So, you’ve made it through the sometimes difficult process of creating and using your first resume. You’ve maybe even had some success with it. This doesn’t ever mean that you forget about your resume. It is always very important to keep your resume as current as you can. This is especially important if you are applying for an advanced position at your current job. An updated resume that has been enhanced with your accomplishments since you’ve been with the company will give you an edge on your competition.
Is there any way you could make your resume look different, more fresh? Here are some ideas that you could consider:
- Take a minute to research some different resume templates. Is there one that may fit you a little bit better? Something that looks more interesting or appealing visually?
- Font – What font did you use on your first resume? Is there a font that might make your resume stand out a little more? Be careful, though, when choosing a font; you want to make sure it is clear, easy to read, and professional looking. That doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. Find the correct balance between expressing your personality and professionalism. You don’t want the potential employer to become distracted from the information you have listed on your resume.
Phrasing and Keywords
The way you word things in your resume can make all the difference in the way you appear to potential employers. This is something that should not be overlooked when you are working on your resume. Don’t feel like you have to be stuck using complete sentences. You can use a sort of cross between sentences and a list. You want to highlight your skills with positive keywords. Make sure the way you phrase things is clear and interesting.
- Don’t get caught in the trap of being general. Make sure you are very clear and descriptive when you are describing your experience and skills. Be precise. This will set you apart from other candidates who have over-generalized themselves. Example: if you listed as a job duty—“ordering supplies”, consider, instead, saying “I oversee the inventory and purchasing for a staff of 30+ people”. This gives a more accurate description of what it is you actually do. You could go further by saying, “I research, and then negotiate with multiple office supply vendors to purchase departmental supplies, then train other department co-workers in using these same techniques.” Emphasizing what it is that you actually do in a positive light will help you stand out amongst other candidates.
- Don’t be generic – Especially when you are describing your skill-set. Avoid phrases such as, “I am a motivated sales person.” Consider saying “In the 4th quarter of last year, I was able to increase my sales by 30%.” This appears much more tangible than a generic phrase. It shows action.
- Every industry has its own language and catch-phrases. Make sure you know what those phrases are in your own industry so that you can use them in your resume. This will give you more credibility to potential employers. If you can use phrasing in your resume that the company has used in their job description, you will appear as a very good match for them.
- If you are submitting your resume to an online job board, many times potential employers use search engines to seek out specific keywords. Don’t just overload your resume with these keywords. Make sure you use them in a way that flows, and in a way in which they highlight your positive characteristics.
Make sure you have added any new training or experience you have received in the field in which you are working. Because you have probably become more familiar with the field, you may have new things to add that didn’t seem applicable before. Still, be sure to make all information useful and relevant.
- Begin with the things that have happened most recently, such as your current job title and experience.
- As part of your current job, have you received any special training or development? Use anything applicable: certifications, college classes, continuing education classes, professional conferences, etc.
- Have you had the opportunity to give training at any point in your professional career? These “trainings” can include marketing sales pitches, conference training, webinars, specific product training, staff training, and a wide variety of other things. Public speaking, and the ability to train others are very desirable skills to have and highlight.
- Have you had anything published during your career? This could include research, white papers, magazine articles, policy manuals, chapter books, or a variety of other things. Don’t miss the chance to show-case your own work.
- Have you created any products that would be beneficial in your field, such as a software program or better work-flow procedures?
- Since you last updated your resume, have you added any supervisory experience? The ability to manage individuals in a highly functional, productive way, is a very valuable asset to add to any organization. Don’t forget to list this experience, if you have any.
Targeting an Audience
Someone who is skilled at job seeking will tailor each and every resume they submit to the company to which they are applying. This is much more effective than blanketing online job boards with generic resumes. Maintain one updated version of your resume that can be individualized to specific companies and fields.
- When you are applying for a job, read the job description very thoroughly. Make sure your resume answers each and every requirement with a description or phrase that shows that you’re suitable for the position or company.
- Though cover letters are very important, your resume should be able to stand up on its own, because cover letters don’t always make it into interview rooms. Make sure you have highlighted somewhere in your resume anything that you have highlighted in your cover letter.
- Save all of the different variations you create of your resume. Even though you want to be specific to every job, having a good resume base in a particular field could save you a lot of time in the future.
Last, but not least, let’s talk more specifically about cover letters. In a lot of cases, your cover letter is just as important to a potential employer as your resume itself. Sometimes it is even more important. If a company has seen an overwhelming response to a particular job they have posted, they oftentimes screen individuals through their cover letters. Again, do not be generic. Cover letters need to be approached with much thought and care. This is your chance to sell yourself to the company. Use a specific greeting, business letter format, and have updated contact information for yourself. If you happen to have the name of the individual over the hiring process, use it in your greeting. It shows that you have done your research, which automatically makes you more appealing. Remember that the company is only interested in hiring the person that is going to be the greatest asset to them in building their company. Focus on things that help them see how you will be a help to them, instead of telling them why you need the job. Don’t come across as desperate or needy. Appear very confident in the things you have to offer them.