Resume Tips for Everyone

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The attention span of the average human is seven seconds. The amount of time to impress a recruiter is six seconds, and the first thing they look for is a reason to toss your resume. Follow these five must-haves to ensure your resume gets into the "Chosen Ones" pile.

1. Contact information

Sometimes the most obvious information to include gets overlooked. Make certain you clearly list your name, phone number, email address, and URL to your LinkedIn profile (see number 5) at the top of your page.

2. Professional titles and keywords

This will be your professional summary section. By viewing your current title, manager, supervisor, etc., no one will be guessing what type of position you are seeking to fill. Keep the paragraph succinct. Employ no more than four sentences that highlight the most relevant and unique attributes that make you the best candidate. 

3. Your career narrative

Most recruiters won't want to know you worked at the local grocery store when you were in high school 20 years ago. You will want to list the experiences that are relevant to the job you are applying to. In one or two sentences, explain the work you did. List these in chronological order with the most recent first. It is also a great spot for your volunteer activities. The experience still counts even if you didn't get paid to do the work. But, list only those volunteer experiences that are relevant to the position.

4. Certifications and credentials 

This is the spot where you can openly brag about yourself. List all your degrees, certifications, and awards. List the most recent first. Include the name of the institution you earned them from and the dates when you received it, start to finish. 

5. Relevant URLs

If you do not have a LinkedIn account, then get one. Personal blogs or other relevant online portfolios should also be included on your resume –keep these all current. Make sure your picture is professional. Portrait Rules: The photo should be from mid-chest up with an appropriate background. Clothing should be solid and dark in color. These photography guidelines will bring attention to your face, so smile! 


Bonus Tips:

A. Use strong verbs, not adjectives in describing yourself, your capabilities, and overall value. Do not be passive. Check out these examples of weak verbs versus strong ones:

Weak: Is/Was Stronger: Serves as, Supports, Leads, Organizes, Builds, Formats, Markets, Trains, Designs
Weak: Does/Did StrongerAccomplished, Solved, Handled, Fixed, Launched, Created
WeakGive/Gave Stronger: Lend, Offer, Provide
Weak: Has/Had Stronger: Holds, Maintains, Retains

B. Try not to go over one page for your resume.

C. Run your resume through a grammar checking tool like Grammarly. There is nothing more unprofessional than a resume with spelling errors.

D. Avoid using too many paragraphs. Allow for a short paragraph for your professional summary. Use bullet points for the rest.

E. Make sure the font you use is easy to read. Times New Roman, size 12, is optimal.

F. Add a skills section where you list, well, your skills such as programs you are adept using, aka Microsoft Word, Excel, etc.

Remember, a resume isn't just a place to list what you have done; it is an opportunity to tell the world how amazing you are. If you doubt yourself, then make this saying your mantra, "Fake it till you make it." When a positive attitude is evident on paper, it will not only put you in the keeper pile but fix you as the top candidate.

Contributed by A. Mecham