Mon 31 Oct 2011
Unemployment is up, few companies are hiring, and every open position now has dozens of qualified applicants. There’s no question about it: getting work is a tough and competitive undertaking these days. With this in mind, we obviously want perfection out of every element of our application for a given job. We want the best and most applicable work experience. We wish we went to a prestigious college and held several graduate degrees. And we always want to be smoother, more knowledgeable, and more confident in interviews.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to improve your education and work background overnight. But it is possible to insure that the more concrete elements of your application – your cover letter and resume – are as flawless as possible. There’s no excuse for submitting a poorly constructed resume, but many people do. Here are some tips for making your resume the best advertisement of you possible:
Make It Clear and Concise
Unless you’re applying for a job in art or graphic design, no employer wants an overly creative or cluttered resume. Find a basic resume template to use and then insert your information in as succinct a manner as possible. If a past job doesn’t require three bullet points of explanation, don’t force in a third. If your computer proficiency is limited to Microsoft Word and Excel, don’t list them. Also make sure not to include an “Objective” section; this practice lost favor years ago. This is also a good place to cut out elements that don’t relate to the job you seek. If you’re looking for construction jobs, work experience may be more important than education and honors received. If you seek healthcare jobs, your research background may be more important to highlight.
Highlight Your Strengths
Although all resumes have similar forms, sending out a “generic” resume won’t work in today’s competitive marketplace. To get notices, you must tailor your resume to match each job you’re applying for. Highlight your strengths and the specific experience you have that is most applicable for the job you seek. If you’ve done similar work before, provide more details about those jobs and cut out some others. If you have limited experience in the field, focus on showing that the skills you developed in your diverse employment background can be applied to any work situation.
This should go without saying, but all too many people apply for jobs with grammatical and spelling errors in their resumes. For some employers, one typo is reason enough to disregard an application—not because they seek perfect spellers but because they want a worker who has an eye to detail and who takes pride in the work. Proofreading thoroughly and repeatedly is a must to keep your application from the reject pile.
Remember, the purpose of your resume is to get the interview. When you take the time to focus your resume on a specific job, you increase your chances of getting to the next step in the hiring process.