You Never Have a Second Chance to Make a Good First Impression!
You Never Have a Second Chance to make a Good First Impression! Many of you probably heard that from one of your parents over the years or while growing up. When you are applying for a job online your resume is the first impression an organization will have of you. Over the years, I have viewed hundreds of thousands of resumes and am still amazed at the mistakes people make. Your resume needs to be formatted correctly, visually appealing, accurate, and contain the pieces of information the employer is looking for.
Is it visually appealing? Let’s start with the visual aspect. Is your font and font size consistent? That doesn’t mean you don’t have to use different fonts or different sizes, but they need to be consistent. For example, if your position titles are in Arial and the description of job duties in Calibri that is ok if all your position titles are in Arial. I have seen resumes where the font and size jump all over the page. It makes the reader wonder whether you pay attention to detail.
Always use standard fonts. Graphic artists and candidates in artistic professions can get away with funky fonts, you can’t.
And remember when you are uploading your resume into a resume parsing system (which is usually what you have to do when you apply online), stylistic items like underlines, columns, and graphics can confuse the system. You can always have one Word resume for uploading and a more visually appealing one for the job interview. PDF resumes do not always upload correctly.
Complete contact information. I think it is a good idea to add your LinkedIn address (if your LinkedIn is professional, complete and a good picture – not a selfie you took in the car). Also, a common form of email is to use a name and your birth year. If I see an email address that says Katie1955@aol.com I can make a good guess that Katie is 63 years old. Also, Katie isn’t “with-it” since she is still using AOL. Use Gmail and make it professional. Don’t let hiring managers make assumptions based on your email address. Email addresses should not be “cute”. Nor should your cell phone message.
Is it tailored to the position? Employers notice whether you take the time to customize your career objective to the position. When searching for resumes, employers often check to see if the keywords or skills in the ad are listed on your resume or included in the career objective. It is ok to have more than one resume highlighting the different areas of your background if it is truthful.
Stay away from the obvious. So many resumes have skills or words that are overused. For example, many resumes list skills in the position objective or in a summary such as ‘customer service’ (who says they are not good at customer service?), ‘team player’ (I’ve never seen a resume that says, “I don’t want to work with people), ‘strategic thinker’, ‘great communicator’ and on and on ad nauseum.
Don’t forget a skills section. Many resumes do not include a technical skills section. Often, human resource managers will search resumes based on a single skill like Excel. If you leave that off your resume, you hurt your chances. If you are proficient in a technical skill list it -- especially if it is not a widely used program. I always recommend as well if you are proficient in Microsoft Office you list the specific programs – for example: Microsoft Office including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access. That way if they search for Microsoft Office or Excel, you’re covered.
Education. If you have been out of college for more than ten years, I would drop off the dates of attendance or year of a degree. Again, based on when you graduated hiring managers can make assumptions about your age. Not always, but most of the time.
And finally, spell check isn’t your friend. I see many resumes where the candidate says they are a manger -- not a manager. Mangers are found in barns. Managers are found in companies. A good rule of thumb is to read your resume backward – you can catch a lot of mistakes that way.