It’s possible to get a lot of conflicting advice when it comes to writing resumes that work. For example, Michael Feeley from Huffington Post says, “Your summary is the first thing a prospective employer sees. It’s the jewel that opens your resume. Take full advantage of it. Exploit the space.” He goes on to give more advice about how you should weave your future objectives as well as your experience into this summary.
On the other hand, Trudy Steinfeld from Forbes says, “Don’t worry about an objective—employers will skip over this, or worse, will screen your resume out based on an objective that is not a perfect match for the job they’re hiring for.”
Originality vs. Diligence
The Huffington Post writer seems to be more interested in originality, taking charge and expressing your uniqueness. According to him, you’re supposed to be out there, trying to impress your potential employers.
The Forbes writer, on the other hand, recommends greater conformity and neatness. According to her, you should try to show your employer that you’re going to be a diligent, hard-working employee rather than a mover-shaker.
Common Sense Resume-Writing Tips
Both the above-mentioned points of view have something to recommend them and, depending on what type of job you’re applying for and what is more likely to appeal to your prospective employer, you could follow both these types of advice. But here are a few common sense tips that are applicable no matter what type of job you’re applying for:
- Neatness. Just as you would make an effort to be neat when you go in for an interview, you have to be neat about your resume-writing as well. You can’t send in a resume with grease or coffee stains. You can’t send in a resume in which the font changes halfway through the page. And it’s better to go with something simple rather than a complicated format; this will ensure that the resume doesn’t lose its formatting when someone else opens it on their computer.
- Spelling and Grammar. You need to make sure that you have spelled everything perfectly and that there are no grammatical mistakes in your resume. If diction is not your forte, get someone with better language skills or a professional to look over your resume. Rather than starting complicated sentences which end up as sentence fragments, it’s better to use short ones which are to the point.
- Visual Appeal. It’s important for a resume to have visual appeal. This doesn’t mean that it has to use complicated fonts and formatting. On the contrary, it’s best for a resume to be simple. Use a standard font like Times New Roman orArial. Highlight the main points that a person can look over first, such as your various sections (work experience, education etc.) and job titles. A potential employer should be able to look over everything you’ve written in bold font and get a general idea of what you’ve done.
- Job Descriptions. If your resume passes the “one glance test,” the potential employer will sit down to actually read your job descriptions. You can either write them in paragraph form or use bullet points to set off each thing you did at a previous job. In general, bullet points are recommended because they draw a person’s eye downwards in a systematic way. But if you’re applying to a job where good writing is appreciated e.g., a job at a publishing firm, writing in paragraphs would also be acceptable.
- Brevity. In general, keep everything that you write tolerably brief. Most people recommend keeping your resume to one page. And this also has a greater amount of visual appeal. But if you really can’t bring yourself to cut out too much, two pages should be your maximum. Under each job description, you need a maximum of 4-5 lines to tell your potential employer what you’ve done. More than that would be overkill.
These are general tips that will help you create the type of resume that busy employers will easily be able to glance through. It’s also a good idea to do some research about the employer before you send in the resume. Read the job description carefully and get an idea about what they’re looking for. If you feel like your current resume doesn’t reflect their ideas, then by all means, tailor it so that you come across as the type of applicant they’re looking for.
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