May 13, 2011

Put Your Résumé to Work

Whether you’re first entering the workforce or just ready for a change to increase your salary, your résumé needs to separate you from the crowd and highlight your skills. Here are 3 tips to help put your résumé to work for you:

1. Less Is More

First and foremost, your résumé should describe your ability to do the job you’re applying for. Injecting elements of your character and personality is great, but don't be too wordy. Instead, enhance your résumé with action words like “achieved,” “measured,” and “designed” that describe who you are and what you’ve accomplished.

2. Play to Your Strengths

In general, you should list your work experience in reverse chronological order near the top of your résumé, followed by your education, and then any awards or acknowledgements that you’ve earned. This demonstrates that you’re following a career track that has featured increased and related responsibilities as you’ve progressed from one job to the next.

However, if your previous positions don’t align with your career goals or you don’t have much experience in your desired field, consider moving your education section higher on the page.

3. Be Easy on the Eyes

It’s important to make your résumé stand out and reflect your personal style. But make sure you keep it tasteful. You want to be memorable for all the right reasons, so keep these standards in mind:

  • Use 10 or 12 font size—anything smaller can be difficult to read, and anything larger can make it look like you’re trying too hard to fill up space.
  • Use only one font. It’s alright to vary the size slightly for emphasis, but using multiple fonts usually looks sloppy.
  • Bold important information, but only sparingly so it doesn’t lose its impact.
  • Avoid using all capital letters and italics. These styles can be hard to read.
  • Proofread it over, and over, and over—then, ask someone you trust to proofread it, too. Nothing will move your résumé to the bottom of the stack faster than a typo.

Additional Resources

For more information on how to put your résumé to work for you, check out the great advice on careerbuilder.com and monster.com.