Remember the phrase: “You only get one chance to create a first impression!” Your resume is often that “first impression” — and it’s one you don’t want to miss.
The goal of a good resume is to get you an interview, where you can showcase your skills and dazzle your prospective employer.
Below are some guidelines that will help you create a new resume—or update an existing one—with content that will help you make a great impression.
- Make sure the image you create on paper is suited to the salary you want. While all resumes should be presented professionally, resumes for high-paying positions in particular need to be well-formatted, worded effectively and accurately, and meticulously proofed.
- If you have less than five years of experience, your resume should fit on one page with any college or advanced education/training listed at the top. If you have more than five years experience, try to limit yourself to two pages. Resumes should not go over three pages under any circumstances. If you want to include a project list to highlight your experience, add a separate page as an attachment to your resume
- The two most popular resume formats are Chronological and Functional. Chronological is a format everyone should have on hand, regardless of what type of position you are seeking. Functional resumes prioritize your experience and minimize time frames. This is a good format for anyone looking to change careers or industries because it allows you to easily highlight transferable skills. Make sure the image you create on paper is suited to the salary you want. While all resumes should be presented professionally, resumes for high-paying positions in particular need to be well-formatted, worded effectively and accurately, and meticulously proofed.
- Make sure your resume is error-free. We can’t stress enough how important it is to not only use “spell check” on your resume, but to manually proofread as well. Nothing says “unprofessional” like a typo, wrong word, or poorly structured sentences.
- Try to pinpoint the “hidden needs” a job may require and incorporate them into your content. These may include personal qualities like self-motivation, customer-service skills, written and oral communication skills, or flexibility with travel, overtime, and weekend shifts.
- Arrange the content of your resume in order of importance/relevance. If you’re using a Chronological resume format, make sure your responsibilities are arranged in the most impressive order. If you’re going with a Functional resume format, be sure that the skills most relevant to the specific job are listed first.
- For Technology positions, always list your technology skills, level of adeptness, and the number of years you’ve been utilizing each skill.
- List any special certifications or advanced training you received for hardware and software applications. Any additional capabilities will help you stand out from the competition.
- List any professional awards or recognition you received for your work. Your resume is not the place to be humble—any relevant achievement should be included.
- Convey how your unique skills will benefit the company and position. Will you help increase productivity? Do you have skills that can streamline business? Give examples of how you’ve contributed to the success of businesses in the past. If you have less than five years of experience, your resume should fit on one page with any college or advanced education/training listed at the top. If you have more than five years experience, try to limit yourself to two pages. Resumes should not go over three pages under any circumstances. If you want to include a project list to highlight your experience, add a separate page as an attachment to your resume.
Resume DON'TS - Tried and True Mistakes to Avoid
While it may be tempting to spice up your resume in an effort to stand out, it’s way too easy to step over the line.
Here are a few examples of what NOT to include in your resume.
- Never include your salary history or the reason you left a previous job on your resume.
- Resist the urge to include a photograph of yourself on your resume.
- Do not include references in your resume. Your recruiter will ask for references at your ISG interview, or at the appropriate time. See item 7 in Starting Your Search.
- Don’t exaggerate your experience or background. At some point, the truth will come out and you’ll inevitably have some explaining to do. Exaggerating a skill can derail an interview as the focus shifts to finding out what else you may have exaggerated.
- Avoid mention of time-consuming extra-curricular hobbies unless they are directly related to your professional goals.
- Don’t submit your resume to your recruiter without thoroughly spell-checking and proofreading it first. Mistakes happen, but they shouldn’t happen on your resume—nothing says “unprofessional” like typos.
- Don’t allow yourself to think you’ll be hired just from your resume. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, but it’s the face-to-face interview that will get you the job. Check out our advice on Interview Guidelines and preparation.