Are you looking for your first great job or switching gears for better opportunities? There’s one secret to an amazing career: sell yourself. Now, wait—get your mind out of the gutter! Sell yourself with your resume. Your resume is a potential employer’s first look into what kind of employee you’re going to be. Your resume doesn’t just give important information to the HR department based on what’s written—your resume also gives crucial details in the way it is presented, organized, and how enthusiastically you “sell yourself.” So what goes into a stellar resume? Here are a few points to get you started:
1. Use a Common Format
A quick and easy online search will help you identify different resume formats. Although creativity is a great selling point, building your resume is not an opportunity to get too creative or artistic with the format. While there are exemptions, sticking to the accepted resume formats is not a bad plan. In general, HR professionals like things to be by the book—so if they see a non-traditional resume (with six funky fonts or sparkling embellishments), it can be a potential turn off. Using a common format also helps a future employer to get through your information more quickly, which is good for you.
At the end of the day, knowing your audience is your best bet. If the position calls for creativity, then showcase your creative talents on your resume without sacrificing substance. If the position tends to be more conservative, then the traditional route for your is the way to go.
2. Beef it Up
It doesn’t mean that you’re supposed to lie about what’s written your resume. Rather, your accomplishments must boost your credibility. How? Show—don’t tell: If you’re a “Sales Whiz,” provide actual revenue figures that are associated with your sales initiatives! Any previous job responsibility can be a selling point that may bring you closer to your desired position. Don’t be afraid to include even the smallest job responsibility, because you never know exactly what your new employer is looking for.
Many people also fail to realize that an entirely different set of skills and qualifications that are related to personal lives and hobbies can really increase their visibility to a new employer. Are you a Little League coach for your kids’ team? Incorporate this detail, since it shows leadership abilities—even the ability to work with kids! These are marketable skills too… If you’re good at something, put it on the resume and make it sound like an aspect that the employer needs on his team. Writing creative resumes like this can help you stand out from the rest.
3. Pick Your References Carefully
Obviously, you’re not picking someone who is going to make you look bad—but including someone who does not help at all can also be a deal-breaker. An indifferent reference can be just as detrimental as someone who is actually saying negative things about you. Make sure that your references are individuals who are going to sing praises (honestly) and make a good impression.
4. Be Neat
This tip may sound like a no-brainer, but HR professionals get thousands of sloppy resumes every day. This screams out to them, “This person does not care. This person is lazy!” You do not want your resume to give you such a bad impression. For better results, treat resume writing as if it’s a full-time job—not just a half-hearted task. Devote yourself to it and make it worth reading.