Following my Job Hunt Series? Last week I talked about your cover letter. Now, here’s the piece of paper that becomes such a big deal. The piece of paper that will dictate whether or not you get the call, assuming recruiters even see it. So how do recruiters find resumes? What do you write on one? How do you write it? How do you convince a complete stranger that you’re actually brilliant and fantastic without sounding generic? Here’s how to set yourself apart…in a good way.

DO NOT…write in size six font. Seriously.
We talked about this in the post about your cover letter. Two pages is perfectly acceptable for a resume. String it out a little longer instead of trying to condense all of your information onto one page. Remember, size 12 Times New Roman or size 10 Arial! Any smaller than that and you’ve lost me.

DO…include as many keywords as possible.
Recruiters search on employer websites like Workopolis, Monster, and their own databases. They use keywords to find a specific skill set. Got a certification or specific designation? Put that on your resume, especially in acronym form. Familiar with a particular software? Put that on your resume. Think like a recruiter. What is the job that you want? Now, what skills do you need to get it? Put those skills on your resume in a form that people will type in to search.

For example: let’s say your goal is to become an Administrative Assistant. Recruiters would be looking for things like organizational skills, attention to detail, ability to multitask, and a strong ability to communicate. The trouble is that no recruiter is going to search for those words on a resume because everybody uses them. Instead they’re going to be look for words like “Microsoft Word” and “documentation”. Put those words on your resume so that you will pop up in their searches.

DO NOT…include a “hobbies” section.
This is more of a personal preference than a hard core fact. I really don’t care that you love horseback riding, or that you collect vintage postcards. I mean, that’s cool and all, but it’s got nothing to do with the job that you’re applying for. If you want to show that you’re “personable”, do that on the phone when they call you. If you really love your “hobbies” section, remember that it is not, I repeat IS NOT a place for you to show your “funky personality”. Do not write things like “I’m a really cool gal that loves to chill with my friends!” on your resume. Ever. It just isn’t professional.

DO…keep it chronological.
Chronological by the end date, not the start date. Resumes that aren’t chronological (i.e. sorted by skill or duty) are incredibly difficult to read. Oh, I see you have used this software before…but when? Ten years ago? Ten days ago? I have no way of knowing. Also, sorting your resume by skill, instead of by job, forces recruiters to be limited to the company and the job title. Nobody is going to read a page and a half listing only your skills, but we will read about your responsibilities at each job. (Note: it’s still a good idea to include a Skills section, but keep it to less than a third of a page and add it just above your work experience. This is a great place to load up on keywords.)

DO NOT…format it in a “creative” way.
Just keep it standard so that it’s easy to read. The order should be something like:
Contact Information
Education
Skills Summary
Work Experience
“References available upon request.”

Your work experience section should look something like this:
Job Title, Company (Month Year – Month Year)

  • Main duty
  • Another main duty
  • Awesome accomplishment

DO…keep it short.
Two pages, then I stop reading. Without fail.

Image courtesy of quinn.anya via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).