You see a job posting.  You quickly send off your résumé, sit back and wait for the call that is sure to come.  Instead you hear nothing; silence or worse the annoying sound of a lone cricket.  Sound familiar?

A résumé is an employer’s first impression of you as a candidate.  Its purpose is to get your foot in the door for a person-to-person interview.  And once in the door, it is all up to you and your personality.  Most surveys indicate that 40% of the decision to hire a person is based on their personality and how they come across and interact during the interview, but first, you have to get in front of your prospective employer.

Why is there so much emphasis on the résumé?  In today’s economy, the competition for a job is tough.  No doubt about that.  A prospective employer sometimes receives hundreds of inquiries and résumé documents.  The prospective hiring manager now has more work on their plate than ever before.  They view the résumé as their best tool to pre-screen and reduce the time it takes to hire a person; phone screening, in-person interviews and reference checking is very time consuming.  So, the less time they spend on the hiring process the more of their core job duties and running their organization they can accomplish.  Thus, the more your résumé stands out and is tailored to the job requirements, the better your chance for securing an opportunity to speak and interview with the hiring manager.  And that’s a big Yahtzee!!

Here are some things to think about when constructing your résumé.

  • Know Your Audience – Tailor your résumé to the needs of the employer.  This may mean that you have more than one formatted résumé to submit to different employers.
  • The Objective – Most employers do not care about your objective.  What the employer does care about is his, so I’d get rid of it.  If you are going to use an objective at the beginning of your résumé, keep it generic enough so that you do not exclude yourself as a candidate from other positions within the company.
  • Skills– Organize your résumé carefully and list your skills that match the position.  Use bullet points to emphasize key points.  The easier it is to absorb, the more likely your audience is to read it.  List goals achieved and what role you played on the team.  Stories sell.  Numbers, statistics and percentages get attention if you use a bold type; Increased profit by 28% or Came in under budget by 30%.  Fuzzy key words and phrases should be avoided. These include customer-oriented, excellent communication skills, and creative. These words lack meaning and do absolutely nothing to help you get an interview.  Use words that refer to titles; Customer Service, Controller, Manager, Accountant.
  • History – Make sure the dates line up and are easy to follow.
  • Length – Keep your résumé limited to one page.  Descriptive words will keep your résumé brief.  If you have extensive work experience, technical skills or education, it may require a 2-page résumé, but keep the key skills and selling points on the first page.
  • Job Transition – Don’t explain why you left each company, but be prepared to answer if the interviewer asks.
  • Salary – Don’t put salary requirements on your résumé.  However, if you are screening companies this way, or a company asks for this information, put it in a cover letter.
  • Paper – Unless you are trying to obtain a position in creative advertising or public relations, stick to white, light beige, bone or grey paper.

Remember, the overriding rule in résumé writing is to keep it simple enough to secure the interview.  Once you get there, you can sell yourself.

Getting an interview is hard work.  No one likes to be rejected, but the sooner you face this reality the sooner you will be able to find a job.  Don’t be shy about picking up the phone and calling the employer.  Sometimes, you have to take that risk and face the possibility of someone telling you what you don’t want to hear; no, but nothing ventured nothing gained.  Get over it or stay at home.

Learn more about writing a résumé and download our Résumé Tips brochure.

Learn about what Key Words to use on your résumé?