There is a mind-boggling amount of information available on what to do to make your Resume THE Resume that earns an interview – which is, after all, the real purpose of Resumes. Some of that advice is excellent, and some of it is not so excellent. How can you tell what is going to work and what is not? Here are three easy but very three basic rules worth following.
1. Keep it professional
2. Keep it clean
3. Keep it pertinent
Let’s start with No. 1. Keep it professional
What does that mean? Well, it doesn’t mean I’m only talking to the college or university educated. Whatever you do, if you are skilled, unskilled or highly lettered. Your Resume should always be professional. Why? Because it is a document that is selling you: your skills, your abilities, your experience, your worth to this new company. This is a professional transaction regardless of what the job is and the employer will be on the lookout for the best person for the job. Stand out by being professional in your presentation both on paper and in person – this includes NOT using coloured or fancy paper. Crisp white paper, dark clear ink.
Now, let’s look at No. 2. Keep it clean.
I’m not talking about obscenities or suggestive photos. Nor am I saying make sure there are no blobs, fingermarks, smudges etc on the paper – all that is a given! What I’m saying is the overall layout of your Resume must be clean – to the eye. It must be easy to read, easy to run an eye down, even inviting.
First, ignore the templates available on your Word program or online, the majority of which come with a ready-made table. These are complicated to use unless you are an expert in tables. You’d be better using columns – but I’m not recommending them either. Tables, and columns, get clunky and awkward and take quite a bit of work to have everything neatly encapsulated and all the relevant information together. And, let’s face it, unless you are applying for a job that involves the daily compilation of tables, no-one is impressed by tables.
Go with headings, paragraphs and bullet points. The first person to read your Resume will most likely peruse it, searching for highlights and pertinent abilities and experience. If they receive a pile of Resumes, and they usually do, they will want to create a shortlist. Only then will they read your Resume closely, probably intending to pare that shortlist even further before deciding who to interview.
Make it clear and obvious that you have what they are looking for. This means carefully reading their advertisement to ensure you are indicating that you have what they are looking for.
And, finally, No. 3. Keep it pertinent.
That means exactly what it says. Don’t fill up your Resume with miscellaneous, unrelated or personal information. No-one has time to read it, and less inclination. Putting all your social activities just isn’t pertinent – unless it is in some way related to the tasks you will undertake in the job. Don’t include every job you’ve done since the year dot – unless it is pertinent. And the further back you go, the less information you include – unless that is the job that is pertinent. There is plenty of time to share miscellaneous information once you have the job, or at interview if they ask.
So, remember, Professional, Clean, Pertinent. Weigh up all advice with these three basic rules in mind and you are well on the way to creating just the right Resume to earn you an interview.