Your resume is a tool which provides a first impression to a prospective employer. It is important to ensure that the impression they get is as positive and impressive as it can possibly be, so that they want to find out more by inviting you in for an interview.
Your resume says a lot about you, and may say more than you realise. Some of the things you may not know that you are telling a prospective employer include:
1. How well you have researched current job searching practices.
If your resume starts off with an objective statement, or lists personal information that is not relevant to the role (e.g. date of birth or marital status), it is telling your potential employer that you have not bothered to do your homework on currently acceptable protocol and trends. Ensuring that all information provided is relevant and professional speaks volumes towards helping you make the best possible first impression.
2. Your ability to concisely summarise information.
With regards to your Resume, less is definitely more. It can be tempting to try and pad out your Resume with heaps of details in an attempt to make it look more impressive, but this can actually detract from your first impression and increases the likelihood that they may not even bother to read it. It is important to be as concise as possible. The current expectation for resumes is no longer than two pages, regardless of the length of your career. It may be daunting to try and summarise your achievements within two pages, but avoid the temptation to go over that limit. Exceptions may be made for curriculum vitaes if you are in the medical or academic profession, but the rest of us have to keep it brief. Concisely communicating information is a critical component of many jobs, so it is your best interest to showcase this ability in your resume. It may help to limit your listed experience to the last ten years, or twenty at the very most.
3. Your ability to use correct spelling and grammar.
Confusing to, too and two or your and you're is increasingly common in today's autocorrect society but your resume is one place to make sure you are perfect. Typos or grammatical errors in your resume can cost you the opportunity for interview. Don't just rely on your spell check, read it, re-read it, have a friend read it and then read it backwards to make sure there are no mistakes on your resume.
4. Your computer skills.
A prospective employer often wants to know that you know your way around word processing software. Ensure that your margins are aligned, spaces are uniform, consistent font is used throughout your Resume and that it all looks neat and easy to read. This will also ensure that important information is easy to find – the average time that an employer will view your Resume for is 6 seconds! It is important to make sure that the important information is clear and easy to find. Good formatting will assist with this.
5. Your attention to detail.
While you may list “attention to detail” as one of your key attributes within the content of your Resume, inaccurate dates or missing information may indicate that this is not in fact the case. Ensure all of the key details are accurate and included – it is more important than you might think. Getting a critical friend to help you edit can be useful in picking up missing information.
6. How seriously you take yourself and this potential job.
If your resume looks slapped together, with little forethought, it sends the message that this job isn't that important to you, whether that's true or not. No matter what the time pressure, take the time to create a professional-looking, contemporary, accurate and up-to-date resume. Always include up-to-date referee contact details rather than writing “referee details can be provided upon request” as this may look like you are either trying to hide something or haven’t taken the time to organise a reference before sending in your application.