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8 Tips to the Perfect Resume

Updated on January 5, 2015

Looking for a job and still applying with the same old resume? If you aren’t getting any replies or interviews, it may be time to update and reformat your resume. Employers take 10 to 30 seconds to look at a single resume, because time is money. They want to get through the hundreds of applications they have as quickly as possible. They are searching for that one person to fit their needs. So with all the competition out there for the few jobs that are hiring, how can you make sure your resume stands out? By following these simple steps, you will have a resume that employers will want to read.

1. Formatting

The first thing is to make your resume easy to read. Considering the Employer will only be looking at it for half a minute at most, you want to make sure they get everything out of it with no problems. It will also show them that you organized and pay attention to detail. So what is the best formatting for your resume?

  • Keep the font to Times New Roman, Courier New, Calibri, etc. Fancy fonts are harder to read and won’t do much for your resume.
  • Don’t make your text smaller than size 11 or your headings larger than 14. Overall, it is better to keep the size of the text in your resume the same size throughout. Most Employers prefer standard size 12 text, because it is the fastest to read.
  • Try to limit your resume to one page; two at the most. For some people, this can be difficult, because they have a lot of skills and experience. The best solution for this is changing your margins to 0.5 inches. This way, you create more space for your text on the page while still having a nice border edge.

2. Objectives

Now not every job may ask for an objective on your resume, but they do want to know what your goals are and what you can do for them. Objectives are meant to tell the Employer why you think you are a good fit for this job and how you are going to help them out. If you talk all about what you want from the Employer or what they can do for you, they will not be impressed and move on. Employers are not looking for people who are solely focused on themselves. They want people that will work well with others and fulfill the Employer’s needs, so you want to make the best impression you can through your objective. Make it short sweet and to the point, no longer than 3 sentences.

3. Emphasize Your Strengths

Everyone knows that when you are in an interview or talking to someone about a possible job position, it is always better to talk about your strengths and good points than your weaknesses. Question is: How do you do that on a resume? The answer is simpler than you may think. Whatever your particular strengths are, whatever you have the most experience with, goes at the top of your resume directly under your contact information and objective.

Say you’ve just graduated college with your Bachelor of Arts in Business Management. You’ve had two seasonal retail positions, but not other job experience because you were focused on school. You have basic to intermediate knowledge of some of the latest business software from your classes, along with the business plans you did as projects for those classes. What goes first on your resume?

With this type of background, the student should start his resume off with his computer and business skills and other pertinent information. This information could include some of the specific classes he took that the Employer may be interested in such as: Negotiation, Competitive Industry Analysis, Business Strategy and Planning, Marketing Research, and Sales Management. These highlight the focus of his study and tell an Employer what type of knowledge he has. Then he can follow the rest of his resume up with his Education and Professional Experience.

Now in the case of someone with less education and a more hands on background, you would want to start off with their professional experience, listing the responsibilities of the jobs, as well as, emphasizing the goals and achievements at each, if applicable. Then you would list your education and any additional skills or accomplishments you may not have previously stated. In this format, you are showing the Employer how experienced you are and how well you did at your previous jobs. If the Employer is more impressed by your professional experience than someone else with a college degree, even though they wanted someone with a college degree, they could hire you anyway.

Make your resume focus on the best stuff you’ve done and can do for the Employer. Leading with your strengths will interest them enough to take a better look at your resume, instead of just skimming over it.

4. Customize Your Resume With Keywords

Using the same resume with every job will not work. Each Employer has different wants and needs in an employee. To show you are the best candidate for the job, you must use keywords and phrases from the job description you are applying for in your resume. This will catch the Employer’s attention and illustrate to them how you are better suited for the position than other applicants. It also gives you a chance to show them what you have done and can do for their company in the future.

5. Express Passion and Enthusiasm

Employers want employees that are excited and energetic. They want people that will be happy in their job and do it well every day. People with passion about a job are more determined to get things done on time, done right, and start on new projects. This is what Employers look for in a resume. When you write your resume, make sure you put as much energy and enthusiasm in it as you have for the position you are applying to. Employers will take notice and call you more often for interviews.

6. Lifelong Learning

Another important factor that Employers want most in a potential employee is someone that is always bettering him/herself. Employers look for candidates that have a higher education, not because it means they are smarter, but because it means they strive to become more knowledgeable. To Employers, the more an applicant knows, means less money spent on teaching that person. Or another way to see it is that the employee will be a good investment to the company. If an employee likes to learn and strives to be better, then this opens up the possibility of cross-training, transferring departments, and even a management position in the future. Employers like growth, in their company and employees, so if you can show that on your resume through a Continuing Education heading or Achievements section, you will be recognized.

7. Don’t Forget Relevant Accomplishments, Classes, or Certifications

Following up on the last tip, this is a major area most look over. Many people list their skills and experience, but forget to put awards or accomplishments. Employers want people that do well in the jobs they are interested in. If you are a creative writer with some work published, list that on your resume. If you have taken marketing classes, but are a media/art major, list those classes when applying for the marketing position. If you are a Business graduate, but have IT/computer training certifications; put them on your resume! An applicant that is diversified in multiple fields or has received many awards for doing well in work or school will be prominent against other potential candidates.

8. Do Not Put "References Available Upon Request"

When your resume needs to stay at one page (two max), references take up too much space. Nowadays, just putting “References available upon request” at the bottom of your resume is not needed. It isn’t necessary to include this on your resume, because it is implied that you will provide them when they ask. Now in addition to the business and personal references that will go with your resume, don’t forget to include any Employer information.

One of the biggest things going on now is The Work Number website. This website lets Employers verify an applicant’s work history and/or income by entering their SSN and previous company’s ID code. This can be done online through the website or 1-800-367-5690. Including this type of information on your references page will help the Employer get the verification it needs faster. Plus, it will show you are being honest on your resume, as well as, being up-to-date with the latest employment research methods.

I hope these tips have helped you figure out exactly how to update your resume. With a clean, organized resume following these tips, getting callbacks and interviews should be a breeze. I don’t guarantee you will get the job, but at the very least, you will be distinctive amongst the plethora of other applicants


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    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Always interesting to see advice on writing a resume. Thanks for sharing your views. ;-)

    • profile image

      Devineseer 5 years ago

      Great information. Thanks for the help.