It’s that time of the year again…time to start applying to summer jobs, internships, and perhaps even entry-level positions, and for many of us this may be a rigorous task. With so many eligible candidates, and only a few coveted positions, one’s resume must stand out and be noticed if they have a chance at landing that first interview. So what exactly does it take to stand out? Here are a few key points to keep in mind when constructing your winning resume:
Read the job description carefully.
Ensure that you highlight the key skills that the organization is asking for in the ideal candidate. Often times, many companies who receive a large number of applicants, use various software programs that are designed to sift through thousands of resumes that have been submitted. These tools are designed to detect key phrases in your resume (skills such as “leadership”) that match that of the job description. In other words, by simply not having a key term written on your resume, you are disqualifying yourself before the hiring manager has even laid eyes on it!
Use CAR statements.
When describing your various experiences, be sure to use statements that give CONTEXT (As a shift supervisor at McDonalds I was tasked with increasing the morale of employees and decreasing the level of absenteeism…), the actual ACTION that was performed (…after careful evaluation of employees, I implemented a successful buddy system between supervisors and part-time staff as well as an incentive program), and the RESULT (…as a result, absenteeism among employees dropped by 20% in 4 months). Remember to quantify results that you have achieved as much as possible as this provides support/evidence to your claims and will ultimately strengthen your resume.
Be consistent with the format.
Aesthetics are very important when it comes to your resume. As mentioned before, some hiring managers have to sift through hundreds of resumes and it is very unlikely that they will stop to read a resume that is not aesthetically pleasing. This means that you should be consistent with the font, spacing, and alignment. In addition, one should avoid distracting fonts and lines which often take away from your resume. Instead, having some white space throughout will draw attention to the key skills/experiences that you would like to be noticed.
This is very crucial. As with any piece of work that you submit, your resume should be read and re-read numerous times. It is especially suggested that you have another pair of eyes (maybe even three pairs) look it over. You will be surprised at the amount of mistakes/changes that others will be able to notice that you may have completely missed!
Limit to 1-2 pages max.
Be concise – less really is more especially when it comes to resumes. Keeping your resume brief (one page) allows for highlighting your most relevant, and applicable qualifications; include the most pertinent information as to why you would be the best candidate for the position. However, the number of pages really depends on the nature of the job/industry; some resumes do require more detail than others especially for those that have a lot of relevant experience. If you do end up with two pages however, just remember that most hiring managers may only look at the first.
With these few pointers, you should be well on your way to constructing a knock-out resume! Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and that depending on the nature of work/the type of industry you are applying to, other rules may be considered as well. However, it goes without saying that your resume is a reflection of you and of how well you are able to brand yourself to prospective employers. With that in mind, ensure that your resume says what you want it to say about you. It is the first impression, so make it count!
Written By: Aryana Hassan, General Associate at NMSA