You now have your very own resume. If you don’t, go read How to Write a Resume first then come back. Done? Good. Welcome back.
Writing your first resume can take a good few hours. But even after you finish you’re not really done. Here are 5 things to check and tweak to make sure you have the best chance at landing whatever it is you’re applying for.
1) MAKE IT SHORTER
No resume should ever be more than 2 pages long, let alone one of a high school graduate. Don’t do it. A one page resume is totally fine too by the way.
In the spirit of keeping it short, really really refine what you write in your resume so that you use the least amount of words possible. As the famous quote goes: “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” It may be frustrating but you need to capture the essence of who you are and what you’ve done without the details. You’re not meant to communicate everything on a resume; that’s what interviews are for. You just need to say enough to convince the hirer to take you to the next stage.
Here’s an example.
Instead of: “Was given the responsibility of overseeing an entire social media campaign. This involved crafting the message and using Photoshop to create the promotional image to accompany the message. Also analysed the approach taken by competitors as well as past posts and applied the learnings to maximise the impact of the campaign launch on Facebook. This resulted in 4000 people reached with 74 engagements including likes and shares which eventuated to 3 new customers.”
Simply write: Managed a social media campaign which reached over 4000 people, generated 74 engagements and converted into 3 new customers.
2) DO RESEARCH AND TAILOR
A resume is a living document. It changes and evolves. In fact, it should change for every single different job or opportunity you are applying for. When you apply for an opportunity, there is always something you can give, and something you can gain. Similarly on the other side of the table, the person offering the opportunity will also have something to give, and something they are looking to gain. And what that something is will be different for both sides every single time. Put simply, the way you position yourself in your resume for a casual retail job would be very different from how you would position yourself for a co-op or cadetship, a volunteering position or a financial scholarship. This also means doing thorough research on the organisations because chances are, they have already listed on their website a whole bunch of clues of what they are looking for.
3) USE BUZZWORDS, BUT BEE UNIQUE
See what we did there? Buzzwords are important to include in a resume but at the same time can make it seem generic and meaningless. Buzzwords are things like “passionate”, “initiative”, “achieved”, “innovative”, “empathetic” etc.
So why are they important? A lot of companies use software to automatically filter through resumes based upon the words that are contained within them. So you need these words to beat the computer.
But once you get through the computer, your resume will be read by a human. This human has probably read hundreds if not thousands of resumes just like yours. So how do you stand out and not look like you’ve just included these buzzwords because it makes you sound better than you may actually be? Tie them with examples! Instead of just throwing in the word “initiative”, demonstrate how you’ve actually taken initiative through your work experience or extra-curricular.
4) FUDGE, DON’T LIE
Okay so in the previous resume post, we taught you to fudge. This means taking who and what you are and making you sound the coolest and most awesome that you can be WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. It’s not about lying or making things up at all. This is because for one, your resume will form part of the interviews script and you’re really going to struggle talking about something that isn’t true. Secondly, even if you get through by faking it, you’ll most likely struggle in the actual role when they tell you to whip up a basic website because you put in your resume that you could write code when in reality all you’ve done is click on that Khan Academy video that one time.
5) THE LITTLE BIG THINGS
There are many little things beyond the actual substance of your content which will have a surprisingly significant impact on your resume. Here are a few pointers.
- Font: Use a font that is clear, modern and easy on the eyes on both screen and paper. Don’t be too fancy and unique with the font. This is something you want to keep quite standardised since “the perfect font” might not be supported by every computer which will really stuff things up. We recommend sticking with Arial or Calibri.
- Language: Always be professional and avoid flowery language. Yep that’s right – throw everything you’ve learnt in HSC English out the window. Also, do not write in first person or third person. Instead, write from a neutral perspective. For example, instead of writing “I maintained a safe work environment” or “Evan maintained a safe work environment”, write “Maintained a safe work environment”
- Layout: Just like font, layout is something you want to keep quite standard. Do not include images and try to use bullet points and headings where possible to simplify information.
- Colours: Keep it simple. Colours that you think look great might not be reciprocated by another person reading your resume and it can become a distraction. We recommend using no more than one other colour other than black in your resume. Also consider that your resume may be printed in black and white so avoid any light colours altogether.
- File format: PDF your resume. Firstly, it looks more professional and finalised. Secondly, PDF ensures that all the formatting you spent so much time on stays that way even on a different computer. The only warning is beware of whether a preferred or prescribed file format is requested by the application.
- Feedback: Simple. Ask someone else to proof-read your resume. It’s quite silly of you not to do this.
Again, feel free to post any questions or thoughts you have below and we’ll do our best to respond to them.