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10 Tips for Making your Resume Bullet Proof

October 10, 2015

The purpose of a resume is to generate interest in you and get you an interview.  It is not to list every detail of your professional life.  I have read thousands of resumes.  Less is more.  You need to be precise.  If you go to two pages then almost certainly that second page is not only not getting read but most likely will reflect negatively on you by demonstrating you cannot be concise or worse yet you are wasting the recruiters time. 

 

1. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread Again

 

You get one chance to make a first impression. A small error in your resume or cover letter can say to a recruiter that you are sloppy and that you have low attention to detail. Use proofreading tools to help. Grammarly is used by many professional writers to fine-tune their content and eliminate minor grammatical errors.

 

Remember that no spell checker or proofreading tool can spot a factual error. If you say that you graduated on February 30 or you left your last job in 2028, you will look silly. You have to examine your resume in very fine detail before submitting. Ideally, get someone else to take a look at it for you.

 

2. Highlight Your Transferable Skills

 

Employers are looking for specific experience and qualifications, but they are also looking for more general skills like communication, flexibility and teamwork. Your resume should try to highlight these kinds of transferable skills as well as your specific work experience. If you’ve been commended by previous employers for resourcefulness, learning quickly or providing great service, mention this on your resume.

 

3. Put Vital Information near the Top

 

Recruiters will, in general, read the first third of your resume and glance over the rest. They will make then make a snap decision about whether to examine your application in more detail or move onto the next one. That’s why any really important information needs to be near the top.

 

What are the main things that the recruiter will be looking for? Can they easily be seen? Sometimes a vital piece of information may be towards the end, for example, if one of your early jobs contained a very relevant piece of experience. If so, you can add a brief summary near the top mentioning that you have this experience.

 

4. Check Your Resume on Screen and on Paper

 

Most resume submissions are fully electronic these days, so you need to ensure that it’s easy to read on a computer screen. Documents can look different on different computers. Send your resume to a friend and look at it on their computer screen.

 

Your resume might still get printed out and placed on someone’s desk. Print out your own copy before submission and check to make sure that it comes out the way that you had intended, and that it doesn’t exceed the recommended page count.

 

5. Don’t Include Any “Well, Duh” Statements

 

“References available on request.” “Available for immediate interview.” You may have been taught to include these generic phrases, but do they add actually add anything to your resume? For example, recruiters assume that you have references and you will attend an interview.

 

What other generic phrases do you have on your resume? Go through your resume and delete anything that’s obvious. Instead, use that space to offer more detail about yourself and why you’re a great candidate.

 

6. Make Your Resume Readable for Non-Experts  

 

Not everyone who handles your resume will be an expert in your field.  In fact, the first person who sees it will probably be an HR person with no real expertise in your practical field. 

 

Use straightforward language as much as possible.  You can quickly test the readability of your resume by getting a friend or relative to read it and see if they understand it. 

 

Do this even if you are sure that an industry expert will be reading your resume.  People have very little time to read documents like this, and clear, precise English will always be preferred to dense shoptalk. 

 

Zoom in on relevant experience.  Your resume needs to establish you as a candidate with the right set of skills to do the job.  Experience that’s relevant to the job needs to be front and center. 

 

For example, if you’re applying for an IT role, your employment history needs to highlight any IT-related experience you have.  Talk about how you had to use Microsoft Office or a CRM system before you talk about anything else. 

 

Even if the relevant experience was only a small part of a job, you can still highlight it.  Relevant experience is what the recruiter is really interested in, so make sure it is prominent in your resume. 

 

7. Make it clear if you’ve ever been promoted

 

A promotion is worth bragging about as it shows that your old boss really believed in you.  However, the structure of the employment history section can sometimes obscure your job progression. 

 

If you have enough space, it’s okay to list two separate jobs in your employment history – one before your promotion and one after. 

 

If not, list the more senior job and add a bullet point about your promotion.  For example you may want to try, “Hired as a cashier, promoted to duty manager after six months. “

 

8. Write Numbers in the Correct Format

 

Number formatting is a small detail, but small details could mean the difference between success and failure.  The general rule is spelling the numbers one through nine and use numerals for 10 and higher.  When starting a sentence with a number, spell it out.  In a list of numbers, use numerals. 

 

The most important thing is to be consistent.  It looks bad when you mix styles, for example, “I worked 9 to five each day.”

 

9. Make Sure Keywords Appear in Your Resume

 

Your resume will most likely be scanned by a computer before it is seen by a human.  The computer will look through your resume for certain keywords, such as “Excel”, “Manager”, or the name of a particular qualification. 

 

When applying for a job you have to think about how to get through the computer stage.  This means figuring out which key words are required. 

 

Most of the keywords will appear in the job ad itself.  The “Essential Skills” or “Necessary Experience” section is often a list of keywords. 

 

However, you need to insert these naturally.  Your resume will be read by a human at some point, and they need to be able to make sense of it. 

 

Go through your resume and find the best place to place a keyword.  For example, if “Excel” is a keyword and one of the lines in your employment is “used several software systems”, change that to read, “used Excel and several other software systems”.  But also make sure you research which keywords to use before writing your resume. 

 

10. Be Objective about What to Include

 

You may have to cut things from your resume in order to make everything fit, but what should go? 

 

The answer is anything that’s not directly relevant to the job for which you are applying.   That might mean leaving out some information that you’re proud of or that you’d like the recruiter to know. 

 

Be ruthless.  Go through every line and ask, “Is this essential for this application?”  If you can’t be sure that it is 100% essential, consider cutting it out. 

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at (800) 217-7113.

 

God Bless and Good Luck!

 

Platinum Method Coaching .com

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