According to a recent survey from employment site CareerBuilder, nearly 1 in 5 employees (about 21 percent of the workforce) are planning to leave their current employers. If you’re in this group, it’s time to dust off the résumé and update it to land a job interview. Here are 10 tips to get your résumé to the top of the pile.
1. Components of your résumé may vary, but should include:
Personal contact information in the heading; if you are submitting your résumé to an online job board, you may want to omit your home address.
An objective or summary of skills at the beginning, or both.
An education section. You may want to highlight any training if you are switching to a new field.
Relevant professional experience.
Optional: affiliations, awards or publications as they relate to the position for which you are applying.
2. Be both a generalist and a specialist.
You will want to have a generic résumé that you can post widely on job boards, as well as a more tailored one for each individual job opening.
3. Your education does not always need to go at the end.
Especially if you are a career changer and have recent education or training in a new professional area, you should list these new skills closer to the top of the résumé.
4. Use your real estate wisely.
Rather than use a generic heading like “Summary of Skills” or “Objective,” use that space to highlight your particular area of skill. Examples: Marketing and team leadership expertise, or English as a Second Language educational professional.
5. Proofread, proofread and proofread some more.
6. Use verbs and check their tenses.
Get away from the overused “managed” or “developed.” Use a thesaurus or search online, such as Boston College’s Resume Power Verb. When describing your current position, use the verb’s present tense (“manage a team of 12,” “coordinate weekly newsletter preparation”). If you are describing a previous position, use the past tense (“managed a team of 12,” “coordinated weekly newsletter preparation”).
7. Balance relevance and chronology.
You want your most relevant experience to jump out at your future employer. Link your relevant experience and skills in reverse chronological experience. Rather than labeling your relevant experience as “Relevant Experience,” use “Construction and Sustainable Design Experience,” and list the positions (paid or unpaid) in reverse chronological order. Under each job or role, use a maximum of six bullet points to describe the relevant experience.
8. Quantify whenever possible.
Employers need to be able to translate your skills to the size of their operation. Try to quantify values whenever you can; i.e, “Managed 15 team members on company move,” “Saved employer $100,000 over three years,” “Built and fostered relationships with 20-plus community partners, contributing to more than $500,000 of growth.”
9. More is not necessarily more.
Most modern résumés can be contained to one page, though that may be difficult if it means paring down your extensive experience. Remember that you are focusing on relevant experience, so you do not need to include every paid or unpaid position that you have held. Challenge yourself to create a one-page document. If you absolutely feel like you need a second page, make sure you are using that space wisely, knowing that a possible employer may not pay much attention to the second page. Three-page résumés are generally reserved for academic CVs.
10. Use their language.
Match the language you use to describe your skills and experience to mirror the job posting. If you are sending in your résumé without a particular vacancy, pull this language from the company’s website or other publications that demonstrate the company’s philosophy, goals, challenges and overall personality. Matching language is also helpful if you’ll be submitting your résumé to a database that uses scanning.