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Sunday, April 17, 2011

20 Tips for improving your resume

1. CONTENT! CONTENT! CONTENT!
Employers glance over resumes and decide in less than 20 seconds. Note specifics that demonstrate your abilities, your accomplishments, and your past experiences -- these are crucial to making your resume get their attention.
 
2. VISUAL APPEAL
The appearance of a non-electronic resume cannot be overemphasized! It should catch the eye. Watch for spacing and margins. Allow for lots of WHITE SPACE and BORDERS. Make use of italicizing, CAPITALS, underlining, bolding, indentations, and bullets to emphasize your important points.
 
3. USE A ONE PAGE RESUME
Be brief & concise! One page, to the point works best in this competitive marketplace. Be a skillful editor, deleting the portions which are not relevant or least helpful to your securing that particular position. Emphasize your more recent experience in the last 5 - 7 years.
 
4. BE TARGETED
Focus every resume to the job type being applied for. It's actually better to create a different resume for each job type (i.e., one resume for business, another for human resources). This will eliminate the tendency to crowd your resume with too much non-related information
 
5. SHOW ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Be sure to demonstrate results of your work and how your former employers benefited. Use numbers and percentages that show money or time saved. List anything you did that helped the bottom line.
 
6. BE CLEAR
No vague generalities. Say exactly what you mean, using the smallest number of words to make the point.
 
7. BE ACCURATE
State your skills, qualifications, and experience as positively as possible without exaggerating or misstating the truth. If your job responsibilities are not adequately described by your job title, indicate your abilities with appropriate terms (i.e. Events Coordinator, instead of Staff Coordinator).
 
8. DON'T USE GIMMICKS
Employers are very suspicious of gimmicks believing they represent a person who lacks proven substance and accomplishments. Overnighting a resume won't bring you to the head of the pile so save the expense.
 
9. APPROPRIATE TYPE SIZE
Use type size of at least 12, but up to 14, for easier reading.
 
10. AVOID GRAPHIC DESIGNS
Designs often distract to the reader. Colors are not the key to making you stand out. Lines, boxes, shadings or fancy borders should be avoided. Lines are often read as page breaks when employers scan a resume so delete. Plain, but nicely formatted white or cream, high quality paper have all tested well with employers.
 
11. BE COMPLETE
Spell out names of schools, cities, abbreviations, and titles completely, since employers may not recognize abbreviations or acronyms.
 
12. USE ACTION VERBS
Start each sentence with a descriptive action verb - such as established, managed, organized, developed, planned, etc. They add power to your sentences making it easier to note your actions and the important results those actions created.
 
13. MAKE POINTS QUICKLY
Complete sentences are not necessary in resume writing; it is better to use simple descriptive statements to make a point.
 
14. PROOFREAD
Don't trust computer spell checkers. The computer will not correct "SEA" which is a word when, unfortunately, you meant see.
 
15. BE PERFECT
The resume you send out must be flawless. No mistakes or typos, no white-out, no crossing out information to update. Sloppy resumes don't get interviews. This is the employers #1 complaint that we hear from employers in the career center.
 
16. MAKE IT READABLE
A crammed, cramped resume often gets left unread. Make deletions wherever necessary to achieve a readable product.
 
17. DON'T INCLUDE PERSONAL STATISTICS
It is no longer considered professional or wise to include information about marital status, gender, height, weight, health, or a picture on your resume.
 
18. DON'T WASTE SPACE
Employers know you'll provide references if they request them, therefore it is not necessary to put "References upon request" at the end of your resume.
 
19. DON'T ADVERTISE NEGATIVE INFORMATION
The resume is the wrong place to advertise that you were laid off, fired, or had an extended illness. Never state why you left a job; just list the dates of employment.
 
20. EDIT IT
Does your resume clearly and quickly communicate to employers that you can do the job? Do your strengths come across? Does everything support the job you are targeting? Should anything be removed? Final test: are employers calling? If not keep improving your resume until they do.

Sample Resumes
Source: University of Kentucky | Career Center

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos

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