A large aspect of personal finance is having a paying job so that you have income (have to invest with something). Without a decent resume an individual’s job prospects can suffer. Recently a lot of resume have been coming my way. As someone who has had his resume looked over by a lot of people and has seen a lot of resumes I’ve concluded a lot of people could do with a bit of resume help. The following are a few suggestions to ensure your resume gets to the top of the stack.
There are a few assumptions I make when making these suggestions. You can check out the bottom of the text to see if you are an exception to some of the suggestions.
- Incorrect grammar or misspelled words is a resume death sentence.
- Have a logical flow to the resume.
- Keep the resume length to one page.
- A mission statement is not necessary on the resume.
- Be prepared to explain anything written on the resume.
- Use action verbs instead of passive verbs.
- Quantify statements and accomplishments.
- Fit the resume to the position applied to.
- Add some interesting flavor.
- Formatting can be difficult.
1.Incorrect Grammar or Misspelled Words is a Resume Death Sentence.
Imagine you have an in-person interview with a company. Now imagine you show up in your underwear and expect to be taking seriously. This is very close to the impression made when your resume has an obvious typo or is poorly written. Namely it makes you as a candidate hard to take seriously and will ensure your resume ends up in the recycling bin.
2. Decide on the Order of Your Resume.
A resume is like a good story with you being the main character. It should flow in some logical order and describe where you’ve been (your prior experiences) and hint at what direction you are wanting to travel. The most common ways to organize your resume are by chronological order (e.g. the most recent jobs and experience appear earlier on the resume) or by relevancy (the most relevant experiences appear first).
3. Keep it To One Page.*
A resume is to be short and sweet. Most hiring professionals would quietly chuckle at a twenty-one year old with a two page resume. The point here is not to discredit what you have accomplished as a person (No, it’s great that you were the treasurer of that club in college). The point here is that the HR professional reading resumes only has so much time. Therefore it is your job to make a resume that is succinct and effective.
4. A Mission Statement is Generally Not Necessary.
Mission statements always have seemed pretty silly to me. Why tell a company “I am applying to the position of XYZ” on your resume? By submitting the resume it is self-evident what you are trying to accomplish. If you feel you want to expound on why you are applying, write a cover letter. Having a mission statement on your resume only occupies valuable space on a paper that should be only one page in length. Wasted space equals less lines about yourself to wow the reader.
5. If It’s on your Resume, It’s Fair Game.
I’ve heard horror stories of a candidate writing that he had “proficient Spanish speaking ability” on his resume only to have the interviewer come into the room and attempt to conduct the entire interview in Spanish. The candidate did not get the job. The message here is not to exaggerate your abilities and accomplishments. If something is written on the resume, the interviewer has every right to ask for more detail about it. Your resume is your story; know your story.
6. The Importance of Imagery: Action Verbs.
Which of the following appeals to you more: 1. The boy went to the school. 2. The boy triumphantly marched to the school. I would venture to say that the later example paints a more vivid picture in your mind. Apply this logic to your resume. Avoid “passive verbs” such as “went” “did”, “was”, “is”, etc. Instead use action verbs at the beginning of sentences to create a clearer picture for the reader the action you were performing. Ex. “Processed invoices”, “Calculated valuations”, or “Formulated solutions”.
7. Quantify if Possible.
Did an idea you suggested save the company money or generate more revenue for the company? How much? If you told me it “saved the company money” technically you could have saved the company $1 and that would be a valid statement. Here lies the importance of quantifying. The best things about quantifying amounts is that the numbers speak for themselves. If you brought in 100 new clients or cut costs by 20%, no one can argue with the objective numbers. Though the numbers may speak for themselves be prepared to explain how you accomplished a feat you have written. (Remember if it’s on the resume, it’s fair game).
8. Fit Your Resume to the Job Applied To.
Depending on the job you apply to it may be necessary to slightly adjust a few details on the resume. This is not to say you should be rewriting your resume for each job you apply to. This is saying you may want to move around a few experiences to highlight the more important details. For example if applying to a role in which customer relations is vital, make sure one of the first things on your resume is customer intensive.
9. Make It Interesting!
This is a commonly overlooked suggestion. Remember how I keep mentioning how your resume is your story? Would you want to read a boring story with a boring character? I wouldn’t imagine so. Include an area on the resume related to your interests. Have you done charity work? Traveled to different countries? These things add depth to you as a candidate. Be careful not to include accomplishments or skills that may put you in a negative light. (No, for God’s sake do not put that you can belch the alphabet or partied with LMFAO In Los Angeles).
10. Formatting is the Bane of Many.**
From seeing over 100+ resumes the most common issue I see is actually not content related, but format related. This point actually is composed of a few mini points:
- Use a “tame font” with a font size no less than 11. Times New Roman and Georgia are examples of classy, professional fonts.
- Set the margins of the page to 1” each. The margins should be no less.
- Divide the content into relevant sub-areas (Education, Work Experience, Skills, etc.)
- Separate the sub-areas with one line of white space to
- Keep everything left aligned. Your resume should allow a reader to “scan” going top to bottom.
- Create a “header area” that should display your contact information and name in the top center or top left of the resume. It should be slightly larger than the rest of the information on the page (You want the hiring professional to remember your name, so make it noticeable but not obnoxious).
You’ve read all the way through! Congratulations! I feel you are deserving of a prize. Below is a picture of a pre-formatted word document for a resume. All you have to do is click the drop box link, download the file (it’s in Word .docx format), and fill out the relevant fields with your information. You now have a job submission ready resume.
Note that this is a business field related template but can easily be adjusted to fit many types of entry jobs.
*This is assuming you are applying to entry jobs or have no more than 10 years experience working. If you are in your mid-30s and have a large number of experiences and accomplishments, by all means go to two pages. For most people, though, one page suffices.
**These formatting pointers may not apply to marketing or creative content positions as in these instances your resume itself must be a reflection of your creative ability.