5 Quick Resume Tips for the Class of 2009

Imagine you’re the hiring manager at a company.  You’re given the task of finding a new entry-level candidate for your firm and you sit down to look over the potential employees.  Sounds like fun until you realize that you have several hundred resumes to look through.  How can you begin to differentiate between all the people who are “effective managers with strong personal communication skills?”  Your resume is the first impression that a potential employer will have about you and for most of us, it’s the only opportunity we have to get our foot in the door.  Here are a few tips that the Class of 2009 can use to hopefully stand out in a stack of resumes.  

1.  Differentiate Through Design

Take the time to make your resume stand out visually.  If these means fooling around with Microsoft Word or hiring a professional resume designer to create something for you, the design of your resume is an immediate opportunity to have your resume scanned for a little bit longer.  Take the time to find a different style of paper to have your resume printed on and NEVER send a resume on plain white computer paper.

2.  Make It Easy To Read

Whenever I’m looking through resumes, I always appreciate it when people are able to convey a lot of information with as few words as possible.  Your resume will only receive about 30 seconds of desk time and you don’t want the employer reading through your paragraph about the strength and depth of your secretarial skills.  Use short sentences and bullet points to point out key areas that you’d like for the employer to notice.  Make sure that your resume is structured in a fashion that allows for the eyes to move quickly and not get hung up on any particular area.  

3.  Make It Personal To The Employer

Really try to avoid blanketing a group of potential employers with a generic resume and cover letter.  During such difficult economic times, employers are forced to look through more and more applicants and a generic resume says “I don’t really care enough to take the time to make a good impression.”  If you are applying for a position in a public relations firm, it may not be important to discuss your experience as a clerk at the local grocery store.  Find ways to convey how you will meet the demands of the job for which you are applying.

4.  All You Should Need is One Page

I’ve seen some of the most accomplished people I’ve ever met fit their experience on one sheet of paper.  The idea is to select experiences that make you the ideal candidate for the job and trying to eliminate as much “fluff” as possible.  If your resume is only going to receive about 30 seconds of face time, do you really think they are going to read the second or third page?  

5.  GPA or No GPA?

One thing I notice about many students entering the job market is their concern about whether or not they should provide their college GPA.  In speaking to hiring managers and advisers at career centers, I have come up with following rule regarding putting your GPA on your resume:  Provide your GPA if it is above a 3.0.   The rationale behind this rule is that most employers are looking for candidates with a solid educational background and a 3.0 tends to be the cut-off point for most recruiters.  If you don’t have a GPA above 3.0, don’t worry.  Just provide your educational degree and only address the GPA question if asked.  By not putting a GPA lower than 3.0 on your resume, you have limited the chance that your resume will discarded based simply on your college grades.  

See your resume as your opportunity to “WOW” the potential employer.  While the job search can become very tedious, try to avoid dumping generic resumes on hundreds of companies.  Be strategic and creative and good things will start to happen.  If you use these few tips, I guarantee you will see better results and receive more requests for interviews.

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