January 31, 2009

1 Thing You Can Do Today to Improve Your Résumé

I know there are a lot lists saying "10 things you must have on your résumé," etc. But I find in this time-starved environment, that we don't really have time to focus on all of these. Sometimes, it is just a little easier to focus on one thing a day or per week. That way, you don't get overwhelmed by the process. As if there's not enough to worry about already.

So, if you could only do one thing this week to improve your résumé, I would recommend that it be this:

Make Your Résumé More Reader Friendly:
  1. Remove Any "References" From Your Résumé. This includes the line, "References available upon request." This will give you more room to beef up your accomplishments. These days, references are listed on a separate sheet and submitted only when specifically asked.
  2. Boost the Reader-Friendliness of Your Résumé. No recruiter wants to read your résumé with a magnifying glass. Therefore, make sure you are using a font size between 10 - 12 points. If you go any larger than 12 points, you risk the perception that you lack experience and need to use "filler tactics" to appear credible. The only exception to the font size rule is your name. Make your name as big as possible without sacrificing too much space. Somewhere between 14 - 18 points (depending on the font) should suffice. Also, having your name be more prominent conveys confidence.
  3. Balance the White Space. Most word processing programs default to a margin size of 1.25 inches. This is usually problematic during the résumé-writing process, because you are trying to fit in as much experience as possible onto as few pages as possible. My recommendation is to reduce the margins to between 0.5 - 1.o inch on all sides. Again, any larger and you risk the "filler tactics" perception.
  4. Use Bullet Points. I won't belabor this point, as you've probably heard it before. Yet, every once in a while, I'll see a résumé come through with paragraph style. Submitting your résumé in paragraph style is one of the most sure-fire ways to get it thrown in the trash. Enough said.
Spending 30 - 60 minutes improving the readability of your résumé can translate to more job offers. And in this economy, who wouldn't want that. One last thing...when you are done finessing your résumé, send it to your friends or family using different e-mail reader programs (i.e. Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo!, etc.). This assures that all of your changes and improvements will be transferred correctly when you e-mail your résumé to recruiters/employers. Until next time, happy hunting!

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