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A resume is the only impression a potential employer has of you – so it better be a good one. When a resume hasn’t been updated in a while, it can be hard to know what to change. What do potential employers want to see? Here are a few tips to create a professional and get-noticed resume:
Have it Proofread by Someone Else
Just because you have proofread it a million times, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a mistake. It’s very easy to overlook typos or errors on something you have been staring at for hours, so have at least one other person look over it carefully. Typos and grammatical errors are a huge red flag for potential employers.
Keep a ‘Master’ Resume
Keep a master resume that includes all of your old positions, skills, and special projects. From here, you can tailor each resume to a particular job.
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Keep the Formatting Simple
Use a simple font that is easy to read, with a font size between 10-pt. and 12-pt. If someone has to squint to read your resume, he or she is not going to be able to take everything in. Generally stick to a classic resume style, but if you are in a more creative industry, colors and pictures can be appropriate in moderation.
Keep Experience Relevant
Since you only have one page to fit all of your experience on, it is important that everything be relevant and that you show no more than the last 10-15 years of career history.
Just saying that you “increased sales substantially” isn’t as effective as saying you “increased sales by 42% over a two-year period.” Be specific and use numbers.
Use Relevant Keywords
Look over the job description and see what words are used the most often. If you have these skills, include them throughout your resume. Also be sure not to use overly used vague buzzwords, such as “people person” or “detail oriented.”
Don’t Put Your Education at the Top
Unless you are a recent graduate and don’t have much work experience, put your education after experience. Your most recent jobs are more relevant than what college you went to or your specific degree.
If you have job-hopped a lot, include a “Reason for Leaving” next to each position. Employers generally want someone who will stay at the company for a while and may be wary if you appear to have a spotty job history. Explaining reasons such as “laid off due to downsizing” or “relocation” gives an explanation for your constant job-hopping.
Send it as a PDF
Regardless of whether an employer uses a Mac or a PC, PDFs always look the same. Sending your resume in PDF format ensures that formatting won’t get messed up—plus there will be no red lines under words Microsoft Word thinks that you spelled incorrectly (which you didn’t, of course, because you’ve had it proofread).