Technology has changed the landscape of the job search. But one thing remains the same.
“Resumes haven’t gone away,” says Sarah Sieglaff, human resources employment specialist at Dupaco Community Credit Union. “In order to get that phone call to get to the next step, it’s really about standing out. If you’re filling out an application or turning in a resume, that’s your time to shine and sell yourself.”
Whether you’re starting your career or are seeking a new opportunity, boost your chances of getting noticed with a resume that resonates with prospective employers, Sieglaff says every resume should include these important pieces:
- Up-to-date contact information: It sounds obvious, but applicants have either inadvertently omitted their name or contact information, or supplied an obsolete address or phone number. Use a personal email address rather than a student address. “Maybe you turn in your resume when you’re getting ready to graduate, and a year from now a recruiter looks up your resume and thinks you’d be a great fit,” she says. “But now they have no way of contacting you because you used your student email address.”
- Appropriate email address: You would be amazed by the number of applicants who use inappropriate email addresses, Sieglaff says. Your safest bet: use your name or first and middle initials with your last name. If you are submitting an application online, make sure you also select an appropriate username and password. Hiring managers notice those less-than-professional usernames.
- Resume tailored to the position: “Before I put in my resume anywhere, I would research the company I am applying for,” Sieglaff says. “As a recruiter, it’s very apparent if it’s a generic resume versus a resume tailored to the position they’re applying for.” How do you accomplish this? Go online, and find out what the company is passionate about and what skills the position requires. Then, highlight your commonalities—both related job experience and shared passions—throughout your resume, especially in your objective, which has taken the place of the cover letter. “That objective is the first place I look in a resume,” Sieglaff says.
- Your voice: Anyone can use Google to get a resume template and fill in the basics. But hiring managers are looking for someone who’s genuine and real. “When we do phone interviews or first interviews, we can tell if we’re talking to the person who wrote the resume,” Sieglaff says.
- Consistent formatting: Make sure you use the same font and point size throughout your resume. “You can tell when people copy and paste, and the resume continues in a new size,” Sieglaff says.
- No spelling errors: Read your resume carefully to ensure there are no misspelled or misused words. Misusing “there,” “they’re” and “their” is a common mistake. Submitting a resume with these types of errors conveys you’re not detail-oriented, Sieglaff says. “Your resume is your professional biography, so you should know it and make sure it’s correct,” she says.
- Saved in the ideal format: Many companies lock down external email websites. So if you submit your resume as a Google Doc, for instance, the hiring manager might not be able to view your resume. “As a safeguard, I would always save your resume in a Word document and a PDF,” Sieglaff says. And when you save your resume, don’t simply save it as “resume,” like many candidates wrongly do. Sieglaff recommends saving your resume as your name and the company you’re applying for.
- Short and sweet: In many cases, you have mere seconds to sell yourself in your resume. Keep it to one page—two pages max, Sieglaff says. “You have to be able to catch somebody’s eye in such a short amount of time,” she says.
By Emily Kittle