As we head into winter and winter breaks, it’s a fantastic opportunity to take a look at your resume to make sure it’s ready for the New Year and potential spring and summer internships and job opportunities. But how do you stand out among your qualified peers? NRPA Young Professional Network (YPN) Member Michael Biedenstein has some tips for putting your best resume forward.
Thou Shall Not
- Have typos or grammar mistakes.
If y’all can’t even get your resume write, you r telling the interviewer that you probably ain’t a gud writer or you just don’t car. It’s even important to use the right tense.
- Have inconsistent formatting or organization.
Is your first job’s date right aligned and bolded? Your second job’s date better also be right aligned and bolded. Job experience should be listed newest to oldest.
- Have unprofessional email addresses, voicemail messages, etc.
It might have been fun to have the email address of “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com” in your younger years, but now is the time to find an email address that is more business appropriate.
- Include high school accomplishments.
Unless you invented a new form of renewable energy or launched a start-up business, it is highly unlikely that anything you did in high school will impress an employer.
- Include irrelevant information.
Everyone is proud of achievements throughout their life. Finishing second place in the intramural volleyball tournament was a great thrill, but is it relevant on your resume (or for this specific job)? Does it add value?
- Simply list past job duties, not your accomplishments.
Past job responsibilities show your experience and skills (supervised ice rink) , which is important. Try also using some numbers (supervised five employees) and/or list accomplishments (May 2014 Employee of the Month).
- Write paragraphs.
✔ Bullet points are a beautiful thing.
✔ Rarely longer than one line per bullet point.
- Send a Word document.
Whether you are posting a document online or sending your resume, always use a PDF. PDFs are harder than Word documents to alter or change. Word documents can also get sorely distorted depending on whether the computer (or phone) that is trying to open it has the same version of Word or the same fonts as your computer.
- Rely solely on the resume, especially with online applications.
Simply attaching your resume and not filling out all the fields (education, past work experience, etc.), will likely hurt you. Many larger companies automatically search for keywords in your application, and it likely won’t find the words in a PDF.
- Worry about the feedback or critiques of every person.
Resumes are just like advertisements. Not every advertisement connects with every person. Soliciting feedback is great, but don’t worry about every little critique. The next person might say you should do the exact opposite.