Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Does Your Résumé Scream READ ME?

You know that you are competing for a great position with dozens of other equally qualified candidates. Is your résumé at the bottom of the stack, or does it shout READ ME?

The most effective résumés are those that are clear, concise and reader-friendly by recruiting professionals, hiring managers, computer software in the form of Applicant Tracking Systems [ATS] and lay people. The document needs to be illustrative, unique, look professional, interesting and organized. The question is, “How?”

Creating a résumé without the help of a professional is not impossible and there are some basic guidelines that should be adhered to if the document is going to be effective. If you have opted to forego using one of the many résumé templates that are available on the Internet, here are some simple ways to make your résumé immediately jump off the page and stand out among a sea of competitors:

1. Leave enough white space (unused space)
- Too much text on one page makes your résumé look crowded and unprofessional. Widen your margins, break up long paragraphs, and edit down unnecessary wording.

2. Use symbols to make figures sta
nd out - Given that the eye is always drawn to symbols, so using $, #, % and so forth, it will make the reader’s eye jump straight to it. What looks more eye-catching: “Achieved number one district sales positioning” or “Achieved #1 district sales positioning”? Not only does it save valuable space, this small change adds interest.

3. Use bullets rather than paragraphs
- Although your critical information will be contained within the body of the paragraph, your ‘human’ audience will be reluctant to scour your documents to ferret out the information they need.

4. Use applicable keywords from the job posting
- Companies have very specific skill sets in mind when they post opportunities. When responding to these opportunities, it behoves you to use the same keywords as in the original advertisement.

5. Use action words and numbers - It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming the person reading your résumé knows exactly what you did with each company. Do not assume that your audience understands your duties and responsibilities. Providing the potential employer with a picture of what you accomplished at your previous employers is one of the best ways to illustrate what you can deliver to their organization.

Employers are always looking for results. When contemplating hiring decisions, they will choose the candidate with the best experience and most applicable prior successes. If they have a need and you have demonstrated you can deliver results and communicate clearly and concisely via your résumé, then you are essentially showing them you are a perfect fit and are likely to be on their short list for further consideration.

Copyright © 2011, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.“Career Matters” is a blog hosted by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career This blog is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at