Monday, May 5, 2014

Get your foot in the door -- create a well-crafted resume

I have seen a lot of resumes throughout my career. Very few I would consider excellent, a majority could be classified as average, and some were just really bad!

That's easy for me to say, being on the other side of the hiring process, right? Maybe so, but the fact of the matter is creating a marketable resume doesn’t have to be difficult.

It is important to have a polished and professional resume in order to land an interview. The first (and possibly only) opportunity you may have to make an impression on a potential employer is your resume. So why would you not take the time and effort to carefully create the “image” of you that you want them to see on paper?

I know well-crafted resumes can take time and effort. There’s plenty to consider in creating resumes, from the format, to wording, different sections, content, font and length. I have been asked time after time what I think a resume should look like, and there’s really not any specific format I can give or blueprint for how exactly a resume should look. However, there are a few standard items I am always looking for with each resume I review.

I’ll be honest – visually appealing resumes make an impact. Think about it this way – what type of commercial has a bigger impact on you as a consumer – the 30-second local commercial promoting the sale of the century or a 30-second commercial during the SuperBowl. The answer should be the 30 second SuperBowl commercial. Granted, these commercials are created by marketing geniuses with marketing budget over what an average employee’s salary would be, but the fact of the matter is they are created to make an impact and do. Shouldn’t your resume be the same?

Aside from being visually appealing, format is always important. Streamlining your sections, subsections and bullet points, to name a few items, it makes a difference. Resumes that are inconsistent in formatting – dashes in some areas, plain text here and there, bolded text in some headings but not all, are easily put to the side and may never get a second look.

Keep in mind that over-formatting can have the same impact. So keep it simple.

Content is also crucial in a resume. I suggest having sections for a professional objective, education/training/certifications, professional experience, publications/presentations/speaking engagements, and extracurricular involvement/volunteer efforts/community service. You can always include a section with some of your highlighted skills, but if they are outlined in your professional experience, I wouldn’t double state your skills.

References aren’t crucial on a resume and can be sent as a separate attachment.

It’s important to carefully plan out what you want to say in each of these sections – and make it so the potential employer can easily review the information you are relaying. If you are too lengthy in your content – potential employers can get lost in the sea of information you are providing.

It’s also crucial to make sure you proofread. Well-crafted resumes loaded with typos will be lucky if they make it past a first review. Potential employers view this factor alone very seriously. If a candidate did not take the time to review and proofread his or her resume, then what should be expected when it comes to fulfilling job duties? Will there be time, care and attention put into work? Hard to answer yes looking at a resume from a candidate who hasn’t taken the time to sort out misspellings and grammatical errors.

While there is no magic formula for creating the perfect resume, it is important to create and maintain one that is polished and professional. It is likely to decide whether you get an interview, so take it seriously. If you need help getting a start, there are great resources available, literally at your fingertips.
Need some direction? My laptop is always open!

Monica Bitrick is an independent human resources consultant who lives and works in Idaho Falls.