Even though the Internet is changing a lot about the way we look for jobs, the reality is that many hiring managers still look at resumes. Your resume might be in digital format, but it's still a resume, and writing a great resume to use for your next job search will help you hopefully land an interview. While you still need to be qualified for the job, a well written resume can get your foot in the door.
Where Should You Keep Your Resume?
First of all, it's worth noting that your resume might need to be available in different formats. If you have a LinkedIn profile, then you probably have filled out a lot of the information you use on a resume. This can be an advantage as you move forward with creating a resume. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and filled in, since someone might check your profile before asking for a more formal resume.
Additionally, in this digital world, you might need to keep your resume online as well. If you have a professional website, you can create a page labeled “resume” and use that for online hiring managers who just want a link to your online resume.
Finally, be sure that you have a file saved that can be used as a “hardcopy” resume. Save your resume as a Word document that you can print out if you need to bring a resume to your interview. You should also be able to save your resume as a PDF, just in case you are asked to email it to a potential employer. Just make sure you save a template in Word format so that you can continue to tweak and tailor your resume as needed.
Resume Keywords and Tailoring
These days, you need to make sure that your resume describes you as the ideal candidate for a particular job. Read the job description so that you know what to emphasize as you create a resume. Use keywords so that a hiring manager (or a software program) can quickly pick out the cues that you are right for a position.
You might need to move certain items around to highlight different aspects of your career or education, depending on the job requirements. Also, remember to start your bulleted points with action words. Rather than saying something like, “I was responsible for creating pilot programs,” write something like, “Created several pilot programs that were eventually picked up.”
When you can start with action words that show your accomplishments, it's easier to naturally incorporate keywords and focus on the most relevant items.
More General Resume Writing Tips
If you have at least five years of relevant experience, put it first on your resume. If it’s related to the job you're seeking, put your most recent job first and use reverse chronological order from there. If you’ve just recently graduated and have only a couple years experience, place your education before the experience. This way you will attract the reader with your most important information first. When writing about previous jobs, or accomplishments at your current job, use past tense. Only use present tense when discussing your current job duties or hobbies (if you must have them on your resume).
Your resume should be one to two pages long. If you do need to have a two-page resume, make sure the most important facts are on the front page so that you grab the reader’s attention. Many hiring managers stop reading after a few seconds, and probably won't make it to the second page. You need to impress immediately.
Make your resume easy to read by using white space. You don’t want to cram too much text onto one page. If your resume looks a little heavy on text consider using that second page, or better yet, remove some of the nonessential information like unrelated jobs and hobbies. You don't need to include everything on your resume. If you've had a long career with a lot of success, only include the most relevant information that shows you in your best light.
Have someone look over your resume. Not only can fresh eyes proofread it for spelling and grammatical errors, but they can also offer an opinion of the overall look of your resume. It might even be worth to pay a resume professional for tips on making improvements, or working with a career coach.
Include a cover letter with your resume that specifically speaks to the job posting that you’re applying for. Do not include references with your resume; bring them with you and provide them after a successful interview. In some cases, you might be asked to provide references before the interview. Include these as a separate page, rather than as part of your resume or cover letter. You also shouldn't put “references available upon request” on your resume since it’s expected that you’ll have them available.
While it might take some time to perfect it, having an impressive resume just might lead to getting the job you want.