We’ve all heard our teachers and elders warn us how tough the job market is. But nothing quite prepares us for this difficult reality quite like first-hand experience.
Anyone who has been in the job market will tell you that the ‘struggle is real,’ and it’s especially challenging when you’re an undergraduate fresh out of college. Not only do you have nothing to show on your resume, but you’re also competing against hundreds of candidates with similar skill sets. It’s been said that our “first impression lasts,” which could not describe the recruiting process from an applicant’s perspective more accurately.
For a second, put yourself in the shoes of an HR specialist who receives about 50 applications every day. These applicants are completely unfamiliar to you. So, what sets them apart? It’s the presentation. And by presentation here, we mean the application, the resume. We cannot stress it enough how important it is to format a resume that is articulate, compelling, and answers the burning question in the recruiter’s mind: “why should we shortlist you?”
Here are some tips simple ways to improve your resume:
- Choose Your Font. The first tip we will provide to help fix your resume is also one of the simplest. One of most surprising mistakes candidates do, even before they start typing their name, is picking the wrong font. The font is a major part of your resume’s overall presentation. To fix your resume, you’re going to want to make sure that your application looks professional. It should not include unprofessional fonts, like the unfortunately popular comic sans. Never mix playfulness in the professional domain. There’s a time and a place for fun and youthful, but that is not the resume.
- Provide Complete Information. As we discussed earlier, the purpose of pouring thought into the resume is because you need to stand out. You need to give recruiters a reason to consider you. But it won’t happen if you leave out important information about who you are as a candidate and what you can bring to the table. Some basic information includes education, job experience, contact information, skills, and career aspirations. It all combines to give recruiters an idea of your personality. You would be surprised that some people forget to put in their contact information. Not only does it restrict the recruiter from reaching back; it gives a sense of carelessness on your part. Recruiters don’t want to see that in a candidate. When we talk about information, we mean facts that help you stand out. For example, people generally stop at mentioning their job designation and company name. The problem is obvious – it doesn’t give the recruiter enough information. Recruiters want to learn how your skills can serve their organization. And the best way to show that is by sharing how the previous organization benefited from you with numbers. They want specific data points on how you impacted your previous companies’ bottom line. Talk about what the organization achieved with your presence. If you were involved in a project, share milestones, and how you proved instrumental to the team. List any awards or recognition you may have received and training you have attended.
- Avoid Testimonials. Testimonials from previous employers discussing your performance and impact are a great way of proving your worth to an employer. They just don’t work in a resume. You must resist the urge to fill your resume with references from people you’ve worked with. The reason being that they are redundant and take up too much space. Ideally, you’d like to limit your resume to one page. If an employer needs a reference, they will simply ask. So, it’s best to keep that information for the actual interview. Give the space you would have used for references to expand upon your work experience and skills.
- Seek Professional Help. Although making submitting is something you can do yourself, professional assistance to help fix your resume can be of great benefit. Many professional job sites offer resume reviews. Seek assistance from such services if you’re unsure how your current resume holds up. After all, you won’t have the luxury of time to fix it when sitting across the interview panel. There are also online career training courses out there that teach you how to draft a professional and compelling resume.
Among the things listed above, pay attention to grammar and punctuation – it should be impeccable. Use verbs, and a tone that highlights your passion. Recruiters in this and day are not looking for zombies, but lively people who can hold their own opinion. People who can adapt to change, who can learn and improve. You must not excuse yourself from the challenges of professional life.