Your resume is the most important document you'll submit in your job search. It's your front-line fighter, so to speak, as it's your first opportunity to present yourself to a potential employer.
A strong resume can help you stand out from the crowd, but a weak resume can remove you from the running, so you want to do all you can to make sure your resume is the best it can be.
It can be difficult to succinctly present all of your experiences and qualifications, but there are many ways to spruce up your resume without going overboard. To help you land an interview, Business News Daily rounded up some of the experts' best resume writing tips.
The No. 1 rule of writing a resume is to keep it short and to the point. The general rule is no more than one page unless you have a very good reason for it to be longer, like an extensive career or many highly applicable work experiences.
Your resume should target the specific job you are applying for. Sending the same resume off to every job you apply for will be a detriment.
"I often pass over resumes that match Microsoft Office templates," Bissot said. "The templates are meant to be a guide to get started, but it should be expanded on to make it your own."
Format your resume in ways that make you look good. For instance, Bissot recommended, if you advanced in a company quickly, draw attention to that growth; if you excessively job-hopped, bullet those jobs without providing specifics, and detail more applicable positions. This will play to your assets.
More recently, career experts have urged job seekers to do away with the old "objective" statement and instead consider including a brief summary, called a "career snapshot," at the top of their resumes.
Think of your career snapshot as an answer to the question "how would you describe your work experience in one sentence?" The summary is an opportunity to sum up your most relevant and important skills, experience, or assets right off the bat.
If a company uses an applicant tracking system (ATS) to collect and scan resumes, a human hiring manager may never even glance at any application that doesn't fit the job criteria they've entered. Trish O'Brien, vice president of human resources at Caliper, emphasized adapting your resume to the position to increase your likelihood of passing the first level.
A helpful tip is to make sure you include keywords from the job post in your resume. Top Resume suggests copying and pasting the job description into a word-cloud generator to identify the most frequently used terms, and making sure the terms that apply to you are used in your resume. You can also create a "core competencies" or "areas of expertise" section of your resume to list all of your hard and soft skills, and then reiterate those skills when you bullet your experience.
Hiring managers don't want to read a list of your job duties. They want concrete examples of your accomplishments in previous positions that show how you can make a difference in this new position. Rangel noted that specific merits are more engaging to read than just your experiences. For example, "I reduced operating expenses by 23% in six months" is far more interesting to an employer than "I have 30 years of sales experience," she said.
When deciding what information to keep or cut out of your resume, focus on striking abstract traits and qualifications in favor of concrete, quantifiable results.
Trite, lackluster descriptions of your job duties and accomplishments won't do you any favors. Make sure you're using strong action words like "achieved," "designed," "improved" and "established" to describe your roles and projects, said Sade. This, he said, will make you sound confident while imparting vital information. But be cautious about depending on action verbs – make sure to include details about how you improved a process or achieved a goal.
Many hiring managers today screen candidates on social networks. Save them a step by providing your profile links on your resume. Seasoned applicants with a professional social presence would do well to include URLs for their LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and blog, if applicable.
Your social profiles can be a powerful tool to supplement your experience and position as an expert in your field, but only if they are leveraged correctly.
Triple-check your own work, and then have someone else look over your resume to ensure it's 100% clean. There is no room for sloppiness on your resume, said Obeid – a hiring manager will likely automatically dismiss your application if they spot a typo or grammatical error.
"Make sure it's error-free and easy to read," Obeid said. "HR reps equate typos and errors with laziness. Use good English – the written word has a huge impact on the employer."
However, typos aren't the only type of mistake to watch out for.
Yet another reason not to use generic, cookie-cutter job applications is that some companies have very specific instructions as to what they want to see in your resume, cover letter and work samples. Failing to do what's been asked could mean an automatic no from employers.