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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Good People, Bad Resumes

Unfortunately, this is a more common phenomenon than it should be – excellent candidates with terrible resumes. Most sources will tell you that an employer spends an average of 10 to 20 seconds reviewing your resume. That’s not a lot of time to make an impression, which means making a good one is essential.

Edit, edit, edit.
A colleague turned to me recently to tell me a candidate’s cover letter was both years out of date, and addressed the wrong position. Now while this is a very specific example, the point is the impression had been made. Resumes stand in your place; they need to be clean, prepared, and tailored appropriately for the job. If a resume is hard to read, it won’t be read.  And this is the point; the person standing behind that terrible resume could be the perfect candidate.

The problem is, employers and recruiters don’t want to (and shouldn’t have to) decipher your resume. Having to dig for relevant experience, determine what exactly you did at your jobs, and searching for educational details is frustrating and eats away your 10 to 20 seconds.

So, what are the key aspects of a good resume?

  • Organized – clear and distinct sections that flow logically
  • Targeted – skills and experience should match the job
  • Consistent – formatting (fonts, sizing, margins) should be consistent throughout the resume  
  • Concise – describe skills and experience in an active voice, but also get to the point
  • Accurate – up to date and truthful
  • Grammatically correct – shows you took the time to proof read

Obviously there isn’t one right way to write a resume, and being unique is good. Today there is a wealth of resources available for creating a polished resume and cover letter. Online, the career services sections of university and college websites are great places to start, and often offer resume tips and guides. In addition, many cities have employment service centers that can offer assistance. Finally, have a friend or family member take a look.

Essentially, this is a two way street. Employers will spend time on you, if you spend the time on them. Now everybody go and review your resumes.

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