Whether you’re working on an online GIS degree, online nursing degree or MBA, your resume must accurately represent your skills, aptitude and career desires. When you apply for a job, you may be the most qualified person in the world, but if your resume is not well-written, you are likely to be lost in the sea of applicants.
Here are seven tips to help you separate yourself from the pack.
Use simple fonts, like Arial or Times New Roman. While most job servers have proprietary software for resume creation, , you must keep it simple. “Most recruiters are using applicant tracking systems. Crazy fonts can distort your resume once loaded,” says Marie Meyers, Director of Human Resources for Data Systems Analysts Inc.
We’ve all executed Google searches. When you “search” for a keyword, you’re hoping to land on the appropriate websites. Think of your resume as the Internet. When recruiters or HR executives receive hundreds of resumes, they search for keywords that are relevant to their open positions. Just one keyword can have tremendous power and deliver a huge message. The best way to understand your industry’s keywords is to use the same keywords in job announcements in the “requirements,” “skills” or “qualifications” sections and look for “buzzwords” and desirable credentials for your ideal job.
“When preparing your resume, be specific and accurate – do not embellish your resume! Never lie,” Meyers says. Most companies have the right to terminate employees on the spot if people misrepresented themselves on a resume. In some cases, lying on a resume could be considered fraudulent.
Brevity is preferred
A resume is not an autobiography. Recruiters skim through submissions and quickly eliminate non-qualified candidates. If a resume reads look like a book, it’s much more difficult for the potential employer to scan it. Thus, a resume bogged down in lengthy paragraphs is likely to go in the rejected pile. With that said, it’s important to highlight your accomplishments. This is especially important for illustrating your job performance. Which sounds better?
1) Served as an non-commissioned officer reporting to senior officials
2) Have served as a non-commissioned officer, while responsible for leading six soldiers through multiple in-depth national training exercises and was responsible for reporting to high-ranking officers
Example two is wordy and imposing to read, while example one illustrates in a concise way the applicant’s leadership, managerial qualities and abilities to meet with superiors.
Let your certifications shine
“List all your certifications and education that you completed,” Meyers says. “If you have yet to obtain a certification, be sure to notate that you are preparing for the cert and date of intended completion. Clearly mark “intend to complete” and the month or date of intended completion. If you don’t have a date in the near future – don’t list it.”
It’s also important to know what not to include on your resume. Does it really matter that you delivered pizza in high school? Typically once you’ve graduated from college, you no longer need to list high school positions, unless they serve as an example of experience you need for the job you’re applying for.
Meyers says spellchecking your resume sounds like a no-brainer, but says she gets hundreds of bad resumes from executive-level applicants with poor spelling. “Read your resume out-loud to make sure your spell-check did not auto correct something incorrectly,” she says.
Go pro with your email
Meyers also recommends using a professional email address, like first initial, last name @(hosting company).com. For example, if HotBabyStuff@email.com is your email address, it could reflect poorly on your credibility. “There is a lot that can be interpreted through an email address,” she says. “You create an impression with a simple, professional email address.”
In addition to on-the-job experience, earning an advanced degree is also key in setting yourself apart from the competition. With affordable online degree programs in business, health care and IT, American Sentinel University may help get your resume to the top of that huge stack.