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Career Development

Top Tips for Your Resume

Jack McCallum
May 24, 2016

Are you confident your resume will score you an interview? To help your resume get into the right hands, it’s useful to follow some simple guidelines. The tips below have been developed from years (OK, I admit it, decades) of experience in human resources – both as an HR manager and as a consultant for many employers across many industries. Use them to help your resume stand out from the crowd.

Bullet points are essential

Bullet points keep your information organized and help employers find the key words they need to extend an interview. Additionally, employers use software and other devices to sift through the resume pile, and they’re more likely to pick out bullet points.

Triple-check your spelling

Yes, spell check is a wonder. It will catch a lot of mistakes – and not just spelling errors. However, it doesn’t catch everything. You may have spelled a word correctly but meant to use a different word that sounds the same. For example, spell check will not catch if you use the word “wear” instead of “where.” Read through your resume several times. Then, to be safe, have someone else read through it to make sure you didn’t miss anything before you click “send.”

Focus on accomplishments, not duties

Employers want to know what you accomplished, not just what you did and where you did it. Instead of telling a prospective employer you were responsible for a department’s budget, write about how your cost-cutting initiatives reduced the department’s overall costs by 20 percent. This clearly illustrates the positive impact you had in your job.

Resume space is valuable real estate

Your resume should have as few pages as possible, but must include all relevant work history and accomplishments. Use your space wisely! Drop your objective, hobbies, interests, and whatever extras you have included that do not have anything to do with your knowledge, skills, abilities, and other job qualifications. Instead, include information about your certifications, professional development, special skills, and special projects/teams you’ve worked on.

Bonus tip: Keep your references on a separate page and provide them only when the employer asks for them.

Action words make a difference

Action words make the difference between dynamic and stagnant writing. When detailing what you have accomplished, avoid using “I” or “my” in your resume. For example, instead of writing “I developed policies and procedures for my department,” try “Developed procedures to maximize department effectiveness.”  

Bonus tip: Speaking of action verbs, please avoid the word “responsible.” It is often over-used in resumes. Instead, use more dynamic words such as saved, developed, created, implemented, initiated, compiled, or analyzed.

Use these tips when crafting a resume to help advance you to the next stage of your career. Want more tips to add to your resume-writing toolkit? Check out the resources below.

Books:

Burns-Martin, T. (February 2012).  Before and After Resumes with CD: How to Turn a Good Resume Into a Great One. Adams Media.

Websites:

Purdue Online Writing Lab (n.d.). Resume Workshop.  Retrieved at https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/719/1/   

Princeton University Career Services (n.d.). Resume Tips. Retrieved at https://careerservices.princeton.edu/graduate-students/exploring-options-outside-academy/non-academic-job-search-toolkit/resumes/resume-tips

Saifi, R. (April 6, 2016).  “A Myth Busted:  Do resume writing services really get people job interviews.”  Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/resume-tips/   

 

Jack McCallum has been with Herzing University’s Online Business Department since 2011. When not teaching, she serves as the President/Principal Consultant for HR Balance LLC—a consulting company specializing in human resources management, organizational development, leadership coaching, and training/development. She started HR Balance LLC in 2003 after years of serving in a leadership capacity for a variety of for-profit and non-profit organizations. A keynote speaker and presenter, Jack has served as an industry expert for radio and print media.


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