Your resume is often your first impression with a company. It needs to look professional but also make you stand out from the crowd. Do you know that research shows that employers spend less than 30 seconds glancing at your resume? More often than not, they are looking for reasons to count you out to make the process easier for them. This is especially true if they have hundreds of resumes to sift through. In larger corporations, your resume may have to pass the screening test of a computer before a human ever sees it.
But you can have a successful resume by following five simple tips.
1. Spelling and grammar count! If you’re using a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, use the spell check and grammar check. Errors on your resume will stick out like a sore thumb. Don’t give them an easy excuse for putting your resume in the trash.
2. List your accomplishments not your job duties. Unless you’ve been given a strange and unrecognizable title in your last job, your resume should focus on your accomplishments. This is how you will set yourself apart from others. Use concrete data whenever possible as well. For instance instead of saying “Increased sales in my division,” say “Increased sales by 74% in 12 months for the southeastern division.”
3. Be careful when listing dates. You should list dates on your resume whenever possible. At the very least, your resume should list the years of employment for each job. An even better choice is to list the month and year. If you have gaps of unemployment, list any courses you took or any volunteer work you performed to help cover the gap.
4. Don’t give personal information. Keep your resume professional. The employer does not need to know that you are married with three children and a dog and enjoy knitting. If it doesn’t specifically relate to the job duties, it does not belong on your resume.
5. Include complete contact information. You want to make it easy for an employer to get in touch with you. Be sure you provide your first and last name, complete address, phone number (with area code) and email address. You may also want to provide a cell phone number if its unlikely you will be near your home phone during normal business hours. Along this same line, be sure your voicemail on your cell phone and your answering machine at home have a professional message.
Finally, and this advice may be a little controversial, you may consider leaving off the location of your jobs if each one is at a different post. It won’t be quite so obvious you’re an Army Wife and will possibly prevent skipping over your resume because they don’t think you will be around long term.