New Resume for the New Year


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Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.
~Seneca

The new year is upon us and you may be thinking about trying to land yourself a new job, change careers, apply for some casual or part-time work or simply clean up your resume in case you decide to apply for a job in the near future. 

Here are some useful tips that you may find helpful from a recruiter's perspective.

In your resume, make it easy for whoever is screening your resume to figure out that you have the things they need to do the job they need filled.

Here are some proven tips on what keeps me reading an applicant’s resume long enough to consider a qualified applicant for an interview.

Provide your contact information by providing a clear title name, address and phone number.  Seems simple.  But you wouldn’t believe the number of applicant resumes who don’t provide a phone number or email address that they can be reached.

Put your contact information right at the top.  Right underneath your name.


If you forget your contact information, a very interested recruiter may go as far as to try to look up your phone number or find the email address that you sent your resume.  However, if you are in competition with a number of qualified applicants, they are not going to go to a lot of effort to find you.  So have your name and contact information front and center on your resume.


Privacy laws may differ where you live. However, if there is no reason that you shouldn’t give your contact information, it would be in your best interest to make it easy for the people in HR to contact you.  Provide your email address that you check regularly and a contact phone number.  Home and cell phone numbers are always good.


Professional email address.  Please create a professional email address that makes it easy for a recruiter to figure out who they are emailing.  Something like johnsmith.com or jsmith@yahoo.com is good.  But, cutebunny539.com is not!  Your email address gives and impression to the recruiter as to who you are.  It also serves as a record if they emailed you.  With an ambiguously named email, it is difficult for them to be sure they are contacting the right person.  It is also unprofessional.



Be sure to follow all the posting instructions exactly as outlined.  Many good qualified candidates get disqualified by not following simple posting and application instructions.  For example, if there is a closing date, be sure to apply before the close of the posting.
 
Cover letter.  Some sources may argue that a cover letter is not necessary.  A well written cover letter that addresses needs that the employer is looking for will set your application apart from the others. 

Briefly highlight a major career achievement or award that relates to the position your are applying for.  Hook the reader.  Get them to want to read on and consider you as an interesting applicant.

Use key words in your resume and cover letter that were used in the job description and posting of the core competencies they are looking for, on your resume.  Many organizations use intuitive recruitment software that searches key words and will pre-screen based on those key words. 

In the place I work, we look at each resume manually where each resume is read by an actual human being.  However, with each different organization that you apply to, you never know if your resume is being pre-screened by keyword software.  So be sure to use some of the key words or competencies that they are looking for. 

You can figure out what key words to use by reading through the posting or asking the company for a full job description.

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Make your resume easy on the eyes.  The font should be no smaller than 12 point.  Use bold font for highlighting key things like your job title and previous organizations  Use bold sparingly.   Never type ALL IN CAPITALS unless perhaps it’s your name in the header.  Recruiters read through a lot of applications.  Eventually, their eyes get tired and small font becomes very difficult to read.  I have known some recruiters who discard hard to read resumes simply because it’s too frustrating to get through.  Don’t be that qualified person who buried his qualifications in hard to read font.

How many pages? One page or two?  In most cases, unless an organization has specified that you should keep your resume to one page, then a two page is your best bet (not including the cover letter).  By all means, if you don’t have enough information to make it two pages, don’t fill it with fluff.  Be concise.  If you can capture relevant related experience in two pages then keep it at two pages. 

Three pages is too long but may be acceptable if all the information is really important and relevant.  Anything longer than three pages - unless an organization is asked for a full CV - three pages is way too long!

Use proper formatting and spell checking.  Some recruiters and hiring managers are not very forgiving when it comes to typos, and usage errors.  Be sure to check your work and have a fresh pair of eyes read your resume over before sending it out to the world.

Put the most relevant points that are relevant to the job you are applying to closer to the top of each position that you have held.  Some applicants feel that the more points they put under each job title, the better.  That is not true. 

Recruiters are looking for you to show your most relevant experience and responsibilities related to the position that you are applying for.  Don’t waste precious resume space on non-relevant information.  And by all means put the most relevant experiences at the top!

Make it obvious that you have the minimum qualifications. 
Minimum qualifications are the first key to getting yourself considered as an applicant.  If a minimum qualification is that you have a college diploma.  Indicate that you have a diploma, the institution you received your degree and the year you received it.

Note: Some people prefer not to indicate the year that they received their education for fear of age discrimination.  However, if you are applying in an industry where it is relevant how recent your education was obtained (e.g. IT or technical occupations), it may be in your best interest to indicate the year that you completed your education.

It is not the job of the recruiter to figure out whether or not you are qualified.  It is your job to show them how without question you are qualified.  If you leave it up to the reader to dig through all the information to figure out whether or not you are qualified you run the risk that they will get tired of deciphering your resume and simply skip past it.

Your resume should show that you care about the position you are applying for.  That you put thought into the content and didn’t simply send out a one-size-fits all resume to the organization.  Put effort into your resume and you just might land that dream job.

Best wishes and have a prosperous New Year!


Feel free to send me a friendly email or comment if you have any specific resume or interview questions.
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