1. Font choice. Don’t use a font that invokes humor or “dares to be different”. Keep it simple. Stick with aerial (or times new roman if you must). Sans serif fonts are generally easier to read in electronic and printed form.
2. Use bullet points…sparingly. Do not go to extremes. Avoid crafting a resume with only bullets or with only narrative text. A blended approach is preferred. A few sentences to describe each position, with 3-5 bullet points describing your achievements or accomplishments at each job is a nice balance.
3. Convert the resume to PDF. PDF is a gift to job seekers. Converting your word processed resume to PDF allows you to control exactly what I see. Uploading a word document to our HR system means you are taking a risk that my settings might skew your resume in some way, making the document more difficult to read. Recent versions of word allow a simple conversion to PDF through the “save as” function. If your word processor does not include this functionality, try an online conversion. Just search for “PDF converter” in the search engine of your choice!
4. Create a career management document. If you’re a working professional with more than a few years of workplace experience, I recommend not having only one resume. Instead, create a “career management document” that you update quarterly with your workplace achievements and accomplishments. Naturally, this document will grow over time to be fairly sizable. Then, when you see a position you are interested in, pull the specific accomplishments that relate to the job requirements over into a resume. In this way, you are sure your resume is custom built for the task at hand, winning you that specific job.
5. Get with the 21st century. Lose the AOL e-mail address. It makes you look like you’re stuck in yesterday’s technology.
6. Create a professional e-mail address. Ensure the first part of your e-mail address is “flattering”. You don’t want to submit a resume that with an e-mail address of email@example.com. Every little thing matters. Pay attention to the details.
7. If you’re going to include a cover letter, make it a killer. In my view, cover letters are not a requirement in this day and age. I just eliminated 90% of the resumes I received for this latest job opening without reading a single cover letter. That said, if you are going to go to the trouble of including one, make sure it is terrific. Customize it to me, to my company and to my job. Nothing will put you in my dog house faster than being careless and uploading a cover letter addressed to another company because you were resume spamming every job you could find.
8. Find a trusted third party to give you feedback. Creating a resume is a difficult thing to do well, partly because we are so emotionally attached to the thing. This one sheet of paper is supposed to represent your professional capabilities. It is not a facsimile of you as a person. Family members don’t count, because they are just as invested in your success as you are. Find a mentor or work colleague you trust to review the document (preferably someone who has hired more than a handful of people), and be prepared to act on the feedback you receive.