How to Make a Good First Impression

Do you want your resumé to open doors? Then accept these two assumptions:

  1. Your resumé likely is one of hundreds for the same job. One estimate says there is an average of 250 applicants for every corporate job opening.
  2. The person reading your resumé is not going to hang on your every word. In fact, some studies show recruiters spend mere seconds scanning a resumé.

Next, put yourself in the right frame of mind with this mantra: My resumé is not about what I have done, but what I can do for you.

With the above understanding, you’re ready to prepare a resumé that will graduate to the “to interview” pile. Here’s a compilation of the best advice to make your resumé stand out from the crowd.

Make it relevant.

Sending out the same resumé to multiple employers is doomed to fail. Tailor your resumé to each opportunity. That means emphasizing the parts of your experience and training that make you particularly suited to each specific job.

Study the job posting for key words and phrases, and if something applies to your experience or skills, reflect that in the resumé. For example, if the job seeks a candidate who has demonstrated “increasing levels of supervisory responsibilities,” use that phrase if it describes you, then elaborate.

Study the company. Its website can provide insight about its mission and workplace culture. If it espouses a particular philosophy of customer service with which you have experience, include that.

Describe accomplishments in past jobs that suggest how you would benefit the prospective employer. In addition to your job titles, list achievements. For example, candidates for sales positions should quantify sales successes, such as a 200 percent sales increase in 18 months.

Make it readable.

Experts differ on how long a resumé should be, but it should be as short as possible to convey your message — in other words, be concise.

Organize the material with the most important info first. List experience in reverse chronological order. Don’t necessarily list every job since high school, but group similar work experience under a time span to avoid the appearance of work gaps. If you held several positions with one company, simplify it to say that you “rose from entry-level customer service representative to division chief supervising 40 people.”

As for format, use a type font at least 11 point and “air out” the text with wider margins and line spacing. Use color to make your resumé stand out and graphs to effectively present numerical information.

Avoid slang, acronyms and technical jargon. Leave out personal information, such as age, family, religion and hobbies. Provide a link to your LinkedIn profile or a professional website or blog for additional information.

Your resumé must be absolutely free of spelling and grammar errors. Proofread it, and then print it and proofread it again. Then have someone else look it over.

Add a compelling cover letter.

Just as a good resumé can snag an interview, a good cover letter can get your resumé read. The letter should be confined to one page. It should not duplicate your resume, but state exactly why you are well-suited for the job. Here is where you can inject a bit more of your personality and perhaps provide brief anecdotal evidence as to what makes you a good fit for the company.

The cover letter should be personally addressed. If you have met that person, remind him or her. If a company employee has referred you to the position, state that.

Finally, be truthful. Your credibility is important to your career and should not be put at risk by embellishing the facts.

Job Search, Resume, Networking

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