When an employer looks at your resume, you've got about 30 seconds to make a good impression. That's the average amount of time most employers spend reading a resume. To capture the reader's attention, you need to be clear and to-the-point. And, that's not all. Keep in mind the following guidelines to create an effective resume :
Be Concise and Omit Irrelevant Information
Employers don't want to read a long, drawn-out version of your life's accomplishments. They have stacks of resumes to read, and want to know quickly whether or not you would be a good fit for their company. So, be concise, and exhibit your skills and abilities.
A resume should only include information that will help convince an employer to interview you. Descriptions of relevant skills and accomplishments should be concise and to the point. Including irrelevant experience and lengthy descriptions will bury the important information. Only include personal information where it demonstrates an important personal quality or qualification. A resume should represent what you can do on the job, not what you do in your personal life.
Don't Forget Your Objective
Before diving into writing your resume, plan out your career objective. Make it clear and focused. Remember to keep the message consistent throughout your resume as you summarize your skills and accentuate your strengths.
Write a Powerful Opening Statement
If you are a recent graduate or have limited experience in your career, you should include a Job Objective statement at the top of your resume, which will help focus the reader's attention and describe what type of position you are looking for.
If you have experience in your career field, you want a powerful Summary statement that illustrates your best qualifications for the position at the top of the resume. A well-crafted opening statement should convince an employer to keep reading.
Use Industry Jargon
Use industry jargon and acronyms to reflect your familiarity with the employer's business, but not to the point where it makes your resume hard to read or understand. Spell out acronyms in parentheses if they are not obvious, such as TQM (Total Quality Management).
Customize It: Focus on Your Benefit to Employers
Describe your experience in a way that relates to the skills the employer is seeking. Focus on highlighting accomplishments that will arouse the interest of employers who read your resume. Answer the question: "How can this candidate fulfill the role and make a positive impact?" If a company is looking for a candidate who has leadership ability, highlight your experience in training new employees or in managing projects. Remember that the goal is to get the interview.
Draw attention to your resume with keywords that describe your skills and experience. Inserting descriptive keywords in your resume is becoming more important as an increasing number of companies search for resumes in computer databases that find matches through keywords. These words should relate to the job you are applying for while highlighting your own skill set.
Use Action-Benefit statements: Avoid Boring List of Job Responsibilities
The best resumes describe experience using Action-Benefit statements, which describe an action you took in response to a challenge or opportunity, and explain how your action had a positive benefit for your company. This method brings your experience statements to life and demonstrates how you can achieve success and produce results.
An Action-Benefit statement might read "Analyzed declining sales and developed campaign that increased orders by 30% in less than one month." This statement describes the situation or challenges you faced (declining sales), the Action you took (developed a campaign), and the Benefit of your actions (a 30% increase in orders).
Quantify Your Achievements
You need to give the reader an idea of what you have done throughout your career, but instead of focusing on the duties you were responsible for at your last jobs, list your accomplishments in action-benefit statements along with quantifiable facts to back up your claims. Use numbers, percentages and dollar amounts to show your success in achieving company goals. Instead of writing "Responsible for increasing sales in my territory," use "Increased sales in my territory 150% over 6 months. Managed 30 accounts increasing revenues from $1.5M to $2M annually."
Use Action Verbs
Portray yourself as active, accomplished, intelligent, and capable of contributing. Examples: Managed, Launched, Created, Directed, Established, Organized, and Supervised. Never use the same action word repeatedly. Instead of using a word like 'directed' over and over, use synonyms such as controlled, supervised, guided, or managed. Utilize a thesaurus, career advice Web sites and other sources if you are having problems coming up with new ways to say the same thing.
Be Professional, Not Personal
You do not have much room in a resume, so why take up valuable space with information unrelated to the position you are seeking? Focus on your work experiences and never refer to personal information such as race, religion, marital status, age, political party, or even personal views. In all but a few instances, it would be illegal for the employer to consider such issues. Also, avoid the use of humor and clichés in resumes and forget about mentioning the fact that you enjoy horror movies and surfing in your spare time.
If you want to include personal traits in your resume, such as "Dependable, Highly-Organized, Self-Motivated, and Responsible," rather than just listing these traits, try demonstrating these characteristics using examples from your experience. For example, instead of writing "Dependable," write "Never missed an important deadline in five years as a project manager."
Keep a Positive Tone
Your resume should present you in the best possible light. If you don't possess every skill an employer is seeking, do not emphasize your shortcomings. Focus on what you can offer.
Lying or exaggerating about your skills and abilities will only come back to haunt you.
