Let's Talk About Your Resume
Much more than a summary of your education and work experience, your resume is the primary tool with which you market yourself.
A great resume will most likely be the reason a prospective employer selects you for the interview rather than someone else, and it’s what you leave behind after the first interview is complete.
During your job search, your resume is both the digital and paper version of you.
Your Resume Format and Style:
- You should have both a Microsoft Word doc and a PDF version of your resume available.
- Keep your format simple, clean and consistent.
- Use standard fonts and font sizes, black text and a white background.
- Use indents rather than tabs.
- Do not add lines, photos or artwork.
- Keep bolding and italics to a minimum.
- Do not add hidden keywords.
Your Resume Length:
During the “Apply Now” phase, candidates with ten or less years of work history should try to limit their resume length to one page, if possible.
However, candidates with ten or more years of work history may need to use a two-page resume in order to allow enough space to include all of their pertinent education, skills and employment history.
Your Resume Content...
What should you cut?
What is missing?
What is important?
What is not?
These are important questions to examine next.
What to add or cut?
In your efforts to manage your resume’s length, don’t take too many liberties with what you cut from your education and employment history.
Be 100% prepared when filling out an employment application or during a face-to-face interview to fill in what was shortened or left out on your resume so you always provide an accurate representation of your actual background.
Today most companies, including JobGiraffe, perform extensive employment and education verifications and any omissions of past employers or changing of employment or education dates may cost you an offer.
Here are some other tips on what to include – and what not to:
Add an objective? For people just entering the workforce or changing careers or fields, an objective provides a great opportunity to highlight the type of position you are interested in.
Add reference information? For the purpose of securing a first interview, indicating references are "available upon request" is sufficient. But once you have met with a prospective employer, be prepared to provide references.
Always confirm that the references you list are agreeable to providing a reference for you - and how best to contact them.
Add hobbies and interests? Your passion for fly-fishing is nice, but it is not important in the resume phase. Yet, if during the interview phase you notice the potential employer's prize catch mounted on the wall, it might be a good time to mention it!
The same goes for involvement with charitable organizations or community service. Adding this information to your resume can be meaningful and even helpful. But, if you decide not to include this information, and an interviewer asks you to "tell them something about yourself" be prepared to share your volunteerism as it too can make a difference!
Have multiple resume versions? Adjusting your resume to better fit specific types of job openings can be helpful, but don’t go too far. Prospective employers can tell when you have written your resume just to fit their job description. Adding pertinent keywords or phrases to your resume is helpful, but do not overload your resume with them, and never add "hidden" keywords or phrases.
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation? It’s time for some JobGiraffe tough love; it’s up to you to proof your resume for spelling and punctuation errors and spell-check mix-ups. (Should it be there or their?) Absolutely NO spelling errors are acceptable on your resume.
You may take some liberties with grammar and punctuation in your resume, but remember, you are being judged almost entirely by your resume at this point in the interview process, so take the time to make it look, read and sound right.
Most important - keep your style consistent. Either use all complete sentences or no complete sentences. Make sure your tenses agree and your "voice" is consistently active or passive. If an employer has multiple candidates applying for one position, the best-written resume will win.
A Deeper Discussion on Accuracy and Honesty
We know that some candidates wonder if modifying their employment history may give them a better chance at getting an interview or securing a job offer.
JobGiraffe has been placing candidates for 50 years and no matter what type of job market we are in, we have learned the best answer is to stick with the truth. Trust how open minded potential employers can be – and how marketable you can remain - as long as you are open and honest.
Having too many jobs, short-term employment, gaps in employment or even being fired can be overcome if handled in a straight-forward, open and honest way. Oftentimes a candidate's willingness to confront difficult issues within their work history can turn the situation into a positive for getting the job, not a negative.
Here are some specific examples:
Education – Do not identify yourself as being a degreed college graduate unless you are 100% certain that your institution will verify it. Lying about educational achievement is one of the fastest 'knock-out' components amongst employers, recruiters and staffing companies today – especially JobGiraffe. We will check.
Four years of college is not the same as a degree. Two classes short is not the same as a degree. Still owing the university money and having an unavailable transcript is not the same as a degree. Most employers will accept the truth with no problem, but the lie will likely cost you the job.
Trade Schools and Certifications - The same rules apply; if it can’t be verified when the institution is contacted and/or if you don’t have the certificate and/or you cannot produce indisputable proof you completed the program successfully, don’t list it as completed.
Military Service – Make sure you list all of your information completely and correctly including dates of service, branch of the military, rank attained, training received and any awards or recognition you earned. Also be prepared that you will be asked to produce your DD214. Military service is something to be proud of and it is a valuable part of your work history, but like employment and education, it will also be verified.
Employment History – As mentioned above, although you have a little latitude when listing previous jobs in the resume phase, do not omit jobs or adjust dates once you enter the interview and application phase.
You must be prepared to share your complete and accurate employment history with JobGiraffe and all prospective employers. Big discrepancies between your resume, your employment application and the reality of the verification results will eliminate your candidacy for certain.
After 50 years of experience in placing great job seekers with great companies, JobGiraffe knows the importance of a great resume. Following the advice above will help you to stand out above the crowd.
JobGiraffe – Reach Higher®