Resume practices ebb and flow, and something trendy this year may fall out of fashion by next. With that said, there are also a few principles that remain pretty static and provide some good guidelines for job seekers to adhere to.
Whether you don’t currently have a resume or it’s been a little while since you gave your resume an update, now’s a good time to review the basics and make sure you know what kind of document hiring managers are looking for.
If you have any specific resume needs, that’s something we can help you with once you apply with Performance Staffing Solutions. For now, here are a few basic, overarching principles.
- Pay attention to your formatting.
Too many job seekers assume that it’s content that counts. Actually, the aesthetic presentation of your resume can make or break it; if your resume looks garbled or if it gives recruiters a headache just looking at it, it’s doubtful the content itself can save you. Make sure you present a tidy, orderly presentation with plenty of white space. Aim for readability.
- Make the top third of your resume count.
You shouldn’t assume that hiring managers will read your entire resume, especially not if the top third of it doesn’t draw their attention. Make sure you take full advantage of this important space, providing your name, full contact information, preferred job title, and an executive summary that highlights some of your most marketable skills and competencies.
- Don’t include a career objective.
The career objective is extremely outdated. After all, most job seekers have the same objective: To get a job! Including this on your resume doesn’t really tell the hiring manager anything they don’t already know, and it can frankly be a waste of space. Always opt for an executive summary instead of an objective.
- Include a core competencies section.
Often, hiring managers are scanning resumes for a few important keywords… for example, hard skills or technical skills that are required for the role. Make it easy for them by providing a bulleted list of your core competencies. Usually, this falls just below the executive summary. Make sure you include things like computer programs you’re proficient with, technical certifications you hold, etc.
Focus on performance.
After your executive summary and your list of core competencies, including brief career history, summarizing your most recent jobs. The trick here is to include descriptions that focus not just on your roles/responsibilities, but your actual accomplishments. For example, it’s fine to say you were in charge of boosting sales… but noting that you improved sales by 32% is much more specific and compelling.
- Control the timeline.
You don’t have to include every single job you’ve ever had. In fact, the general practice is to go back just 10 years, unless you have some older jobs that are truly relevant to the positions you’re applying for now. But, if you’re 30 years into your career, you really don’t need to address that internship you had in college or that part-time job you had delivering pizza after graduation.
- Get to the point.
In keeping with the previous point, please understand that you don’t need a resume that’s so comprehensive, it spans page after page. Remember that hiring managers typically have a lot of resumes to review and not much time to do it in, so there’s no need to go beyond a page or two in total. (Only in a handful of specialized fields, such as medicine and higher education, are longer resumes called for.)
- Include information about your educational background.
There are a few things to remember when it comes to including education on your resume. First, we’d recommend including any advanced degrees you hold, including the name of the school where you obtained your degree as well as the field of study. If you don’t have a college degree, then you may want to note that you have a high school diploma, especially if most jobs you apply for require one. Generally, things like grade point average and extracurricular activities don’t need to be included on your resume.
- Consider a cover letter.
A cover letter isn’t strictly necessary, but it can certainly prove helpful. If your resume is where you brand yourself, making a case for the value you offer potential employers, then a cover letter allows you to customize your pitch to the company in question. Include some verbiage that specifically notes why you think you’re qualified for the position, drawing from the language in the job description. Also indicate why you want to work for the company.
Be prepared to supply references.
Finally, should you include a list of references with your resume? Our general advice would be not to include it, but to be prepared to offer a reference list if requested. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy; just the names and contact information for three to five former co-workers or supervisors who will vouch for you if need be.
With these tips in mind, you’re ready to craft a resume that will impress recruiters and hiring managers.
Take the Time to Get Your Resume Right
As a final note, just remember that your resume is an important way for you to establish a positive, professional first impression. It’s worth taking the time to ensure your resume is polished, spell-checked, proofread, and up to date. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact our team of experts here at Performance Staffing Solutions.