You’re looking for work and suddenly the job of your dreams is calling out to you from your laptop screen. You know you can do it if only somebody will give you the chance, but you also know there will be many others chasing the same post. Somehow you have to persuade this company that you have something to offer which the others don’t, but how will you do that?
The chances are, the person whose task it is to sift through the applications and to whittle them down into a manageable shortlist won’t know you or anything about you. Everything you have at your disposal to persuade that person that you are at the very least deserving of an interview must be on that initial application. If it fails to impress, you will never get the opportunity to dazzle the interviewer with your subject knowledge, experience and limitless charisma. One chance, it’s make or break.
So let’s look at some general rules for making an immediate impact with your resume:
#1: Include a Covering Letter
Your resume itself needs to be kept short and to the point, and so a covering letter can give you a second bite of the proverbial cherry when it comes to imposing your personality on your application. Research undertaken by ZipRecruiter, a leading online marketplace for jobs, suggests that including a cover letter increases your chances of securing an interview by nearly a third.
#2: Keep It Brief
You may feel that your working life story is the stuff of which epic novels are written, but your potential employer is going to see lots, possibly hundreds of them. Striking the balance between including all relevant information and resisting the temptation to overwhelm it with trivia is key.
#3: Pay Attention to Formatting
Most employers expect to see one page of text, with your contact details prominently displayed and followed by the most relevant information about your work history listed in reverse chronological order. By all means be creative in your presentation, but don’t try to be clever with the sequencing of your work events. The interviewer is not going to invest too much time in trying to dig out the requisite detail if it isn’t where it is expected to be.
#4: Utilize Social Media
In the digital age the process of seeking employment is no longer simply about finding an advertisement in the local newspaper and firing off a letter. Much is done via social media, and in particular LinkedIn which is the dedicated platform of choice for professionals. If you haven’t done so already, teach yourself how to add resume to LinkedIn and take advantage of this excellent resource for showcasing your skills.
#5: Lead With Your Best Material
Work on the assumption that the recipient is going to be reading lots of applications, and that with the best will in the world their attention span is liable to be sorely tested. If the first 300 words of your resume is difficult on the eye and contains nothing to inspire then the latter part of your submission may well end up not being read at all. So stimulate their interest at the first available opportunity, and maybe save the more mundane material for later on.
#6: Don’t Ignore Appearance
Content may be king, but if the layout of your resume is a mess then what does that say to a potential employer about your approach to organization and to detail? Be consistent with spacing and other aspects of the formatting process. Avoid fonts which are flippant or un-businesslike – your job application is a serious business, so do whatever you can to make sure it is taken seriously.