Since I’m graduating in December, the fact résumés have been on my mind lately is probably not a surprise to you. I’ve been hanging around the career center at my school since freshman year, and after pestering the career counselors enough times with my horrid rough drafts, I think I’m starting to get the hang of this résumé thing. However, I still run my résumés by career counselors, and I’ve noticed these are the items they tend to mention before giving me the green light:
This should be one of the first things you think of when reviewing your résumé: Is everything laid out clearly? I like to put my headlines in bold caps and then just bold my job titles, dates, and companies. Everything else is bulleted. It certainly isn’t as exciting as a graphic design résumé, but it gets the job done.
A lot of the rules with this one are the same that apply to a blog. Is there a lot of white space? Are there words you can cut? (Hint: Don’t be adjective-happy.) How long is your résumé? Some would say that if you’re applying for a fairly entry-level position, don’t let it extend more than one page.
Now remember, you should be tailoring your résumé to each job application. That means your diction should reflect (yes, even repeat) the words you’ve read in the job description. HR, or whoever is processing your résumé, often scans your résumé for the words they put in the job description. They do this not only to see if you’ve been paying attention (so read that description carefully), but also it’s a way to make sure you aren’t wasting their time. If your résumé is totally devoid of the buzz words in their job description, what makes you think they’ll look twice at your application?
This may sound like you’re back in composition class, but yes, strong action verbs do matter. Why start a bullet point with “helped” or “was” when you could lead off with “maintained,” “developed,” or “launched”? And if you can use some of those buzz words for your action verbs, then even better.
This may sound “Well, no duh,” but I’ve found when reviewing my résumé, especially if I’m doing several at a time, I will occasionally add an extra number in my phone number or even misspell my email address. We sometimes focus too much on our “new” information that we forget to check our repeat work. But as I’ve found out, it never hurts to look again.
It doesn’t matter if you’re applying for an editorial or an engineering job. No mistakes. ‘Nuff said.
What’s your checklist before sending off your résumé?