Last Updated on April 8, 2016
You only get one chance to make a first impression and that impression can follow you for a long time. When job hunting, your resume is the first thing most companies will see regarding you. It is important to note and remember that what you say on your resume is only half of the impression.
What you show is also important so you must be careful of this side of the equation as well. Sloppy, error-filled resumes generally are not taken seriously and rarely get their writer an interview. Writing a resume that gets a hiring manager’s attention for the right reasons isn’t difficult but it does take planning and careful attention to details.
Your resume is a potential employer’s first introduction to you so you want to make the best first impression possible. If you are sending a copy through the mail or handing it to a potential employer at a job fair, it should be typed and in an appropriate format. The page should be clean with no smudges, dirt, or excessive folds. If you are submitting your resume via electronic means, it should be properly formatted and in an appropriate font.
Be certain that your formatting will stay as you want it when it is sent and that it is sent in a program that is widely used and can be read without having to convert it. When emailing your resume, it should be sent as an attachment to a well-written cover letter. By sending it as an attachment, you will be better able to keep the formatting as you want it.
Keep the theatrics to a minimum
Crazy fonts, word art, and pictures have no place in a resume. Use one standard font, generally either Ariel or Times New Roman, in a readable size, usually 11 or 12 point. You may put your name in a larger size of the font you are using, if you chose, in order to highlight it. Your resume should be printed only on resume paper. Resume paper is available in muted colors, if you prefer.
Color will make your resume stand out in a pile on a hiring manager’s desk, but you should only use those colors available in actual resume paper. Using extremely bright paper or low quality paper will get your resume noticed, but most likely it will not be taken seriously by the hiring manager. The same holds true for electronically submitted resumes. Unless you are applying for an extremely creative position, you should save the word art and animations for another time.
Check and double check
Spelling errors, grammar mistakes, sentences that don’t make sense are all errors that could cost you a job. By not double checking your resume for errors and items that need clarification, you are sending the message that you don’t care about details. You also need to check all attachments, such as references and salary history, and your cover letter for errors and sentences that don’t make sense.
Once you think you have caught your errors, have at least one other person read your resume and cover letter. Sometimes we can’t see errors because we know what we mean and think it makes sense to everyone as written. By having another set of eyes go over your materials, it is more likely that errors will be caught in time to be corrected before employers see your resume and cover letter.
Any links should be spotless
If you decide to link your resume to an online social media site, be positively sure that the link works and that there is nothing on that site that would show you in a negative light. Even if you don’t offer a link, expect potential employers to attempt to view your Facebook and other social media sites. Any photos showing you drunk, in a bar, or in any state of undress should be removed as they don’t show you in a very positive situation.
Employers may think twice about interviewing you if they think you are prone to partying and could miss work because of it. Teachers, police, and others who are in the public eye need to be particularly careful of what they post on the internet as these professions open you up to a lot of scrutiny by many different people and organizations. A good rule to follow is that when you are job hunting, you post as little as possible and when you do, it should be appropriate and positive.
Honesty is the best policy
Padding your resume, embellishing the details of a job to make you look more experienced, is never a good thing as padding to one person is lying to another and it is a truly dishonest practice. There is nothing wrong with highlighting past experience in a positive manner, but what you tell a future employer need to be able to be verified either by you or by a past employer.
Hiring managers are very good at seeing through padding or outright lies on a resume and simply won’t waste their time interview someone who isn’t completely honest in presenting their experience and work history. Don’t invent impressive titles for yourself or take credit for someone else’s work. Inevitably, your misinformation will come to light and you could be fired over it. Your resume is not a work of fiction; it must portray you accurately and be reflective of who you are as an employee.
Everyone wants a resume that makes the look good and will eventually secure a job for them. However, you also want your resume to present you in the best light possible. While spelling errors, bright paper, and links to your last beer-fest on Facebook will make your resume memorable, it will be remembered for the wrong reasons. Such resumes usually don’t make it past the hiring manager’s desk. By following a few simply tips, you can be sure your resume will be a good, clear representation of who you are and why you are the perfect candidate to fill the position.