5 Ways To Improve Your Resume

We took a little break over the summer but we are back in full swing. This summer hasn’t just been the typical slow down, catch your breath season.  Companies are hiring left and right.  As a result, now is certainly a great time to be searching for IT and Healthcare positions.

Regardless of how the market is going, it’s always important to put your best foot forward in your job search efforts.  Your resume is the first impression a prospective employer or staffing firm will have to gauge your capabilities.  Make sure to maximize the opportunity!

At Latitude 36 we are lucky to have a team of Staffing Service Facilitators.  Our SSF team helps coach and guide prospective candidates in putting their best foot forward with creating an effective resume.  As you can imagine, our team sees thousands of resumes each week.  Unfortunately they also wade through a ton of issues and errors, all of which are avoidable.  Our SSF Manager, Lindsey Melton, takes a closer look at 5 critical areas to be aware of as you create an effective resume.

 #5 – Resume Length: There is no “right” resume length.  The days of one page being the standard are gone.  Certainly for entry level positions, one page might cover it, but you don’t want to leave out important skills or information that a hiring manager will want to know.  Just as a one-pager is too short, a resume that is overly long is even worse!  The last thing you want is a Hiring Manager getting tired (or bored!) reading your 10 page resume.

Bullet points are your friend.  They help with ease of reading, pinpointing key information about your experience.  5 to 10 bullet points per job is a good starting point.  Having a target will keep you on track as you outline key responsibilities that are specific to the position requirements you are applying towards.

#4 – Consistent formatting: Another recurring problem is a lack of consistency and uniformity throughout the resume. You want your resume to stand out, but using multiple fonts, sizes, colors, text boxes, headers and footers, and even pictures is not the answer.  That just makes it look messy and cluttered.  As a rule of thumb, if it doesn’t serve a purpose to highlight an important point you wish to get across – avoid it! Also, keep in mind the importance of spacing.  Much like a song or a story, a resume has to have a consistent rhythm or flow.  You shouldn’t have one section single spaced and another section double spaced. If you bold and capitalize the title of one company you worked for, keep it consistent throughout the resume.

#3 – Keep your resume on point:  No Hiring Manager wants to read a novel about your entire career experience, or the complete history of a company or project.  Include your main responsibilities, achievements or awards that stand out, and include any numbers or metrics that demonstrate your success in similar positions.  Let those key items to speak for you, allowing you to stand out.  Also, include certifications, tests, and/or training courses you completed that illustrate your capabilities to perform the position tasks.

#2 – Employment dates: Your goal is to get an interview to demonstrate your strength and capabilities as they align with the position.  Don’t leave unanswered questions that would cause the hiring manager to move on to the next candidate. Try to be as precise as you can with dates – each job must have one.  It should be extremely easy for the reader to gain an understand for how much experience you have, or how long you really worked with a certain company. Be transparent. You don’t want any unexplained employment gaps. Make sure a large gap is explained (without going into too much detail), so it doesn’t become a major focal point of your resume.

#1 – Spelling/Grammar Errors: The #1 problem is spelling and grammatical errors.  Nothing says, “I’m not detail oriented” or “I don’t really care” more than spelling and grammatical errors.  Nobody is perfect, but you are competing against other excellent prospects.  Don’t give the hiring manager a reason to pass on you due to these oversights.  I can’t stress this enough – always, ALWAYS go back and do a spell check when you are finished editing your resume.

While spell check is a must, it isn’t foolproof.  There are things a spell check won’t catch.  For instance, “lead vs. led,” “manger vs. manager,” OR “experience vs. experienced”.  Nothing replaces a couple of good ole read-through’s to ensure everything makes perfect sense.  Lastly, if you feel you need a fresh eye, it never hurts to ask a friend, or someone you trust, to look over the resume before you send it out!

These are our 5 areas of possible improvement that will allow your resume to be a good first impression to a prospective employer or staffing firm. What are some tips you would pass on to job seekers?