It’s easy to get discouraged on the job search during the summer months, with somewhat of a characteristic lull in activity and response from companies with whom you have applied or interviewed. But do not despair! Now is the best time to ramp up your own activity. As we say here at EDI Specialists, you want to build up a wave of activity that you can ride through the slower months.
Many candidates are taking vacations or otherwise enjoying the summer weather, making this a perfect time for you to launch your attack. The competition is certainly still out there, but if you stay diligent you will remain a strong fighting force.
Here are some quick tips to consider while you update your resume this summer to keep up with the competition. Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to refresh yourself. You would really be surprised at the number of poorly-written resumes I see on a daily basis, and how many candidates with valuable skills are passed over by hiring managers due to a sloppy resume. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but covers some of the more common resume problems I come across.
- Always (ALWAYS) perform a spelling and grammar check after every update to your resume. This is one of the most important suggestions I can make. There are few things that will get you taken out of consideration faster than careless spelling errors. I had a professor in college who enforced a strict “One Grade Letter Error” policy, where each and every careless spelling/grammar mistake would cost you one grade letter. A there/their/they’re error would quickly turn an “A” paper into a less impressive B. It might seem harsh, but think about it. Between two candidates with similar skills, would you hire the Systems Administrator or the Systams Administrator (I have actually seen this exact spelling error before, more than once…in the same resume)?
- It is a good idea to tailor your resume to each position you apply for, but never (NEVER!) copy and paste information from a job description into your resume in an attempt to make your resume appear to be a better match.
- List your duties and responsibilities for each position in the form of bullet points rather than in a wall-of-text. Be sure your details are well-articulated.
- Include impressive measurable details if possible (for example, a bullet describing how you “improved key business processes resulting in $40M annual company savings and 250% departmental revenue increase” will be of more interest to a hiring manager than a bullet simply stating “involved in business process improvement”).
- Use a standard professional font such as Times New Roman, in size 11 or 12. You might think a different font will make your resume stand out, but if you are applying for a professional position you should definitely avoid more casual fonts (such as the ever-popular Comic Sans MS) and odd sizing.
- Make ample use of “white space,” or open areas on your resume to make it easy on the eyes. Double spacing is not necessary or recommended, but you should a line space between the final bullet of one position and the employer details of the next position. Also be sure to use at least default word processor margins.
- In describing your skill sets, do not write down every piece of software you have ever used. Unless it is relevant to the position you are applying for, you do not need to include that you are skilled in navigating the Internet with various web browsers such as Internet Explorer 7.x/8.x/9.x, Mozilla Firefox and Safari or that you have experience with MS Paint.
- Listing your GPA under an Education section is not really necessary unless you have relatively few years of experience or are applying for an entry-level job, and even then you should only include your GPA if it is high (3.8/3.9 or better). You can also include notable Latin honors such as Summa Cum Laude. In most cases, experience will be more important than even a high GPA; someone with 15-20+ years of experience does not add much to their resume by indicating that they graduated over a decade or two ago with a 4.0.
- If applicable, include affiliations with relevant professional organizations.
- Do not feel like you have to keep your resume to one or two pages. If it does go beyond that, be sure all information you include is relevant to the position you are applying for.
- Use tables, grids and overly fancy formatting sparingly (not everyone uses the same document viewer and what looks great on your screen could look like a mess to a hiring manager).
- Avoid excessive use of bolding, italics and underlining. Less is more. I would recommend using both bolding and underlining for the heading of each section of your resume (Summary of Qualifications, Skill Sets, Professional Experience and Education, for example), bolding only for each sub-heading (skill set categories and employer/dates of employment/job title), and avoiding italics entirely.
Summary of Qualifications
Write a well-articulated summary of your core skills/strengths here.
Operating Systems: Windows, Linux
Programming Languages: C++, Java
Name of Employer, City, State June 2001 – Present
Responsibilities include: (followed by a list of bullet points)
Name of Institution, City, State
Bachelor of Science – Computer Science, May 2001
Leave a Reply