by Lorie Knighton
With the workforce as competitive as it is, you need to do something to stand out. There are many ways to raise the bar and prevent your resume from ending up in the trash bin. If you want it to go straight to the top of the pile of all the other applicants, here are a few tips for how you can make a great impression on the companies you’re applying to.
1. Find the Style and Design that Fits.
If you’re looking to work in a field that’s on the more artistic side, you might be able to get away with things like adding color and/or varying fonts on your resume. Oftentimes, however, it’s better to stick with something more traditional and businesslike. Do your homework and spend time researching your company online. If adding a little flare to your resume will make you stand out above the rest, go for it. If it’ll make you seem unprofessional, keep away!
2. Make Your References Count.
Don’t take this part lightly — choose your references wisely. Maybe you use your manager from an internship you held; maybe it’s a professor you worked especially close with. Provide the contact information for people who know you well. Whatever you do, don’t lie and use a relative or close friend posing as a professional reference. How embarrassing would that be if you got caught? And it would certainly tarnish your credibility, wouldn’t it?
While on the topic of lying, here’s another good tip: Don’t do it — ever!! Employers have ways of finding out if you’re telling the truth. If you’re planning on totally stretching the truth, maybe you shouldn’t bother applying at all. Honesty is the best policy, or maybe you can go out and seek the experience you need for your resume!
3. Take the Opportunity to Brag… a Little.
Do you have any special qualifications or skill sets? Did you receive any special awards or certificates during school or any previous jobs/internships? Now’s the time to bring those up; but do so in a humble fashion. You don’t want to come off as believing that you know more than your potential future employer.
4. Appearances Matter.
This is a time when people will judge a book by its cover; and if your resume is sloppy and unorganized, don’t assume that they will even bother reading it. Don’t just line up your credits using the spacebar — they won’t come out evenly! Insert a table in whatever program you’re using (Word, etc.) and put your credits in there. Choose appropriate margins: If they’re too big, it’ll look like you don’t have anything to say; if they’re too small, it’ll look like you have too much to say.
Creating a resume isn’t something you rush through. Don’t feel bad if it takes you a few weeks to make a neat, tidy, succinct one. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did it — especially when the employer you’ve been after calls you up to offer you the job.
Lorie Knighton writes for higher education blogs, such as articles on highest paying Master’s Degrees.