When I ask job seekers to name their biggest gripes with the job search process, one answer keeps coming up: Employers never respond to their job applications or resumes.
When I look at the resumes they're applying with, I see many that are hurting more than helping job seekers present their qualifications for a new role.
Here is a top five checklist of items that you should consider in preparing your resume:
1. Professional appearance
Looks matter, and not just during the interview. If your resume appears slapped together, you're not going to make a positive first impression and invite the recruiter to want to read the specific content.
- Does the resume look professional? There are free resume templates available on the Web. Search Google and find one you like, and edit it to reflect your experience.
- Are margins at least ½" on all sides, but no more than 1"?
- If the resume is over one page in length, is it warranted? A good rule of thumb: one page equals 10 years' experience.
- Are bold and italics used selectively to emphasize important information?
Clean and simple is the best. It should be easy to skim and see the progression of your work experience. Is there enough information within each section to substantiate the need for a heading?
- Is there one space between each section?
- Is the content of each section single spaced?
3. Compelling content
Companies are interested in hiring people who can make their organizations better. List accomplishments—not tasks. Your resume should indicate how you've created success for your past employers.
- Is information relevant to your career interest area? If not, consider being brief in these irrelevant areas if your resume is exceeding a single page.
- Is information provided in short phrases, not sentences?
- Does the content focus on responsibilities and accomplishments?
- Does each entry include an easy-to-understand job title?
- If the job is not obvious, does the entry include three to five responsibilities, tasks, special projects or accomplishments to describe the job?
- Are numbers, data, dollar amounts or percentages used to quantify job duties and results (if applicable)?
- Do the skills and keywords have a high match rate to the most frequently desired skills by employers? Use CareerBuilder's Explore Careers tool to find out.
4. Mistake free
Ask a friend to review your resume after you run a spell-check to correct simple mistakes that could rule you out of being considered.
- Is the resume free of errors in English grammar, spelling and vocabulary?
- Is the resume free of punctuation errors?
- Is capitalization used appropriately?
At the risk of stating the obvious…
- Is your name on the resume?
- How about your current address, email and phone number?
If you can confidently answer these questions and an unbiased friend confirms, your resume is much more likely to be recruiter-ready! Now you're ready to start being discovered by potential employers