First impressions. They have the ability to either make or break your career. So it’s imperative that you make a good impression on each and every person you meet, whether they are a potential boss, colleague, or friend. Although we generally think our first impressions are made upon actually meeting the person, also known as the interview phase, that is not the case. People form their initial impressions of us from the information we provide them, such as our social media platforms, cover letters and most importantly, our résumés.
A hiring committee or potential boss won’t even consider you for an interview if your résumé is not up to par, which is why I’ve spent years researching and perfecting my résumé, to ensure it will catch the eyes of employers. Even though I’m rather young, my experience with résumé writing and editing is extensive and I’ve assisted several college students with preparing theirs for the annual summer internship search.
Here are my five essential pieces of advice that will help you create a better résumé.
The main mistake students make when writing their résumés is that they create a document that is more than one page in length. The cardinal rule for résumé writing is that if you have under seven years experience in your field, keep your résumé to one page. Whether you’re in college searching for an internship or a recent graduate looking for your first job, employers want to see a short and sweet résumé with information most relevant to the position you’re applying for. Keeping your résumés to one page in length will show your future employers that you have the ability to explain yourself and your accomplishments in succinct matter.
Employers absolutely despise receiving plain white paper, black ink résumés. It shows that the applicant has no creativity whatsoever. Especially in the public relations industry, we have the ability to illustrate our graphic abilities through our cover letter and résumé designs. Although your résumé should not be a work of art, it should be a place to showcase your personal brand. Create a unique design that you can consistently utilize on all of your professional documents and don’t be afraid to use small amounts of color. These small adjustments will make your résumé stand out among the crowd.
3. Skip the “Skills & Qualifications” Section
Following your name and contact information, résumés should begin with your “Education” and “Work Experience” sections. This is the most important information for employers. They want to see where you went to school, with what degree you graduated and what relevant experience you possess. More often than not, employers receive hundreds of résumés during application periods and need any excuse to discard résumés from the pile. If they see a document that doesn’t begin with these two sections, that provides them with an excuse to not take a second look at your résumé. So if you must explain the skills and qualifications that you have, create a “Proficiencies” section following your “Work Experience” to list what you are proficient at.
Here is an example of what you can list on your résumé:
PROFICIENCIES Adobe Creative Suite, Vocus, Social Media, WordPress, Microsoft Office, AP Style
2. Utilize Boldface, Underline and Font Size To Your Advantage
Certain parts of your résumé are obviously more important than others, so make them stand out with boldface, underlines and larger font sizes. Here’s an example of how to differentiate between importance on a résumé:
Account Executive • November 2012 – Present Fleishman Hillard • Montreal, Canada
- oversee all technology accounts
- create strategic social media strategies for clients
- run all client meetings and present results
And last, but certainly not least is what I see as the most imperative element of any résumé,
The absolute worst thing you could possibly do is send out the exact same résumé and cover letter for every job you are applying for. If you have enough relevant experience, so as that it will not all fit on one page (which you should), create one master document that holds every work, volunteer and leadership experience you have had over the years. From there, create a personalized résumé with two or three experiences that are most relevant to each job you are applying for. Employers will appreciate it and will be more likely to give your résumé a second look.
By following these five simple steps, you will create a much better first impression for yourself in the business world. It will also help you advance to the interview phase of the job search.
If you are currently searching for a job or internship and need assistance creating a one-of-a-kind résumé, please comment below, as I’m more than willing to help!