Searching for a new job, whether you are a new graduate, or a seasoned employee looking for an exciting new opportunity, can be stressful and frustrating. Typically, sending a resume is the first step in that process and also your first opportunity to make an impression. There are a wide assortment of opinions on what can “make or break” your resume submission.
It’s a growing trend for larger companies to use online resume submissions which require you to fill out questions about your work history and experience as well as list out accomplishments, education and extracurricular activities. However, a good majority of companies still want you submit your resume directly to an email address. As the HR person in our agency, I've seen and reviewed hundreds of resumes over the years. So, how do you get your resume to stand out from all the others?
1. Cover letter
While the importance of a cover letter is debated in HR offices around the country, I stand firm that a cover letter still holds it value. In the last month, I have received over 60 resumes for the openings we currently have and out of those submissions, 5 had cover letters. Guess who got a screening call from me? A cover letter shows that you took time to research the company and to point out your skillset and how it relates to the position for which you are applying.
2. Resume design
Take some time to review the design and layout of your resume. There are a ton of websites or templates available to use. Tailor your resume for the role you are seeking. If you are a programmer – the design element may not make much difference. But if you are a marketing or design professional – your resume better darn show it! However, try to avoid using way to much color, or blocks of color as they can diminish the overall look of the resume. Oh, and don’t forget spell check. A misspelled word may immediately get your resume put on the “not interested” pile.
3. Resume length
Short and simple is key. If you have been working for 20+ years it can be difficult to consolidate all of your experience onto 1-2 pages. For me, resumes over 2 pages tend to get put to the bottom of the pile. However, remember there is nothing wrong with listing out your last 1-3 roles and adding additional experience available upon request to the bottom of your resume. If the interviewer cares about learning more, they will ask you! Additionally, a skills section is a must. Especially in technology roles, the technical skills you have actually matter. Your experience with each skill is also a great way to quickly tell the prospective employer if your experience in that skill is at the advanced, moderate or beginner level.
4. Follow up, follow up and follow up
If you really want a particular job, follow up a few days after you submit your resume. Leave a message if you don’t get a live person. When I get an email or phone follow up, I immediately pull the resume and review it. Trust me, it works.
As you are starting your new job search consider these tips to help you freshen up your resume and to make sure that your resume gets noticed. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to check out WSOL’s careers page – we are currently hiring and maybe you have what it takes to work here!