It only takes 6 seconds for someone to decide to if they're interested in reading your resume.
Usually my content is geared more towards creatives who want to run their own business, but it's certainly not for everyone. If you're sticking to a 9 to 5 (or other job where you have an employer), you've probably experienced the stress and exhilaration of a job search. In your job search, it's all about the first impression: which means that it's all about your resume.
I know all about job searching: I applied for jobs for nine months before I found my first full time job (and it wasn't even in my field of education) and then again for six months when my husband moved to Richmond before I decided to start Lemon and the Sea. It's frustrating, never ending, and totally discouraging when you send in a resume and never receive a response or, even worse, when you go to an interview and then never hear back. (Let me get up on my soapbox for a moment here: if you run a business or conduct interviews, please have the courtesy to email everyone you take the time to interview, even if you decide not to offer them the job. It doesn't take much time to say 'thanks for coming in, but we've decided to hire someone else,' and it means that you won't have people waiting around, hoping and praying for the job, endlessly. Plus, you'll avoid having those people follow up multiple times. Just do it. It's totally devastating to get excited for a job and think that the interview went well and then never hear anything about what happened. Soapbox over. Thanks for bearing with me there.)
If you're getting calls and interviews, you're on the right track with your resume. It takes time, but you will find the right job.
If you're frustrated in your job search or don't know where to start with your resume, check out these tips. (And there are three resume templates you can download for FREE at the end of this post!)
What you need to include on your resume:
Advice on what you need on your resume varies. There are still some people who say to include an objective, but most people have taken this off theirs (I mean, isn't your objective to get the job?) There are still some things that you need to include if you want to be considered:
- Your name and contact information: Make sure to include a phone number, email address, and website if you have one.
- Previous work experience: You want to choose relevant experience, which means that you're joining to have to update your resume depending on the job you're applying for. Make sure the description includes the results of what you did, not just generic language.
- Skills: Include any skills that are relevant to the job, but don't leave off some extras. You never know what will interest the person reviewing your resume.
- Awards: This is the place to include accomplishments, achievements, and awards you've received for your work. This can really help you stand out.
- Education: Definitely include any college experience (you don't need to include your high school unless you have nothing else), but also include other certifications, degrees, and training programs you've participated in.
What you can do to stand out:
Remember that pink (and scented) resume Elle Woods gives to her professor in Legally Blonde (or am I the only one who has seen that movie too many times to count. Actually, now I want to watch it again)? It may not be the best example of standing out, but it certainly made an impression. You need to do the same with your resume (although you probably want to avoid spraying it with perfume).
- Add links: You can link to websites you've been featured on, articles you've written, or sites displaying your work. This shows not only what you can do, but also that other people recognize your talent too.
- Use some color: Be sparing here, but if you're in a creative field, adding a little color can help your resume pop. Stick with one color as an accent and make sure it looks good both online and in print. Also, check to see what it looks like if your resume is printed in gray scale since most offices don't use color printers.
- Pick a font: Keep it clean and simple, but don't think you have to stick to Times New Roman.
- Add a header: You can add your title as a header under your name to stand out.
- Create info-graphics: If you're applying for a design job, try creating info-graphics to show off your design skills and your job qualifications. Check out Pinterest for some great examples of this.
Some last tips:
- Consider your field and the company you're applying to before adding color or other non-traditional sections to your resume. While design firms and small companies may appreciate these things, an accounting firm probably won't.
- Tailor your resume to each job. Taking the time to add or remove jobs and edit your content based on the job you're applying for will make a big difference and can help you get an interview.
- Proofread! Your resume is only one or two pages, so spelling and grammatical mistakes are going to reflect badly on you. Have someone you trust look over your resume (and cover letter, if you're writing one) before you submit it.