Writing a resumé effectively is an important skill, and especially in a time where graduate jobs are scarce, everyone is looking for what to do to make their resumé stand out.
First of all, it’s not an arts and crafts project. Usually, employers are not looking for strange bells and whistles on a resumé. What they are looking for is a clean, crisp to-the-point resumé that highlights what you can bring to their company. Using glitter borders and smiley face bullets are not going to give you the edge that you think it will.
Secondly, be sure to edit your resumé. There are horror stories of people submitting resumés without deleting someone else’s editing including comments such as “I don’t think you want to include this” or people misspelling the word proofreading under skills and abilities. Editing your resumé shows, through action, a strong attention to detail and at a professional level, this is not optional.
Many employers would instantly discount a resumé with spelling or grammatical errors, or even formatting errors, especially if there are many qualified applicants for the same position.
Next, if you don’t already have one, create a professional sounding email address. Nobody wants to hire firstname.lastname@example.org. A safe bet is to use your McMaster/MUGSI email address.
Make sure you keep the information relevant. People often make the mistake of padding their resumés with extras in the Achievements section but listing Prom Queen of 2009 is not necessary. Neither is “can hold my breath underwater for 2 minutes” when applying for a bank teller job.
Be focused on the job you are applying for and tailor your resumé as such. Make sure the resumé is an appropriate length. It can’t be half a page, but it is unlikely your job and volunteer experience warrants a resumé that is longer than 2 pages. Most job positions require a cover letter and employers may not want to read a 4 page cover letter followed by a 6 page resumé.
When applying for a job, you’re often competing with hundreds of other equally qualified applications, so how do you make sure your resumé sets you apart from the others?
According to The Undercover Recruiter, a UK-based website/blog designed to meet the needs of job seekers, career advancers and anyone needing information on this type of stuff, they mention a few things to do to ensure your resumé will stand out in a crowd and here are a couple of interesting suggestions:
Make your resumé keyword rich: The people who review your resumé have likely looked at tons of others in the same sitting and may start to just scan for keywords. Speak to certain specific aspects of the job description and use the correct terminology for that field.
Make it easy for employers: Font, legibility, spacing and formatting are crucial. Though employers do prefer a professional type font, you may want to consider stepping outside the box and using a slightly different font to catch the attention of the reader who may have read tons of resumés already. On that same note, it is very important to not branch out too far and use Wingdings, but something a little different may make all the difference.
Add a link: With social media being as pervasive as it is, attaching a link to your LinkedIn or Facebook profile may be an interesting touch. Many employers will do an internet search before hiring a person so on that same note, make sure everything on your personal profiles are employer appropriate
Keep in mind that, for employers/recruiters, after reading a pile of resumés, they all look the same. Work to make yours stand out, within the boundaries of professionalism of course, and try a new unique creative way.