September has been declared “Update Your Résumé Month” by Career Directors International. When is the last time you updated your résumé or LinkedIn profile?
To get you started, here are three simple but important tips from award-winning résumé writer, and Virtual Résumés owner, Natalie MacLellan.
- Use simple fonts. Your résumé needs to be easy to read. This is no place for cursive, handwriting, or calligraphy fonts. This, of course, does not need to mean “boring.” I use Calibri on 90% of my résumés and mix in Cambria, Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, and Garamond for variety. All are reasonably simple and easy to read. Playing with font size and spacing allows me to create an organized, well-spaced, and attractive résumé.
- Apply an organized, logical layout. This is not the place to be different. Readers expect to find specific information in a certain order. Start with a profile paragraph, then either education (if you are a student or recent graduate) or work experience. Follow up with training, volunteer work, awards, and etc.
Use a simple font and clear headings, selectively applying caps, bold, and italic to break up and organize text. Use bullets to call attention to important points like specific accomplishments. Make sure your choices are consistent. If one section header is in capital letters, centered on the page, then ALL section headers must look like this.
- Highlight your accomplishments, don’t just list your job descriptions. Hiring managers are seeking candidates who can help them solve a problem or satisfy a need within their company. They want to see proof that you can succeed. What have you done already? How have you helped previous employers? The best way to present yourself as a solution to their problems is by sharing details of how you solved similar problems for previous employers.
Stop copying and pasting your job description into your résumé. Anyone can do that. More important than what you were asked to do is what you actually did. There is a difference. You may have been one of 20 widget makers at Company X. What makes you stand out? What did you do, and what was the benefit or result of what you did?
Example: Your job description says: “produce widgets.” Your competition’s résumé says: “Produced widgets.” Your standout résumé says: “Produced widgets 20% faster than baseline, increasing overall productivity and decreasing cost per unit by $0.25.”
Good luck – we’ll have more résumé writing tips throughout September.