Guest Author: Cathy Eng, CARW, Owner of Resume Rocketeer, Inc.
Most of the resumes I come across could use more focus, better organization, and sharper wording. While professional services are ideal to add these qualities and make your resume more persuasive and polished, it may not be an option at the time. You could spend time making your resume look more eye-catching and unique (e.g. crafting a career summary or even adding a bar graph showing growth in personal sales), but these aspects can take hours and cause a lot of frustration to create.
However, there are some easy tricks that will make your resume instantly more appealing to a hiring manager or recruiter, which will make them more likely to spend time reading it. Here are some easy tips for instantly improving your resume’s aesthetics and content:
1. Put your most relevant information up front. If you are a recent graduate with little work experience, put your education first. If you are in IT, list your technical certifications right away. This will put your strengths first and keep hiring managers from having to search for your qualifications.
2. Put your specific job highlights into bullets. If you have paragraphs listing your responsibilities and accomplishments under each job, you may want to rethink your approach. The human eye has a much easier time reading separate bullets than a block of text. With bullets, you can be sure each sentence/phrase stands out on its own.
3. Remove personal information. While coaching your child’s hockey team shows initiative and a good work/life balance, it is best to leave it off your resume (unless, of course, you are applying for a coaching job). Including personal clubs, groups, or extracurricular activities takes away from your more relevant, career-focused content.
4. Put your font size at 11 points and use a legible font. Fancy cursive fonts are pretty but if they’re difficult to read, the resume will simply get tossed aside. At the same time, too-small fonts (10 and lower) are often too hard to read. Large fonts (12 and larger) can appear juvenile and give the impression you are just trying to fill space.
Since your resume gets anywhere from seven to 30 seconds in front of a hiring manager, it must be organized and interesting in order to get noticed. If not, it is immediately bound for the “no” pile. While most resumes could use a thorough makeover, the tips above are good guidelines to instantly make your resume more likely to stay in the “yes” pile!