Keep in mind that your resume is a marketing tool. You want your resume to showcase your skills and abilities, plus assure the employer that you are the right fit for the job opening.
The three most basic resume rules from resume experts include:
1) Keep your resume to one page and make it easy to read.
2) Do not use a template that you find on-line – open Microsoft Word and start typing.
3) Use the key words of the industry that you plan to be working in to describe your skills and abilities….your resume should literally reflect the job opening or posting that you are planning to respond to.
If you are like me, you want to know why these resume rules need to be followed.
Those that review resumes tell us that they have little time to devote to reviewing resumes. Most are trained to review each resume within 6-20 seconds, placing each resume in a “Qualified” or “Not Qualified” destination (on line or physically on a pile on their desk). They are basically sorting all those who applied.
You want your resume to land on the “Qualified” pile. In order for that to happen, the reviewer must be able to see at a glance that you meet the qualifications they laid out in the job posting. This is the reason why a “Summary of Qualifications” has become so popular in recent years. This summary of qualifications needs to be just that…..a Summary of Qualifications. That means this section on your resume should include bullet points about your education, your experience AND your strengths. Make your Summary of Qualifications a well rounded one that includes the main points about your skills and abilities as they match the job posting or what the employer is looking for.
If your resume is too wordy it won’t get read. If the reviewer cannot find the information they are looking for quickly, you will end up in the “Not Qualified” or the “Maybe” pile. You can bet they never look at that “Maybe” pile unless they do not have enough “Qualified” persons.
There are two reasons that we discourage the use of templates for your resume:
#1) Most templates do not let you re-arrange the information later if need be. When it is time to update your resume, it won’t let you, and you will end up typing the entire thing all over again. Using Microsoft Office allows you to cut, copy and paste all you want.
#2) Most templates put your headings in color, then when the employer prints them out, the headings come out in grey-scale. Employers generally do not print resumes in color. You want your headings to be BOLD and to stand out.
And our last bit of advice. Use the key words of your industry to describe your skills and abilities so that you “match” their job opening. The best way you can learn the key words of your industry is to work in the field and/or read a lot of job postings and job descriptions. It is a matter of gaining experience, just like anything else that you learn.
And remember, if you need help with any of this, there are experts out there. Career Services staff at the various colleges, and professionals in your local Job Centers. Find help if you need it.
Author: Chris Magnuson, Career Services at Western Technical College