Today's job market requires a highly effective résumé to capture the employer's attention. Based on a national survey I conducted of 600 hiring managers, here are 21 ways to help you improve your online résumé.
1. Content! Keywords!
Since most employers sort résumés electronically, keywords and specifics that demonstrate your abilities, your accomplishments and your past experiences are crucial to getting their attention.
2. Market Yourself Well
Begin with a summary of qualifications section that encapsulates your most marketable skills and experience into four to six sentences.
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3. Demonstrate Results
Employers like proof that you can do the job. Note the action performed and conclude with the achieved result, noting how your employer benefited. Use numbers and percentages to show how money or time was saved. Example: Coordinated the annual conference, adding new speakers and innovative programs, which resulted in a 17 percent increase in attendance and an 18 percent increase in revenues.
4. Be Brief and Concise
One page -- short and to the point works best. Be a skillful editor, deleting the portions which are not relevant or least helpful to your securing a particular position. Emphasize your most recent experience -- the last five to seven years. Cover in detail the major job duties performed.
5. Be Targeted
Focus every résumé to the job title being applied for. It's much more effective to create a different résumé for each job title (i.e., one résumé for "Trainer," another for "Program Director") and incorporate only the information pertinent to doing that job.
6. Visually Appealing
The formatting of an online résumé must be kept readable, sharp and professional. Make sure sentences are concise and that there is adequate white space between points. Career Builder's online résumé posting program eliminates italics, bold formatting and fancy fonts. Stick to Times Roman or Arial fonts and use 12 - 14 point size. Use bullets to emphasize important points.
7. Be Clear
No vague generalities. Say exactly what you mean, using the smallest number of words to make the point.
8. Be Accurate
State your skills, qualifications and experience as positively as possible without exaggerating or misstating the truth. If your job responsibilities are not adequately described by your job title, indicate your abilities with appropriate terms (i.e. Events Coordinator, instead of Staff Coordinator). List job titles, employers and dates/years of employment.
9. Use Action Verbs
Start each sentence with a descriptive action verb — such as established, managed or organized. They add power to your sentences. And, never use “I” on the résumé, only short impact sentences. Example: Designed the company’s new marketing flyer.
10. Be Complete
Spell out names of schools, cities, abbreviations and titles completely, since employers may not recognize abbreviations or acronyms.
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11. Make Points Quickly
Complete sentences are not necessary in résumé writing; it is better to use simple descriptive statements to make a point. Be sure any technical terms are understandable to non-technical personnel.
12. Justify Experience
In all your sentences, use past tense words since they imply that you "have done it" before. This reassures employers you can do it for them.
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13. Be Perfect
The résumé you send out must be flawless. No mistakes or typos, especially in e-mails. Typos are HR manager’s chief complaint and they insist they won’t hire offenders.
14. Proofread Carefully
Don't trust computer spell checkers. Read every word out loud to be sure it is correct.
15. Make it Readable
A crammed, cramped résumé often goes unread. Make deletions wherever necessary to achieve a readable product. Use white space, highlight key points with bullets and eliminate redundancies.
16. Avoid Graphics
Complex designs are distracting to the reader. Lines, boxes, shadings, fancy borders or clipart should be avoided as they cause major errors when sent electronically.
17. Don't Include Personal Statistics
It is no longer considered professional or wise to include information about marital status, gender, height, weight, health or to insert a picture on your résumé.
18. No Tag Lines
Employers know you'll provide references if they request them, therefore it is not necessary to put "References upon request" at the end of your résumé.
19. Don't Advertise Negative Information
The résumé is the wrong place to advertise that you were laid off, fired or had an extended illness. Never state why you left a position; simply list the dates of employment. Don’t mention what salary you want to receive.
20. Be Current
Update information every six months. Keep a current résumé on CareerBuilder.com and create a job alert to have the latest job postings e-mailed to you daily.
21. Final Test
Does your résumé get results? Does your résumé clearly and quickly communicate to employers that you can do the job? Do your strengths come across? Does everything support the job you are targeting? Should anything be removed? Are employers calling? If not, rework, get professional help or check out several résumé books to help you improve yours.
Robin Ryan has appeared on the Dr. Phil Show, Oprah, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CNN, CNBC and is considered America’s top career coach. She is the best-selling author of: "60 Seconds & You're Hired!;" "Winning Resumés;" "Winning Cover Letters" and "What to Do with the Rest of Your Life." She's the creator of the highly acclaimed audio training program Interview Advantage and The DreamMaker. To purchase her books and audio training programs go to www.robinryan.com. To contact Robin, e-mail RobinRyan@aol.com or call 425-226-0414.