Write a Really Great Résumé

Many millennials have recently graduated from college and are making the transition into the job force. However, a poorly-written, blah-looking résumé could keep well qualified recent grads from getting their foot in the door for the first interview. You, Mr. or Ms. Millennial, have to make sure that your résumé pops. So, here are a 4 very important and helpful tips.

1. Your résumé should only be one page long.

According to a recent study by TheLadders.com, you have 6 seconds to impress a résumé reader. In order to stand out, you need to make sure that yours defines you in the most concise way possible. Employers will appreciate your brevity and ability to get to the point without adding any fluff. So, what if your résumé is just over 1 page long, but you can’t think of any way to cut it down?

One way is to get rid of any subjective descriptions of yourself, such as “hard-working,” “fast learner,” or “team player.” Although those attributes may well be true, there is no way to prove them. Instead, slide your attributes into your descriptions of previous jobs and experience. For example, a person who worked as a sales manager might write, “Responsible for over $150,000 in gross sales, oversaw a team of sales associates, conducted sales team meetings, established an efficient employee schedule, and quickly learned to effectively manage employee payroll.” Boom. There is a hard working, fast learning team player.

Another way to shorten your résumé is to get rid of your “objective” section. I’m not sure how the “objective” in a résumé got to be so popular, but really effective résumés do not use them. Take this example:

Objective:  I am seeking a software engineer position with a progressive employer where I can contribute to the development of new technologies and work with bright, committed people. (About.com).

That sounds nice, but here’s the problem: It’s all about you. It focuses on your needs rather than the needs of the employer. An employer does not care what you want. Employers care about what you have to offer. The other elements of your résumé, if well written, should show that.

2. Attach a Cover Letter

A cover letter should accompany every résumé you send out. A cover letter is very short (1 to 2 paragraphs, max), and expresses to the employer why you are interested in the position. A cover letter is your résumé’s first impression, so make it effective. The keys to writing an effective cover letter are personalization and customization.

First, personalize your cover letter. Address your potential employer and company personally in the caption. NEVER write, “to whom it may concern.” NEVER. Doing so only lets the potential employer know that you either didn’t have time or were too lazy to do any research to find out who you were writing to. You want them to pay you for your work, right? So put a little effort into your cover letter. A quick Google search should tell you to whom you should address your cover letter. If not, then give them a call and politely ask the receptionist (or whoever else may answer the phone), and he or she will gladly tell you.

Second, customize. Do research on the company before you apply. What do they do? Why are you interested in working there? What is their mission statement? What specific skills and/or education do you have that would help further that mission statement? In essence, by doing research and customizing your cover letter to the specific job, you are showing your potential employer that you want to contribute to their cause.

In a follow-up post, cover letters will be covered (pardon the pun) in depth. Until then, go to Google and find the resources, such as cover letter samples, that will help you create a solid cover letter.

3. Target Your Résumé

No two jobs are exactly the same. So, no two résumés should be the exact same, either. This tip goes hand-in-hand with your research of your potential employer. Highlight specific strengths tailored to the targeted position you hope to have. Tweak every résumé just a little to customize it to that specific potential job title. A little tweaking (not to be read as “twerking”) goes a long way in getting your foot in the door for that first interview. The best way to do this is to find out how the company services its customers, and tailor your résumé to show how your strengths will benefit those customers.

4. Utilize Your LinkedIn Profile.

Referencing your LinkedIn profile in your résumé is a good idea. Place the link in your “contact” section just after your email address. Your LinkedIn profile may provide extra information that you cannot fit onto a one page résumé, and gives your potential employer an opportunity to quickly find out more about you if he or she wishes.

Of course, this is only effective if you have a LinkedIn profile (if not, create one here). A LinkedIn profile is your online résumé. There, you can highlight your experience and strengths, as well as share pertinent articles, engage in professional discussions, and network. If you have one, make sure that it is fully developed before referencing it on a résumé.

Further, if you are going to reference LinkedIn or any other social profile, make sure your online presence is clean and professional. The last thing you want is for your potential employer to love your résumé, only to have your chances at an interview killed by your unprofessionalism on social media.

In all, there are a lot of tips for writing a solid résumé. These are some key ones. Do them right, and yours will stand head and shoulders above the average résumé.

Do you have any other tips or advice? Let us know in the comments!

 

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