For many jobs, your résumé and cover letter will determine the first impression that your prospective employer gets of you and your employability. This can make you or break you in cases with lots of applicants. Even with this in mind, plenty of people are not sure how to properly format a résumé and make it presentable to employers. There are some simple ways to guarantee that your résumé is presentable and to avoid the stress of crafting a new copy with each application.
1. Have several versions
Having several versions of your résumé allows you to communicate the most valuable information for the specific job you are applying for. If you generally apply for jobs in the education and marketing sectors, then having one version which highlights your achievements working in education and one version which highlights your achievements working in marketing lets you show your prospective employers the most relevant experience for that specific job.
Similarly, having a generic version will allow you to get a résumé to a prospective employer quickly and allow you to avoid the stress of reformatting for that specific employer. Even if the employer is not in a sector that you have a version drafted for, the generic version allows you to show the employer that you are on your feet and aware of the fast-paced nature of modern business. Forcing your employer to wait several days while you draft a new version not only runs the risk of giving them time to forget about you, but also sends the message that you weren’t prepared for the request to see your résumé.
2. Save it online
Having your résumé saved online to a cloud server like Apple iCloud, Google Drive, or even a file-sharing service like Dropbox gives you easy-access and frees you from the limitations of your personal hard drive. Rather than telling a prospective employer, “I’ll get that to you when I get back to my laptop,” you can easily send a copy from your phone immediately after the conversation while the topic of your employment is fresh in her mind.
3. Keep it simple
Perhaps the most obvious of the tips here is that the ideal résumé is, above all other things, simple. Fonts should be easily-readable, meaning they shouldn’t be too small or be highly stylized. The background should be white. Your name should be front-and-center. Unless otherwise indicated, the only colors on the page should be white and black (some recommend that in the cases of highly-artistic jobs, the résumé itself should be a piece of art).
The Objective line is optional, but should generally be left off in cases where the résumé is joined by a cover letter. Otherwise, the Objective is superfluous and wastes a line, which could be used for something else.
Similarly, if you are a young person (i.e., haven’t graduated college or a recent college graduate), there is no reason for your résumé to be longer than one page. Even if you were incredibly active while in college, it is better to cut a few irrelevant things from your résumé than to make it one-and-a-half or two pages long and lose the interest of your potential employer.
While you are unlikely to send a copy of your online blog to your employer, blogging brings with it plenty of benefits. First, blogging allows you to keep your writing skills up to snuff and shows that you are interested and capable of writing in a coherent manner. Second, blogging, especially on your own time, shows an element of creativity insofar as it shows that you can take the time from your day to write about something that you hadn’t written on before. Third, the ability to run a well-formatted blog and keep it updated shows a minimum level of tech-savviness that is necessary to get by in the 21st Century. Fourth, the blog is a reflection of you, and may actually be a better reflection than your résumé.
If the purpose of the résumé is to let your employer get to know you, then the blog is the perfect résumé. Put the URL to your blog with the contact information on your résumé and drop a few dollars to rent your own domain name. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform and allows users to rent domain names for a low price every year.
5. Market, market, market!
If there is any theme to keep in mind while crafting a résumé, it is to keep in mind that you are marketing yourself and your services to your potential employer. The résumé shouldn’t be a list of your achievements and what a successful person you are. Rather, it should be a narrative, explaining to your potential employer how you will create value for their organization and why it should be you that they decide to employ at the end of the day.
If you keep in mind that the hiring process is actually a negotiation of an exchange between you and the employer, then you will have a leg-up over other applicants in approaching the process as a whole. You are a product. Make the employer want you.