Be Organized and Logical
In addition to reviewing your experience, employers also use the resume to sense whether you are organized, logical, and concise. Make sure your resume is balanced, neat, visually appealing, and flows consistently. Clearly separate sections and emphasize section titles.
Abandon the use of exorbitant, exquisite vocabulary. In other words, don't try to impress employers with the depth of your vocabulary. Use words everyone can understand.
Combine Sections When Possible
Try to combine any short sections together to make your resume more compact. For example, if you only have one entry under training, consider placing it under your education instead and change the section title to "Education and Training."
Use Common Section Headings
Use common section headings. Examples: Objective, Experience, Employment, Work History, Skills, Summary, Summary of Qualifications, Accomplishments, Achievements, Capabilities, Education, Professional Affiliations, Publications, Licenses and Certifications, and Honors.
Omit Salary Information
Never refer to salary in your resume. Save this information for the interview.
Avoid Writing in First Person ("me" or "I")
Your resume is not a personal correspondence, and should not include words such as "I," "my," or "me." Replace such personal pronouns with short action statements. Instead of saying, "I wrote several articles for the company newsletter," try, "Researched and wrote several articles for the company newsletter." Save the first person pronouns for your cover letter.
Placing Professional Titles
There are several places where it would be appropriate to put your professional title. You can place your title next to your name in the format "Ahmed Abdullah, FCA." You can include it in your Summary, Education, or Licenses/Certifications sections. If your title is an important qualification in your job search, be sure it appears at the top of your resume.
Including References in Your Resume
You do not have to include references on your resume. Most employers will assume you can provide references if they are requested.
A resume should be as long as needed to list your best and most relevant qualifications for the job you are seeking. For recent graduates or those with only a few years of experience, you should be able to put all your relevant experience on a single page. If you have extensive experience in your field, you may require a two-page resume to list all or your relevant experience. Instead of considering the length of your resume, make sure that it is clear and concise, and that the information is relevant to the position you are seeking. The most important consideration for a resume is not length, but whether it sufficiently describes your best qualifications for the job.
Use standard A4 or letter (8½" x 11") size offset paper. Recruiters handle hundreds of resumes; if yours is on a smaller sheet, it is likely to be lost in the pile, and if it is oversized, it may get crumpled and have trouble fitting in a company's file.
White and ivory are the only Paper colors considered acceptable for resumes and cover letters.
Computers & Word Processing
The most flexible way to type your resume is on a computer or word processor. This allows you to make changes almost instantly, and to store different drafts on disk. Word processing systems also give you many different options such as bold facing for emphasis, different fonts or typefaces and justified margins.
Printing Your Resume
Find the best quality offset printing process available and do not make your copies on a photocopier. Only the personnel office may see the resume you mail; everyone else may see a copy of it. Copies of copies quickly become illegible.
Proofreading is Essential
Mistakes on resumes can be embarrassing and no doubt you are the only one who will lose if there is a mistake. So proofread your resume as carefully as possible and then have a friend do it. Make sure your spelling and grammar are perfect. Don't rely entirely on computer or word-processors built-in spell-check programs, because not all typos are misspellings and a spelling checker is not a substitute for proofreading for your resume. Words spelled correctly can still be used improperly. Bear in mind that a spelling checker cannot flag errors such as "to" for "two" or "bills" for "skills."
Use bullet points in the body of your resume instead of long paragraphs. Resumes are read rather quickly and anything you can do to draw the reader in will bring you one step closer to landing an interview.
Choose easy-to-read fonts and use consistent formatting for headings and bullet points. Also, make sure you leave enough space between each section with boldface or capital lettering. Use bold, italics, and underlining to highlight the most relevant information on your resume. In the same respect, steer clear of flashy formatting or overly creative resumes with unconventional fonts or graphics, unless you are seeking a highly creative position. Keep your resume simple, bold and professional.
Avoid Overuse of Highlighting: Bold / Italics / Underline
Drawing attention to everything is the same as drawing attention to nothing. Use highlighting such as bold, italics, and underline sparingly for maximum effect on specific areas you want to draw attention to and be consistent in your highlighting technique.
The Best Way to Send A Resume
There are several ways to send your resume to an employer: fax, e-mail, regular mail, and express mail. When deciding which way to send your resume, it is always best to follow the instructions of the employer. If not mentioned in a job advertisement, then ask your potential employer which format they prefer, and then follow their instructions. In other cases, here are some things to consider: The advantage of postal mail is that you can ensure your resume will be seen in its best form, properly formatted and printed on quality paper. The advantage of e-mail and fax is that your resume can be seen immediately, usually the same day. Express or Courier mail is probably unnecessary since most resumes are removed from their envelopes before landing on the employer's desk so they won't be impressed by your extra effort.