We all know the importance of first impressions in creating positive relationships, but what about the idea of first impressions when it comes to applying for a new job? The first thing a potential employer sees is your resume, which means it’s critical to the job application and interview process that your resume represents you in the best way possible.
Hiring managers will usually spend no more than 25 seconds scanning a resume. 25 seconds. In that tiny window of time, you resume has to tell your career story, emphasize why you’re right for the position, and show a potential employer how the skills and experiences you have will not only satisfy the job requirements, but help take the position to another level of productivity and success. Because potential employees are focused on making their resume standout from the pack, there are a number of common mistakes job seekers make creating or editing their resumes.
To help make sure your resume gives hiring managers a lasting, positive first impression, here are 5 practical tips to help improve your resume and increase your chances of making it to the interview stage of the hiring process.
1). Do away with the personal statement
An effective resume shows an employer the work experiences and successes you’ve had; a personal statement mere tells a hiring manager something they will already understand by reading your resume. Personal statements are redundant, often clunky to write or articulate, and they take up valuable space on what should be a short, concise document. If you a hiring manager can’t understand why you’re interested in the position or how your skills and talents will help fulfill the duties and responsibilities, then you haven’t effectively conveyed your career journey.
2). Focus on your accomplishments
Rather than simply listing the duties and responsibilities of your previous positions, highlight your accomplishments, recognitions, or milestones. Instead of describing how you worked with clients to set and achieve financial goals, describe how you worked with specific clients to complete specific projects while reducing costs by a certain percentage. This conveys the same information, but it also shows a hiring manager you understand significant achievements in your career and why these milestones are important and valuable in the position you’re currently applying.
3). Keep your resume to 1 page
Remember how hiring managers only review resumes for about 25 seconds before moving on? If a hiring manager has to turn a page or flip over a resume, that eats into your 25 seconds – and in fact, a majority of hiring managers admit they won’t consider resumes of more than 1 page. To keep yourself in the conversation for a position, make sure resume fits neatly on one side of one sheet of paper. This also makes it easier for hiring managers to keep track of your resume, especially given the volume of job applications they receive.
4). Use a simple design
Keep the layout simple. Don’t use fancy or decorative fonts. Make sure the information, not the design, is the focal point of your resume. Resumes that rely on or use creative or artistic design components are often confusing and difficult for hiring managers to read. As we discussed a moment ago, resumes that are challenging for managers to read won’t be given the standard 25 seconds of attention, which means you’re already out of the running for the position before an employer even begins to scan your job history, skills, and experiences.
5). Eliminate irrelevant job information
If you’re applying for a job in accounting, do you think your summer job at the local diner is worthy of space on your resume? Probably not. Only include past job information – the same goes for skills, awards, and other biographical notes – that apply to the position you’re currently applying for. Hiring managers probably won’t care you were Employee of the Month when you were 16 or 17 – in fact, including this information might very well show a hiring manager you’re simply out of touch with what the job requires or whether you have the skills to successfully fulfill the job’s demands.