There is no precise formula for a rock solid resume. In the vernacular of my old crusty Senior Chief, if you are operating with only one resume for every job you are applying to, you are wrong. That doesn’t mean that you need fifteen radically different resumes, but it does mean that you should think about how you would read your resume if you were the employer. Here are four tips for a resume that will set you apart:
1.) Be concise
Keep in mind that hiring managers read stacks of resumes every day, so resumes that are easy to read and straight to the point stand out. There are only a two groups of people who need a two-page resume, and they are senior management types, and people with specific technical skills. If you can code multiple computer languages or have been a CO or CEO, then you are allowed to have a two-page resume. The rest of us should treat the resume as a one-page marketing flier that advertises our best qualities and most pertinent experience. Bullet points are your friends, and rambling paragraphs will get you kicked out of the party.
2.) Know your audience
You should have a folder on your computer that has multiple versions of your resume. Applying for that job at the trendy technology startup in NoHo should look a little different than your resume for IBM. You may be looking at a job as a bodyguard and as an English teacher at the same time, and be well qualified for both, but you shouldn’t use the same resume. Your black belt and combat experience is important to mention for one of these, but you might think about leaving it off for the other.
3.) Don’t just save and send
First off, unless directed differently by the employer, you should always save your resume as a pdf. Pdf files can be opened by anyone, regardless of whether their device has Word or Pages, so you can be sure your resume can be read. After saving the document, be sure to double check to make sure you don’t have any stowaway pages—many times a blank page will save as part of the file and if you turn it in like that, it will be obvious you didn’t check your work—another flag.
4.) Formatting is as important as content
A well-formatted resume shows that you are attentive to detail, take pride in your work and present yourself well—three characteristics that hiring managers are looking for. A sloppy resume can raise flags before the reader even analyzes the content. Be organized and consistent, and don’t forget to leave white space. Trying to cram everything into your resume makes it hard to read, so make sure to allow space between lines and sections. After you write your resume, read it. Then have someone else read it.