What’s the first thing your potential employer looks at when you apply for a job? Your resumé, of course. When it comes to making that first pre-interview impression, few things are more important than a top-of-the-line resumé. Good is not enough, neither is great. That resumé has to sparkle. You have to put yourself a notch above every other candidate who has applied for that coveted post you’ve been craving for. Here are 20 concrete resumé tips to land yourself that fantasy job in no time:
Over the last few years you would have likely worked in several internships, organized events and been part of multiple college clubs. Perhaps you learned another language or won a medal in an inter-city sports tournament. All of these facts, while laudable, may not be relevant to the person hiring you.
It’s possible that the HR manager who’s looking at your resumé will toss it aside within 30 seconds. So the information it packs needs to be relevant to that particular job.
Make sure the resumé lists all of your skills (the ones required for the job). Also, be sure to include how each skill is useful at this job. Eg. Intermediate Java Skills, which would be great when coding for Android apps.
People tend to write the most obvious and unnecessary statements on their resumés. Eg. Willing to come for an interview. This is expected from every applicant; it need not be written explicitly.
Unless the employer specifically asks for a photograph, avoid using one. How a person looks is not connected to how they will perform in a job. Another reason is that some companies use software to scan resumés for keywords – a picture can cause errors in reading.
The ideal font size is 10-11. Please stick to simple fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, etc. Overly fancy Victorian era fonts will not be appreciated by employers – they’re rather difficult to read.
Some employers prefer PDF files, while others will only accept resumés in MS Word. Although PDFs are more secure and look exactly the same on every computer, some employers use ATS software that finds it harder to read PDF files. On the other hand, some employers have old versions of MS Word that may not read the latest formats properly. So be sure of what format your employer prefers before you send in your resumé.
It’s rare for organizations to ask for a printed copy of your resumé these days. If they do, be sure to provide a laser print on a high GSM paper (120 GSM should be adequate).
As a fresher or someone early in their career, you will find that 1-2 pages are more than enough to fill in all your education, skills and experience. If the resumé exceeds two pages, it’s likely that some of the information is not relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Some degree of exaggeration might land you an interview, but your shortfalls will soon become apparent when you begin work (or during the interview itself). It would be wise to avoid any hyperboles or outright lies. Organizations take these very seriously. In addition to losing your job, it could get you blacklisted and also ruin your reputation in the local job market.
Every job has different requirements, even within the same industry. Make sure you tailor your resumé to suit each job. Try to figure out exactly what skills and qualities each company is looking for.
For example: let’s say you are a hardware engineer. Cellular Inc. is looking for someone who designs hardware for cellular towers while HardwareX Ltd. is looking for an employee who can help with designing Wi-Fi routers. If you’re good with both, build a separate resumé for each company. Stress on your cellular-related experience for Cellular Inc., and mention more of your Wi-Fi knowledge for HardwareX Ltd.
Use white space productively in your resumé layout. There are great layouts available online, and most word processors have downloadable layouts too. Do take a look at multiple resumé examples online before you proceed.
The sheer number of spelling and grammar errors on some resumés are an instant turnoff for any employer. No matter what skills you have, it’s best to send in a resumé free of errors. Plugins like Grammarly can be of great help here!
When the limit is two pages, it serves you best to keep your sentences short and sweet. However, don’t compromise on the amount of information each sentence contains.
Eg. ‘Developed and maintained relationships with high value customers’
is better than
‘Developed a relationship with customers who placed many large orders and then maintained those relationships.’
Both sentences contain the same information, but the first one is shorter and simpler to read.
Although we use ‘I’ frequently in our day-to-day conversations, it is best to leave ‘I’ out of resumés. This document is always about one person – ‘I’ becomes redundant.
Eg. ‘Worked as a marketing intern at a startup’
Is better on a resumé than
‘I worked as a marketing intern at a startup’
Many people list their soft skills on their resumé. However, it is not advisable to list generic skills such as communication and teamwork as these are expected by default. If you do wish to list soft skills, please use less common ones.
Freshers generally don’t have too much experience to list on their resumés. Even if you have only a couple of summer internships to speak or a few years, that’s perfectly okay. Employers who are hiring graduates are generally not looking for much experience.
To avoid age discrimination by employers, don’t mention your age! Some employers may be looking for a specific age group to do a particular job, even if it is not the most ethical thing to do. They may reject your application simply by looking at your age and never call you for an interview.
Be sure to list all your relevant achievements and back them up with numbers.
Eg. Won 3 subject awards for scoring the highest marks in my batch.
Don’t just go ahead and blindly list every achievement from your entire life. If you’re 27 and applying to be an iOS app developer somewhere, there is no use boasting about the Karate certificate you got in 8th grade.
It’s hard to imagine why an employer would be interested in which rapper you listen to every morning in the metro, or what ice cream is your favourite.
There’s a correct way to list your interests in your resumé. Make sure the interests are relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying to be a graphic designer, you could list interests such as ‘blog about graphic design on weekends’.
Some people write ‘Expected Salary: Rs. X’ at the end of their resumé. Please avoid this, as your employer will talk about pay during your interview. Also, you don’t have to reveal your previous job’s salary unless the employer specifically asks you to.
What other resumé tips do you have? Do write in to me on firstname.lastname@example.org!
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