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9 Resume Tips from a Job Recruiter

Updated on October 11, 2012

Resume ideas from an HR manager

As someone who has read hundreds of resumes and interviewed dozens of applicants for many jobs, I have an idea of what human resources professionals are looking for in a resume. What we want to see is not always what we find. The applicants that stand out in a good way, give a professional presentation, and understand how to communicate effectively, have an advantage. Here are nine tips on how to build a more effective resume.

Length of the resume

As a rule, never allow your resume to run longer than one page. Do whatever it takes to get it to one page--shrink the margins, shrink the font, cut out unimportant sentences. A resume is supposed to be a summary of your relevant work experience. A resume that goes longer than one page tells me the applicant either (a) isn't very good at summarizing, or (b) thinks that all of their experience is so amazing it is all worth emphasizing. Or both. Not a good reflection on the candidate either way.

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Cover letters, grammar and spelling

Be careful with cover letters if they have not been requested. Most of the time it's just anther document I have to download and read, so if I'm going to go through the trouble, it better be worthwhile. Sometimes I receive a cover letter that does the job, sometimes I don't. If the cover letter isn't very good, it simply harms the candidate's chances that much more. As a rule, anything important that you would express in a cover letter can be expressed just as effectively, if not more so, in the resume itself.

If you absolutely can't resist writing a cover letter, at least keep it to no more than two paragraphs. The recruiter has a lot of applications to go through, and nobody likes excessive reading.

Check spelling and grammar in your resume. This should be common sense, but you would be surprised how many people send a resume with misspelled words and poor grammar. You don't have to write in complete sentences and perfect form. But solid, basic grammar demonstrates a command of the language and shows professionalism. And it is also easier to read.

Sharing your work history and experience

Highlight specific accomplishments, instead of general descriptions of your responsibilities and tasks. Simply listing cliches like "managed a team to deliver superior results" or "was responsible for organizing events" do not give any real information. They are nothing more than a copy-and-paste of the job description. What did you actually accomplish in this job? What was unique about your contribution that someone else would not be able to claim? That gets a recruiter's attention.

Include numbers wherever possible. They are very easy to include, but they really make your resume stand out. Instead of saying "improved customer service" say "implemented methods that reduced customer complaints by 30%". Punctuating text with numbers makes your resume easier to read and more likely to be remembered.

Exclude work experiences that are irrelevant to the job being applied for. They are needless distractions and water down your application, making it weaker. However, do include experience that is not directly, obviously connected to the job in question, but had similar qualities or responsibilities. For instance, leadership, management, direction, attention to detail, organization skills, teamwork or customer service skills.

It's usually okay to mention unrelated work experience, because a smart recruiter knows that what matters is skills and temperament, not the fact that you had this exact same job in the past (which rarely happens). Just make sure it is obvious what the connection of that work experience is to the job you're applying for.

The general rule with resumes is that less is more. Admittedly, it takes time and thought to craft a resume that (a) conveys the information you want, and (b) is brief, readable and to-the-point. And that extra effort is exactly what recruiters look for.

Resume extras

Be careful with listing hobbies or outside interests. Often these are just irrelevant and don't give any useful information about you. They can very easily make your resume look less professional.

"Goals" and "objectives" have very limited utility as well. Remember that a resume is not a place to show off your personality. Its purpose is to demonstrate you have a unique set of skills and professionalism that meets the job requirements, and to secure an interview. The interview is where you will let your amazing personality show.

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