Your resume is the first glimpse into who you are as a candidate. A well-organized resume may show a potential employer that you’re on top of your work, have the right skills, and know what you want. Disorganized resumes tell a very different story.
Here’s the deal: On average, hiring leaders spend about six seconds reviewing each resume — and that’s if you’re lucky enough to get past barriers to entry like applicant tracking systems. Those valuable seconds are crucial to your job search; they can make or break your chances. What are you doing to declutter your resume?
Resume writing can be a daunting task for candidates of any experience level. Here are some key ways to freshen up your resume in order to make a great first impression:
Create a great design
When a hiring leader is faced with tons of resumes, one that’s well-designed can stand out among the rest. Boring templates not only make you look outdated, they may also reflect badly on you as a professional. Those who create well-designed resumes have clearly taken the extra steps to stand out. If you haven’t, you may come off as lazy or OK with putting in the least amount of effort.
Tip: Add personal touches such as a logo, use of subtle color, or an interesting (but readable) font in your resume. Use this theme in additional application materials to show continuity and a dedication to really solidifying your personal brand.
Get rid of the objective statement
If you still have an object statement in your resume, you’re living in the past. Objective statements usually state you’re interested in the position because of your qualifications or accomplishments. Well, that’s obvious if you’re applying for the job, especially if you illustrate as such in your resume. Resume writing should not involve objective statements. Get rid of them and save yourself some valuable resume space!
Tip: Instead of relying on an objective statement, make your case in long-form in your cover letter. You can also consider including a professional summary on your resume explaining the value you’ll bring if hired.
Put the important stuff first
Employers should see the most important information first. For example, while you should list your education or volunteer experience, your relevant experience holds a higher priority. Every industry is different, but many hiring leaders look for information in the following order: Contact information, experience, education history, and then skills. You also can list professional organization affiliation towards the end of your resume or as you deem fitting in your experience.
Tip: While some may advise you to include an “accomplishment” section, you can easily weave this information into your experience. Remember: Hiring leaders only have a short amount of time. Limiting the amount of content and avoiding repetition can work out in your favor.
At the end of the day, a hiring leader wants to see what you can do for them. Quantitative elements show results in black-and-white. For example, if you increased the amount of clients your company received or nabbed your company a few awards, note them and detail your involvement in the process.
Tip: Use cause and effect style wording in your resume writing. For example: “Managed the complete overhaul of the company website, which increased page views by 10 percent.”
Limit your resume to one page
You may have a ton of relevant experience. However, this doesn’t mean you have to list it all. Not everything you’ve done is relatable to every job. Plus, employers often don’t have time to read resumes that are more than a page. While I know it can be tough to cut out the important stuff, one-page resumes are what most employers are looking for.
Tip: If you have lots of relevant experience, redirect the employer to your website or LinkedIn profile, where you can house additional information.
While resume writing can be a challenge, a few tweaks will ensure you declutter your content and nab the opportunities you’re looking for. Use the above tips to remove the clutter and better organize your resume.
What do you think? What are some ways to clean up your disorganized resume? What sorts of resume writing have you found to be the most beneficial?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.