So you just graduated from college or are looking for a better position? Perhaps you sent out your resume months ago with no bites. How come you haven’t gotten a callback for that dream job you've had your eye on? Don’t blame the economy... look at your resume!
Over the last decade, I've been asked to review countless resumes for my employers and my own business, and to forward to other companies. Without knowing anything else about an applicant, the resume is the first and, in some cases, the only shot in front of an employer. I've seen so many talented applicants passed over simply because they have weak resumes (which end up in the shred bin!).
Ultimately your goal is to highlight your best features and stand out above everyone else. The following easy suggestions will help you polish up your resume so it shines so brightly, your potential employer can't help but ask you in their door!
1. Include an Objective: An Objective tells employers you have a career focus or specialization. Your resume has a purpose, rather than just sending it around town to see whatever sticks. Trust me... employers can tell who wants the job. I customized each resume and stated objective according to the position applied for. For example, instead of a general Objective of seeking a challenging career in Communications, I specified "global marketing communications", "media and broadcasting communications", "new media journalism", etc. according to the particular job applied for.
2. Descriptive Adverbs and Nouns: Use as many expressive adverbs and nouns as possible to describe your varied roles and job functions within each position. Don't be afraid to use the Thesaurus! Explanatory and vivid action verbs such as "Negotiated," "Coordinated," "Implemented," and "Created" are appealing and powerful. What sounds better to explain my role as a Public Relations Specialist?
- Wrote and sent press releases for various events
- Prepared and distributed press releases for important corporate activities, events and strategic partnerships
Also, elaborate on specific sales/profits you earned the company, new programs you created, and other achievements. Go ahead and highlight the bad-a** stuff you've done!
3. Work Experience before Education: If you have worked at least one great job or internship, place Work Experience before Education. A common mistake for young professionals is to list Education first. Once you get into the professional world, everyone wants to see where you've worked and what you've done, and schooling is secondary. Which brings up another point.. if you are applying for your first job or internship and don't have prior work experience, make sure to showcase your extracurricular activities, volunteer work, positions and awards. This indicates that you possess many essential "working" skills such as teamwork, leadership, initiative and ambition.
4. Include a Cover Letter: This is an essential yet often-overlooked part of the job application. My suggestion is a 3-4 paragraph letter (or email) addressed to the contact person. Acknowledge the specific position so employers know you’re serious about it. Play up your best features showing them just how amazingly suitable you are for the job and company. It's also the perfect opportunity to highlight skills which may not seem fitting for the position -- on the surface -- but may be give you more well-rounded credibility. For example, I applied once for a marketing account manager position; although I never worked directly in marketing, I discussed how as a banker I simultaneously managed several multi-million dollar accounts from initial negotiation to closing to continual maintenance. The employer really valued this experience for the new job!
5. Reflect your Personality: Unless you're applying for a boring position at a very serious company (which you probably don't want anyway), feel free to show a little flair. Why not add colorful touches or a unique font to your resume? For example, if your favorite color is red, add a border or category headings in red. Perhaps you can add a professional photo of yourself or your personal logo next to your contact information. Remember the point is to stand out; but of course make sure it is appropriate for the position and company.
6. Spell-check is your friend: So you spend hours polishing your resume and cover letter to perfect eloquence. Then your potential employer takes one look at your resume and notices you mipselled a few wrods in the frist pargraph. This error really irks a lot of employers because it gives the impression that the applicant is sloppy and/or careless. If you're not particularly gifted in spelling or grammar, make sure to at least do spell-check and grammar check prior to sending. And please READ your resume and cover letter entirely -- every single word -- to make sure it says exactly what you want it to way. Oops, I mean "say."
If nothing else, make sure you ask someone you trust to review and provide an unbiased critique of your resume before sending it to employers. I’ve helped dozens of applicants land a job just by making some of these crucial tweaks. Keep in mind your resume may be the first and only impression a potential employer has of you. So make it count!
Good luck and happy job hunting!
If you found these tips helpful, please send this article to your friends. Whether you agree or disagree, I'd also love to receive comments. Care to share tips that have worked for you?
*The above article is intended for general job positions. Look out for these and other helpful tips and suggestions! For more information on productivity, success and in my new book Sculpt Your Life From Sketch to Masterpiece(TM).
Please send any questions or suggestions for future articles to Alexandra@ArtistaMundo.com.