Is your resume working for you? Does it give a clear depiction of who you are and your accomplishments? Does it represent you well in your absence?
A resume is a powerful tool if used properly. It is the only thing an employer has to help form an initial impression of you. For today’s professionals, the resume must meet extremely high standards in order to advance you to the next level, the interview.
It should tell your story, while depicting your professional image and style. It must stand out when stacked up against hundreds, perhaps thousands, of resumes received from the competition. Determine your resume’s strengths and weaknesses by answering the following questions:
Is your resume aesthetically appealing?
Lay your resume on a flat surface in front of you and take a couple of steps back. How does it look? Is it crowded, messy, difficult to read at a glance? Does text fill every inch of the page leaving very little white space? Your resume should be clean, simple and easy to read. If it is not, then consider the following:
- Use bullets and short phrases instead of lengthy paragraphs to describe your duties and responsibilities.
- Use basic 12-point font. Basic fonts include Arial, Times New Roman or Verdana. For consistency, use the same font in your cover letter.
- Leave space between categories such as Education • and Experience.
Is your resume longer than two pages?
If so, it is too long. Today’s resume standards permit up to two pages. Two allows you to add spaces to a crowded one-page resume. If using two pages, include your name on the second page. It is also standard practice to exclude the phrase, “References furnished upon request.” This will free up another line for proper spacing creating a clean, easy-to-read resume.
Is your resume scannable?
Many employers use databases to quickly and efficiently match qualified job seekers to available positions. Create a scannable, text-based resume by doing the following:
- Keep the format simple.
- As mentioned earlier, use a basic font.
- Do not use graphics or shading.
- Avoid italics or underlining.
- Use all caps for major headings.
- Use only standard size white or pale paper (8 ½ x 11).
- Do not fold. Use a flat envelope.
- Use industry and corporate jargon; job-specific keywords and phrases; and action verbs to describe skills and experience.