Career Building 101: Resume writing

First impressions are often made before a person can even utter a word, and in the hiring world, this fact can be a scary one. The Huffington Post cited a study released by TheLadders, an online job search site, which reveals that job recruiters look at resumes for approximately six seconds each. Six seconds to make a first impression on paper is not a lot of time to showcase your skills. So how do you separate yourself from the competitive pact of other resumes?

According to The Huffington Post, employers “spend 80 percent of their brief review on six key elements of your resume: your name, the current company you work for, your previous employment, the start and end dates of your previous position, the start and end dates of your current position and your educational background.”

If you’ve never created a resume before, these six key elements represent good starting points. If you have created a resume, it won’t hurt to refine these elements by keeping in mind that employers might spend not more than a few seconds viewing your resume.

Resume building is an art in itself. Bragging about yourself on a piece of paper while adhering to the invisible guidelines of professional resumes is not exactly a method of writing that comes natural to anyone. Additionally, as young professionals gather up an arsenal of internships and volunteer experience, the contents of their resumes are in constant need of updating and re-prioritizing. In the end, no person’s resume is ever complete or perfect, which for some can be a deterring factor of resume building.

Writing for a resume is more than simply stating how hard-working and dedicated you are. Taking the extra step to tailor your resume to the job that you desire to acquire can be the difference between employment and unemployment. With the following tips in your resume toolbox, landing the dream job and making an impressive first impression can be a little less daunting.

Tip #1: Resume reflection

According to Monster.com, “employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization.” This can be accomplished simply by thoroughly reading the job description of a desired position and making sure that your resume reflects what the position calls for. For example, if the job description states, “we are looking for someone who has the ability to work on tight deadlines,” then a bullet point on your resume should be about how you personally have a wealth of experience meeting tight deadlines.

Of course this is not to suggest that this experience should be fabricated, but to include jobs on your resume that pertain to strict scheduling. While this does create extra work for you since you are essentially creating a new resume each time you apply for a job, it pays off in the long run.

Tip #2: Clear consistency

Since it is estimated by TheLadders study that six elements on a resume stand out above the rest, it’s important to position these six elements clearly and consistently. Changing fonts and formatting can be confusing for an employer and can cause them to look at your resume for an even shorter period of time. Months and years of employment should be straightforward and if you decide to bold one company under your job experience then it is imperative that all companies are consistently bolded. There is a design element in resume building that can definitely be experimented with, but only to an extent. Consistency comes first.

Tip #3: Victory verbs

Changing phrases such as “Hired to manage employees” to “Inspired a passion in employees that led them to increase customer satisfaction by 13 percent” is not only more specific, but more exciting. Avoid bland phrases with passive language. Do not downplay the job that you worked. If you have specific evidence to back up claims, include it when appropriate.

Start off sentences with verbs such as administered, analyzed, examined, instituted, designed, calculated and executed rather than words such as work, did or hired. This method gives employers the ability to quickly scan your resume by just looking down the list of your action verbs.

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Tip #4: Spotless spelling (and grammar)

What seems so simple is oftentimes overlooked. Double and triple checking that your resume is free of spelling and grammar errors is so obvious that this step is often skipped. Additionally, it’s hard to critique something that you created. Give your resume to someone who has a career in your desired field to look over. This can help you in many ways. Not only will an extra set of eyes hopefully catch your mistakes, but someone with the career experience that you wish to have someday will be able to give you useful information as to how to make yourself sound more relevant to the business today.

Tip #5: The prioritizing process

It’s tempting to want to put every single thing you have accomplished onto your resume, and while you should be proud of each accomplishment, a resume really only leaves you with enough room for a handful of them. Because of this, it’s important to include only your most relevant, recent and pertinent job experience. It is important to emphasize the recent quality of inclusion here. If you are applying for a job in the fashion industry and you worked at a retail store ten years ago, this job experience is sadly no longer relevant.

Once you have your most important three to five jobs picked out, then it is necessary to organize them on your resume by date. Creating a timeline of your job experience will help the employer see your career growth, and hopefully each job will have provided you with a wide variety of experience.

As the summer months span on, many students enjoy a much needed break from constantly thinking about their career aspirations, GPAs and the countless papers and projects. However, taking the time to touch up a resume can be something that you’ll thank yourself for this Fall when you are back at school and frantically searching for an internship or job.