I’ve learned a lot in college about how to improve myself professionally. Some of my favorite tips revolve around resumes; it’s insane how many minor mistakes add up! I’ve been to a bunch of informational interviews, mentor meetings, networking events, and seminars, all of which had resumes come up in one way or another. Today, I’m sharing 8 of the best pieces of resume advice I’ve picked up over this past year!
1. Make it easy to update.
I found this one out the hard way. I tried online resume builders, but if you stick with the free version it’s hard to update your document and save it to your computer. I also worked with a Microsoft Word template, but that didn’t work out so well for me either because the formatting adjustments were ridiculous. In my opinion, it’s easier to just start from scratch; open a blank document, start with your header, and work your way down. This way, you get the spacing and information just the way you want it the first time and won’t have to figure out and alter someone else’s set up. Plus, you’ll have an easy-to-modify document that won’t flip out when you go to add a sentence here or there!
2. Add your LinkedIn and contact information.
LinkedIn is like your super awesome, detailed, virtual resume. You can link to articles you were featured in, upload pictures of projects and professional papers you’ve worked on, get recommendations, and more! I love LinkedIn because it’s so easy to keep updated and organized. I use it all the time to research professionals I know I’m going to speaking with later at a networking event/informational interview/job interview/etc.
It’s easy to change your profile link, so clean the default up a bit and add it to the contact header on your resume which, by the way, you should have. A resume without contact information is practically pointless. Make sure you have your name (obviously), mailing address, professional email address, and phone number. It won’t matter how much they love you if they can’t contact you; they more often than not won’t waste time in their busy schedules to track you down.
3. Know what’s important/relevant.
Shuffle around your work experiences to put the most relevant ones at the top, even before your educational background. If you worked three jobs in high school, but have started doing internships during college, you can probably take some (if not all) of those minimum wage jobs off. Many articles suggest having a master resume that outlines everything and making copies of that resume to suit different positions. This way, you still keep records of your accomplishments, but you’ll only submit what’s relevant to a certain job each time you make a new copy.
4. Use numbers.
Another common tip is to number-drop. Here’s an example from Monster Worldwide:
“Which of the following statements would impress you more?
- Wrote news releases.
- Wrote 25 news releases in a three-week period under daily deadlines.
Clearly, the second statement carries more weight. Why? Because it uses numbers to quantify the writer’s accomplishment, giving it a context that helps the interviewer understand the degree of difficulty involved in the task.”
Instead of “responsible for managing a budget,” say “responsible for managing 7 project budgets worth a total of $1.2 million.”
Instead of “traveled to Mexico for missionary work,” say “traveled to six cities in Mexico over 3 months as a missionary on a team of 20 people.”
These help the hiring manager to understand more of what exactly you were doing and how you made a positive contribution.
5. Add color wisely.
Color helps your resume stand out, but don’t go crazy. Your resume is not some piece of pop art.
Use a classy, professional color like a dark red, navy, deep purple, or emerald. The best ways to use these are as a line under your contact header, a footer, or a thin border. Avoid overlaying text over a colored background, as you don’t know how someone is going to be viewing your resume. If they read it on-screen, different monitors may portray the colors slightly different. If they print it out, it will likely be in black and white, in which case your resume may be unreadable. Don’t make your color the focus of your resume; after all, you and your accomplishments should be what they remember, not some gaudy or unreadable color!
6. Keep it to one page.
Unless you’re some big shot with thirty years of different high-level experiences and tons of accolades, you don’t need more than one page. Most employers just spend a few seconds on the first half of the front page anyway, so put all the vital information there! Be short and to the point; any further explanation and details can go on your LinkedIn profile or in your cover letter.
7. Make the most of your margins.
1″ margins give you so much empty white space! Having trouble condensing your information to one page? Play with your margins and spacing. Clearly you don’t want to make everything so small and smushed together that it becomes unorganized and hard to read/understand, but extending your margins and lowering your spacing ratio can help you make the most of that one page.
8. Never send it as a Word document.
It’s unprofessional. The best thing to do is have your resume in Word but save a copy as a PDF when you’re finished and ready to send.
To do this, go to file → export → create PDF
Follow the pop up window to save it! Make sure the file name has your name and resume somewhere in it.
I usually save my PDF versions as “*Last Name*_*Company Name*_Resume” before sending.
You know you have what it takes to rock this new job. A stand-out, professional resume will help you get there!
~What’s your best resume tip?