When It Comes to Your Resume, What’s Important?
By: Alexandria Vattimo, Career Services Advisor
After reviewing so many resumes over the years, I have noticed there is no universal mistake people make. However, when writing your resume, you should keep in mind that it is a living document and, therefore, will never be finished. Knowing this should offer you a sigh of relief and allow you to welcome the challenge of ensuring that your resume is suitable for each position you apply to.
When I first receive a resume, I examine the overall format. What is the font size and style? How is the layout? Are the headings appropriate for the context? All these factors contribute to the resume’s quality, especially in today’s job market when we must continuously tailor our resumes to each job.
I stress to my clients the importance of format over context initially. A solid resume is like a house; if the foundation is steady and appealing to the eye, whatever furniture and décor go in can come second. It works the same way with a strong format for your resume. Do you have a section summarizing your skills in bullet points that are easy to read? How many years back does your Professional Experience go? Are transferable skills more important to showcase for a particular job you can do but have not necessarily done? Then why not add a Highlights of Accomplishments section.
Upon organizing these headings, you can then go back and decide what "furniture," i.e., context, best fits your audience. This is where tailoring and keeping the Applicant Tracking Systems in mind comes into play. Look at what the employer is asking for; look at the qualifications listed on the job posting. If they want someone who has substantial knowledge in Microsoft Office Suite, and that is a skill you are confident in, make sure it is on your resume!
When I finish an initial review of a resume for a client, I always give them a bulleted checklist via email. This list includes things I noticed they should go back and take a closer look at and general tips everyone should keep in mind. Things like Applicant Tracking Systems and the sites you can use (www.cvscan.uk, www.jobscan.co, www.skillsyncer.com, and more!) help ensure your resume is ATS friendly.
For those of you writing a resume for the first time, I suggest you stick to the basics first and get the format in place. You may also want to check out RochesterWorks! E-learning for helpful resume writing tips, especially if you are a visual learner.