Creating an effective resume can be difficult for the inexperienced writer. But if you want to give it a try on your own anyway, here are a few resume writing tips and traps to consider.
Do: Think About Your Audience
When writing a resume, too many candidates think in simple terms of what tasks they performed. However, it is important to think about your resume from a strategic perspective before you write the first word. So it does not matter if you like what you put on the resume. The real question is whether those reading your resume are impressed.
So who will read my resume you ask? There are two distinct groups that you need to keep in mind: the hiring manager and the HR representative. They want to know who you worked for, what positions you have held, whether you have any employment gaps or are a frequent job hopper, and what you have accomplished.
Don’t: Use an Objective Sentence
Most candidates know that you are supposed to communicate your job objective into a resume. However, most try to get fancy by writing an objective phrase or sentence that says something like, “To utilize my skills, education, and experience for a growth-oriented company.” Now what does that really mean? It certainly does not tell a prospective employer what type of position you want. It tells me that you will take any job for any company that is growing, and thus not laying off it’s employees. That’s not a strong or confident statement. Just list your objective in the form of a title or headline. Short and simple, but effective.
Do: Include a Keywords List
Although hiring managers do not find a lot of value in a keywords list, because they are relatively meaningless, they are essential for the human resource folks, who perform word searches to generate batches of candidates for pre-screening and who compare keywords on the resume with some of the major requirements and preferences on the hiring document. Don’t overwhelm the reader by listing dozens of keywords. Simply include anywhere from eight to fifteen of the terms that fit both you and the language used in the position posting.
Don’t: Overuse Bullet Points
Much of the material on the market touts the effectiveness of a bulleted format in a resume. This is largely true. However, many people end up burying some of their key highlights because they list every single thought next to a bullet. Make sure you put your basic job duties in paragraph-style text so that you can reserve the bullets for the items you want to showcase like cost-savings initiatives, sales results, performance metrics, and key projects managed.
Following these do’s and don’ts will help improve the look, readability, and impact that your resume has with both HR reps and hiring managers.
So who am I anyway? Why do I think my advice is so valuable?
My name is Stephen Van Vreede. My company is called No Stone Unturned, and I have spent 15 years on both sides of the corporate hiring experience.
The short story is that I have an MBA in Marketing from Villanova University and a dual B.S. degree in Finance & Logistics from the University of Maryland. I am a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) and a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC). As I mentioned, I paid my dues in the corporate world eventually running a large-scale call center for a major truck rental company, and I have spent the past 7 years with No Stone Unturned, assisting job seekers in achieving their goals.
In February 2009, I launched a new group job hunting networking site: NoddlePlace.com. It is absolutely FREE to join, and you have access to everything on the site. Come check it out at NoddlePlace. You can also follow me on Twitter.