’ Along with having several close friends review your resume, ask one or two contacts who aren’t very familiar with your work history to review the document quickly, just as a prospective employer would. Then ask them for their impressions – what information stands out? What can they recall specifically about you? If they remember the salient points, your job is done. But if key messages don’t come across, go back to the drawing board.
Putting together an outstanding resume isn’t an easy task – the key is to think strategically and continue working on it until you come up with the best product. With perseverance and attention to detail, you’ll receive interview calls in no time.