10 Tips to improve your resume for the job search!
There is a growing debate that the resume is dead, and that social media, especially LinkedIn and Twitter, have replaced it. I would argue the opposite. Although there are a few tech companies who will not accept a resume and instead, use creative and alternative ways to source talent, the resume is still relevant. At a recent recruiter panel, I heard of some tech companies using a Twitter dialogue as an alternative to the resume. I have also talked to job seekers who have been so successful in networking, that they never showed their resume, except as a formality for human resources after being hired.
Despite all this, as a career advisor, I would argue that the resume is still very much alive, and it is also the first tool that the job seeker needs to produce before the job search really begins. To be considered a viable candidate, a majority of jobs (I would say 99%) require a resume to be submitted in some form via the organization’s online career site. However, resumes should be customized for each job the applicant applies to, connecting the dots of the job description to the applicant’s skills.
Again, I will remind job seekers that applying only online is not very effective, as the result of searching exclusively online is about a 4 to 10 % success rate. More than 75% of their time needs to be spent networking, and job seekers are not going to be handing out resumes at networking events. However, they should have one ready, in case it is asked for. Like a business card, a job seeker’s resume has to be always ready to go if networking uncovers a job in the hidden job market, or a posted job is recommended by a fellow networker.
To create the most effective resume, I have included 10 suggestions we share with our students at Becker College:
- Be proactive. Create a resume well before you start applying for job opportunities. There is a good chance it will be needed on short notice; then, you can update/customize an already strong resume, instead of rushing to create a mediocre one. Potential employers/internship sponsors can tell the difference, and the time window may be very short.
- Use resume examples, but don’t copy. It is a good idea to find samples of resumes that you like. Make sure they are from a similar career field and level (e.g., don’t use an MBA resume if you are an undergraduate). Don’t copy the samples verbatim; your background is different from the person on the resume, and blatant plagiarism is a bad idea in general.
- Use a professional email address, and verify your phone number. Use your school address or something that incorporates your name, such as JohnSmith@emailaddress.com. Employers may not take you seriously if you use a nickname, or some other unprofessional address.
- Keep it to one page. For most students and recent graduates, a concise one-page resume is expected. There are limited situations, depending on your field and background, where a second page is acceptable. Make sure to have professionals review it before sending a resume that exceeds one page.
- Demand perfection from yourself. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, consistency in formatting/spacing, and completeness in your presentation are all important. Employers will eliminate resumes that do not exhibit excellence in any of these categories.
- Use bullet points and action verbs in the correct tense. Employment, leadership, and volunteer experiences should be described with bullet points, using an action verb as the lead-in word. Make sure the verb tense matches the time displayed. For example, “tutor” for a current position; “tutored” for a past position.
- Use key words. As you describe your experience or skills, use words that apply to the industry. The words could be technical, procedural, describing equipment used, the titles of people you worked with, and more.
- Use reverse chronological order. Display the current or most recent item first; go backwards from there. This goes for education, experience, and any section that displays dates.
- Demonstrate your value. When responding to a job advertisement, review the description, responsibilities and qualifications, and be sure to craft your resume using key words from the description, and past accomplishments that fit the need of the organization.
- Get a review. Make sure to have your resume reviewed by others for advice: career services, professors, trusted professionals, family members, and friends. Often, you will get ideas that enhance the end product.