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1. Make sure your resume is updated.
If opportunity knocks, can you answer that knock? I encourage frequent revisions to your resume to accurately reflect the changes within your career. Many are not aggressive and frequently complain that they want a career upgrade but haven’t touched their resume in years. All sites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and CareerBuilder should reflect your most recent work history. Job responsibilities evolve and you want your resume to reflect upward mobility and increased skills.
2. No spelling or grammatical errors.
Without a doubt, spelling and grammatical errors will be what they will remember. I highly encourage having someone else review your resume and do not rely upon just spell check. Fresh eyes may find errors. I frequently teach my candidates as I prepare them for their job search to speak out loud as they read their resume and cover letter. Key errors are hyphen use (e.g. entry-level), verb tense (e.g. led vs. leads), formatting (e.g. inconsistent fonts or different styles of bullet points) and education information (e.g. misspellings or incorrect apostrophe use in bachelor’s degree or master’s degree).
3. Make sure your resume is tailored for the position you are applying for.
You want to look like YOU are the fit! I always post key items from the actual posting such as required experience, skills and educational background, within the center of the resume while doing revisions. Your summary at the top of your resume and bullets should reflect key traits, qualifications or experiences relative to that position. Keywords are frequently used in the search process by recruiters so incorporate them.
4. Use bullet points.
Make your resume readable with bullet points and a work history that is within 10 -15 years. There should not be resumes that include full paragraphs of the tasks you perform. Highlight and document successes. Do not burden the recruiter or HR professional with unnecessary content. A career executive can have a 2-page resume but there is no room for 1.5 pages. Change font, margins, make content more concise but stay within 1 or 2-page format. Remember, they are seeking to review many resumes and skim to weed out those in the selection pool.
5. No generic objective on top!
As a professor of personal branding and a talent acquisition specialist, I do not want to see the frequent error made by those entering the professional workforce. You will never stand out. I want to see a summary of skills that you can bring to an employer that fits the job you are seeking. That may mean consistent tweaking but over time it becomes very easy to customize each resume and cover letter.
6. Use proactive verbs in the appropriate tense and do not be redundant in term use!
Show some imagination with a command of the verbiage that reflects best what you have done in terms of results, not listing duties. What is the benefit to completing those assigned duties? Increased operational performance, expense control, decreased turnover?
7. Highlight promotions you may have received that display additional responsibilities and a track record of success.
Separate each advanced role within the paragraph within that company and add “promoted to” with dates. Do not make it hard to identify career advancement as anyone working within the same company for a period of time without highlighting successes would appear to lack drive and ambition.
8. You state you are results driven, then state those results relative the position you are seeking.
Quantify and validate successes with facts and figures that directly reflect the traits that make you desirable. Exceeding sales projections, extent of scope of span of control or asset management dollars are just a few numerical opportunities that factually support your ability to add value to your employer. Any awards or recognition should be listed.
9. Include the proper dates on your resume.
If you have a large gap on your resume, address it within your cover letter. Be up front and honest as it is a deal killer if you are identified as dishonest. Make sure you utilize the right dates as a recent CareerBuilder’s survey found that 27% of employers identified résumés that don’t include exact dates of employment as one of the most common resume mistakes that may lead them to automatically dismiss a candidate.
10. Be creative with content.
Add some interesting facts depending upon space available as you don’t want it to takeaway for more pertinent content. If you have done volunteer work, achieved significant sporting accomplishments, well-traveled, multiple language proficiencies or been involved in interesting activities list them. They all can add credence to a well-rounded individual who can balance more than just work with a set of life experiences.