Some Tips for Constructing an Appealing Resume: Part 1

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By: Marie Donlon

Before you meet with a prospective employer face to face, your first introduction to them is through your resume. A well-constructed resume can get you the interview; a poorly-constructed one will get your resume tossed in the recycle bin. So how do you craft a resume that is both eye-catching and impressive? Here are some tips:

Format

Like any document you are submitting for review, your resume should be neat, organized and easy to read. Use a font that is neither distracting nor hard on the eyes (the standard Times New Roman works in most instances). Once you have decided on a font, make sure that it is used consistently throughout the document. Do not use a lot of stylistic features such as bold or italic font unless you are attempting to highlight something specific.

Instead of dense paragraphs highlighting your career journey with possibly unnecessary details, consider using concise bullets instead that serve to give a quick but detailed overview of your past experiences. However, make sure to avoid using too many bullets. Most resume writing services agree that keeping the bullet count to five or six should be sufficient.

Although you want your resume to stand out, avoid embellishments such as different color paper or large artistic images. They will only distract from the substance of your experience.

With so many different schools of thought concerning how many pages a resume should be, traditional guidelines recommend limiting your information to one page (though two pages are also permissible these days). The philosophy behind limiting the page number has to do with capturing the attention of the employer or hiring manager by including everything on one page to appeal to that person’s limited attention span.

Continue to list your work experience in reverse chronological order; however, locate your education information below your work history. It used to be that, especially for recent graduates, the education section appeared at the top of the resume and then it was relocated after they had a handful of years of work experience under their belt. This rule no longer holds, and many resume-writing services recommend moving that section below work history and above skills, no matter how recently you completed your degree.

Although there are a number of resume templates out there, try avoiding these as much as possible. While it is helpful to have something to use as a model for your own work, avoid commonly-used templates that might resemble another person’s resume. Having too many look-alikes in one pile may lead the hiring manager to overlook some.

Want to keep your resume to one page and don’t know what to drop? Do not include the lines that are commonly added to the end of most resumes. Promptly delete phrases such as “Available for an interview,” or “References available upon request.” This information is understood and, consequently, extremely unnecessary.

Content

The content of your resume should reflect all of the information one would expect from a resume, including education, skills, work history, etc.

That being said, hiring managers don’t want to be handed a novella of information. Instead, limit the amount of detail describing your work history. One sure-fire way to do this is to customize your resume to the specific employer. If you are in the midst of an aggressive job search, this might sound exhausting and time-consuming. However, this step is necessary if you want to demonstrate that you are meant for the position being advertised. Thus, leave out descriptions about previous jobs that can’t be tied to the position you are applying for. You also might want to avoid overusing excessive amounts of industry jargon.

Make sure to describe in enough detail what you did in your previous position. For instance, you weren’t simply a server at Applebee’s, but instead you oversaw the timely delivery of food while operating in a team setting. Make sure to include specific examples of how you accomplished your job, avoiding vague descriptions.

Use action verbs in your bulleted items discussing your previous jobs. Don’t simply list “responsible for this, responsible for that.” Instead, grab the attention of the reader by using phrases such as: accounted for, discussed, delivered, etc.” Also try to avoid pronouns such as I or me.

What were some of your achievements at your former job? If you had any, make sure to include them here.

Likewise, try to flesh these accomplishments out by including any numbers that would help make the accomplishments measurable ones. For instance, you might write that you improved quality by 20 percent or increased production by 15 percent.

Avoid including information that might hint at your religion, political affiliation or sexual orientation. You don’t want the details of your personal life to stand in the way of getting your dream job. Likewise, it is also good practice to avoid listing hobbies or other information that is personal in nature on your resume.

Similarly, do not include a headshot with your resume, unless of course you are auditioning for something. How you look should have no bearing on how you work.

Check back next week for Tips Constructing An Appealing Resume: Part 2.