It’s easy to get stuck on tactical questions when you create your resume. I’ve known friends and colleagues to agonize about whether or not to include an objective statement, add college graduation dates, or mention hobbies.
How you organize your resume and what you say about yourself matters a great deal, especially if you face challenges like being a worker older than 50 or have been out of work for a prolonged period of time. You may even want to hire an expert to help you write your resume.
No matter what tactics you use, at Prichard Communications and other firms where I’ve hired people I’ve found that the applications of successful candidates share common characteristics. Here are four steps I see applicants take to write resumes that employers love.
Show, don’t tell
Most people write a resume that reads like a job description. This tells a hiring manager about your assigned duties, but says nothing about the results you produced. Instead of a laundry list of responsibilities, show an employer what you did by talking about your key accomplishments.
Update your resume for every job
Thanks to the internet, a job opening today can attract hundreds of applications. To stand out, you need to revise your resume to match your accomplishments and skills for every job posting. Another reason to do this: many companies in Portland use machines that scan resumes for keywords. Materials missing the relevant phrases never make it to human reviewers.
Read your application materials out loud
Ignoring a typo or making an error in grammar or punctuation moves your resume straight to the rejected pile. To catch those mistakes, and improve your writing, read your material out loud. Your ear is the best editor of all.
Keep it simple
Good resumes adopt plain and simple design principles. Use classic fonts like Helvetica or Times Roman for body copy, and apply bold and italic with restraint. Boxes, screens, and other flashy tricks can distract readers and confuse automated scanners.
Finally, remember that even an excellent resume needs a great cover letter. Use the cover letter to show an employer what you can do in the advertised job. Show the hiring committee you understand its problems and explain how you can solve them.