You never have a second chance to make a first impression, and your resume is the first impression that hiring managers will see. This document truly needs to be flawless, and while we can craft a job-winning resume for you, if you write your own, following our helpful resume hacks.
1. Read It Out Loud
This might sound like a weird tip, but it’s a great way to see if your resume is both easy-to-read and error-free. Obviously, you should edit your resume and also have at least one other person read over your resume to check for errors. Using a spellcheck program is never enough and one single spelling error can kill your chances of getting an interview.
Still, the human eye often overlooks careless spelling and grammar errors, so it doesn’t hurt to actually read the document out loud. You might just catch that one tiny error that could make or break your chances. Read your cover letter out loud, as well, not only to check for errors but to gauge whether or not it flows well and compels the reader to keep skimming the page. This is one of those resume hacks that people rarely think about, but it truly can help you eliminate errors.
2. Eliminate Anything Unprofessional
There are so many little things that people forget about when creating their resume, especially those either just entering the workforce and those with just a couple of years of professional experience.
The Quirky Email
Let’s talk about email addresses. Your email address should be a basic business-appropriate email such as JohnLSmith@gmail. Using an email address such as PizzaBoy19@yahoo or BikiniBeachGirl@hotmail are very unprofessional. You need an email address that is simply your name or perhaps your first two initials and last name. Keep it simple.
Your Resume Name
When you name your resume document, this also should feature a professional title, such as John L Smith Resume. After all if you email this resume to a hiring manager or recruiter, they will see the title of the document so it’s crucial that your name is the title.
The Fun Design
Unless you are seeking a position as a graphic designer or artist of some type, your resume should just feature a basic, no-nonsense design. You definitely need to concentrate your efforts on writing great resume content and not worry so much about design. Typically, we recommend keeping the resume black and white, as well, although the judicious use of a single color might fine as long as it doesn’t distract from your message.
Unique Job Titles & Descriptions
We have reviewed far too many resumes where the client listed themselves as a “guru” of some type or another or perhaps, they call themselves a “ninja,” or “Jedi.” Halloween-costumes aside, no one is really a ninja or Jedi, and while you might be an expert in your field, resist the urge to call yourself a guru. It’s tacky and, frankly, a bit self-involved.
Not only do these quirky titles not provide a hiring manager with a proper job title, these words are not going to be understood by applicant-tracking software. Robots do not understand the nuances of the English language, and most resumes are run through software, so be careful how you word things in your resume.
3. Unload The Unnecessary
A good resume rarely will extend beyond a single page. In some cases, a person with a great deal of professional experience, particularly those seeking very high level executive positions, might have a two-page resume, but the rest of us should not. To ensure that you have enough space for what’s really important, eliminate the following:
- Your high school education (only relevant for recent college or high school grads)
- Your teenage work experiences (again only relevant for entry-level and it’s better to list internship experiences if you have them)
- Your photograph (never appropriate on American resumes)
- Your birthdate (employers in the U.S. cannot ask your age, so leave it out)
- Your marital & family status (again, U.S. employers cannot ask about these items)
- References Upon Request (delete this line, it’s obvious and not helpful to your cause)
Eliminating these items can help you save room for you to flesh out more important sections such as Work Experiences and Skills.
4. Add Some Hobbies
Here’s one of those resume hacks that’s actually fun to do. These days, more and more hiring managers like to learn a little bit about your personality as well as your skills. It’s crucial to find employees that can do the work, for sure, but it’s also crucial to have people who will fit the company culture.
A list with three or four hobbies or interests is sufficient, but make sure that these hobbies showcase your personality to its best advantage. For instance, your commitment to extreme political causes (or pretty much any political cause) is probably best left off a resume.
On the flip side, if you volunteer at an animal shelter, a food bank or perhaps work with a group such as Habitat for Humanity, this makes you look like a caring individual. Hobbies such as marathon running or long-distance hiking show that you work hard to fulfill your personal goals. Hobbies such as chess showcase your ability to think analytically, while hobbies such as gourmet cooking, travel blogging and photography showcase your creativity.
. Research Job Postings & Customize
Before you start writing a resume, you need to do some research about the available jobs in your field. Once you find a few interesting job opportunities, read these listings carefully and highlight some of the keywords the hiring team uses in these “help-wanted” ads.
These keywords are the specific items a hiring manager or applicant tracking software might search for when perusing through hundreds of resumes. If your resume contains these keywords, you are more likely to attract some notice.
These keywords might include specific skills or certifications as well as types of experience and specific work titles. Each resume you send out can and should be personalized to a specific job listing.
If you notice that the jobs you want require skills you don’t have, consider acquiring those skills. Employers want people who can hit the ground running and if your job requires a certain software skills or level of competency that you don’t possess, start learning.
You can even highlight this during the interview process as a strength. You can explain that you noticed that employers needed employees that could handle this specific task, so you took classes or training to become proficient. This shows that you make an effort to grow and learn and become a more valuable employee.
6. Prepare For The Robots
As we stated before in this article, most resumes are run through applicant-tracking software. This means it’s crucial that you use the same terminology and skills listed in the job posting, provided you actually possess those skills.
But that’s not all you need to do. When you submit a resume online, it is crucial that you use a basic resume format. A quirky design with odd margins is not something that software can understand. Use standard fonts such as Times New Roman, Georgia or Calibri and don’t play around the with fonts and make them all caps or small caps. Just use bold and italic options when you want to differentiate areas on the resume. Also, keep it black and white for these online postings. Don’t give those robots any chance to eliminate your job possibilities.
Keep in mind, you certainly can design a more attractive and interesting resume. This “prettier” resume can simply be the one you actually hand out at industry events, job interviews or other occasions when you physically hand a copy of your resume to someone.
7. Share Your Accomplishments
Hiring managers truly want a picture of what you can accomplish as an employee. While listing awards can be a great idea, you also should highlight anytime something you did provided concrete benefits for your employer.
For instance, if you designed an inventory management system that decreased costs by 50%, list it on your resume. If you exceed sales goals by 25% every year, list that accomplishment. Any time you’ve saved money or time or increased profitability for a company should be listed on your resume. It might sound like bragging, but with a resume it’s truly an opportunity for you to showcase your capabilities.
While all of these resume hacks are helpful, sometimes it’s still a bit daunting to write your own resume or cover letter. If you need some help, the experienced writers at Resume Writing Group are here to help. And, our writing is guaranteed. If you use our resume and follow our advice, but aren’t hired in 45 days or less, we’ll refund the cost of your resume!