Saturday, October 29, 2011

9 Tips on how to improve your résumé

Employee works with tropical fish at a hatchery: Tampa, Florida
Photographed by Charles Barron, Jan. 1953
When I was in college, about 15 years ago, I took a communications class that focused on improving interviewing and résumé writing skills.  Many of the things learned in the class was applied in my own résumés. 

What made it challenging, however, was that during the time, computer software introduced many ways a person can jazz up their résumé.  Borders, fonts and pictures obscured context and made it challenging to present your professional experience.

In addition, paper became an important element in résumé writing.  I spent hours and money choosing a box of résumé paper from a row full of options. 

Paper, fonts and borders may help, but what really matters more is how you present your accomplishments in context.  Below I've listed a few recommendations I gathered from freelance writer Denene Brox and High Tech recruiting firm marketing manager Christina Long that may help your résumé stand out.
  1. Present your accomplishments in four to six sentences.  Focus on outcomes rather than listing job duties.
  2. Use "common buzz words" throughout your resume.
  3. Use bullet points and highlight essential projects or accomplishments that stand out.
  4. Customize your résumé based on the employer.  Only list previous jobs that relate to the position being advertised.  And avoid generic résumés.
  5. Résumés should be no more than two pages long. 
  6. Be honest when listing skills.
  7. Use some white space and avoid overcrowding text.  Make your résumé easy on the eyes.
  8. Include your contact information on every page.
  9. Proofread.  Have someone proofread for grammatical errors and typos.
Sources:; Brox, Denene, "The Top of the Stack" PM Network, Vol. 24, No. 8 (August 2010), pg. 48.

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