Well, resumes can be the first impression a potential employer receives of you and it is your chance to market yourself! Self-branding is extremely important in your career; think about what you want to do, what your long and short term goals are, and who you want to be as a career women or man.
Resumes can be tricky. It is hard to know what to include and what not to include. You may also struggle with making your minimum wage job sound like the best learning experience in the universe. And many people struggle with knowing where to start when creating a resume.
That's what I'm here for! I am going to run down my top tips on creating a simple resume and how to make it stand out and shape your personal brand.
We'll start with a simple list of what to include and what not to include.
- Make sure to include:
- Education level: You worked hard to get into college and/or grad school and you want to make sure to include that hard work is on your resume. If high school is the highest level you completed, you'll at least want to state that you have your GED or high school diploma.
- Your correct contact information: Be sure to include a current address, phone number, and email address that your possible employer may contact you at.
- Keywords: Because employers receive so many resumes, many large companies will use something called a parser. Basically they send your resume through a scanner and look for keywords, allowing the "best" applicants to rise to the surface. Applicant tracking systems are becoming more and more advanced and have become a staple at many companies. An easy way to make sure to include keywords is by seeing which keywords are repeated in the job description and using relevant terms from the industry.
- Accomplishments, not just duties: Instead of simply listing the duties you performed, make sure to include accomplishments and goals achieved to support why they are important enough to be listed on your resume. Instead of saying "Sold medical equipment" say "increased sales of medical equipment by 11% from 2011-2012"
- A custom file name: Simply saving it as "resume" and sending it over will allow your resume to get lost in a sea of job applicants. My recommended format is Lastname_Firstname_TitleofCompany. This shows them that you took the time to customize the resume to fit their company and will also allow them an easy reference point of who's resume they are looking at.
- Bullet points and organization: Organize your resume in a way that fits the career best and that is easy to understand for any one looking at it. Use bullet points, white space, and lines to help aid in the organization and spruce up your resume at the same time.
- Make sure not to include:
- Your picture: This is a debated topic, but it my opinion, you want to avoid having a picture so the potential employer cannot make a judgement about you before even reading your resume.
- Your age: This goes along with the photo-why would you want to give your potential employer a reason to pre-judge you?
- Your objective: This is also debated. Many will say you need to include your objective to ensure that the employer knows your long term career goals. But let's be honest, the objective of turning in a resume is to get the job you are applying for, so why do you need to state that on the resume? A more appropriate place for this is in the cover letter attached to your resume.
- Spelling errors: The wrong use of a verb, spelling errors, missed commas, and any other grammatical errors you can think of will be a huge turnoff for potential employers. If you cannot take the time to check for spelling errors as an applicant, what makes them think you will do a quality job as a new hire? 45% of executives said they threw away a resume after just one typo; 31% said they discard them after two
- The award that you won for the spelling bee while you were in fifth grade: Yes this is oddly specific, but what I'm hinting to is that you should include only relevant, timely, and important information on your resume. Employers already spend so little time on your resume, why fill it up with information that they won't care about?
Having a solid base for your resume will help you create your personal brand piece by piece. Yes resumes need to be professional, but it doesn't mean it can't have some sort of personality! As you have more jobs that help you grow in your field, you'll see your personal brand develop right in front of you.
Two side notes: All resumes should also come with a custom-crafted cover letter in an appropriate format that outlines basically why you should get the job that you applied for. Resumes should also be an appropriate length-I recommend a one page resume with a reference to visit your LinkedIn profile to see the full resume.
What tips would you give a person that is new to applying to jobs? What has worked well for you in the past?
Good luck to all of those career seekers out there! With the right resume, you can get your foot in the door of that dream job.
"If you call failures experiments, you can put them on your resume and claim them as achievements" ~Mason Cooley