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Have you ever found a job that you felt was meant for you? You applied with absolute enthusiasm, told all your friends and family, and waited for that call … and waited … and waited. Finally you get that dreaded email from the HR Department thanking you for submitting your application and explaining that, although impressive, they have decided that your credentials are not up to snuff with some of the other resumes they’ve received. You’re surprised, frustrated, and perhaps even devastated as you sit and ponder where you went wrong.

Revise Your Resume

You might have the education. You might have the experience. You might even have the references and stats to show that you’re qualified, but, if you can’t get potential employers to read your resume, it doesn’t matter. A good resume can make all the difference and, while it probably won’t get you hired on the spot, it can open doors and windows of opportunity that may never open for you otherwise. That’s why it’s critical to routinely revise your resume for length, look, and language.

Length

When revising your resume, keep in mind that it should not exceed two pages in length. Your resume does not need to detail all of your past work experience – that’s what interviews are for. Think of your resume as a personal ad. You have limited space to grab the recruiter’s attention without losing it in the same beat. You don’t want to include so much information that the recruiter thinks they know everything they need to know about you, but you also don’t want to leave out important qualifications at the risk of being overlooked. A good resume finds a balance between essential information and stand-out qualifications.

Look

One of the easiest ways to grab a recruiter’s attention is the overall look of your resume. Consider the position that you’re applying for. A resume for a graphic design position is going look a lot different than a resume for a job in the medial field. Regardless of what job you’re applying for, always present your qualifications in a clean, legible format that is clearly organized. Pay attention to page margins, as well as the alignment of headings and any other format design features, such as bulleted lists.

How you organize your resume will depend on a number of different factors, including your level of education and experience. If you are a recent graduate or applying to a new field, place your education experience first. If you have some relevant experience and have been out of school for more than 5 years, you may want to consider listing your professional qualifications first. For qualified professional with a work history of more than 15 years, it is recommended that you forego a traditional work history layout for a streamlined format that showcases your core competencies and accomplishments.

Language

Your resume is not an essay. Keep your sentences short and to the point. In fact, in many cases you’ll find that fragmented sentences work better than full sentences with regard to summarizing your past work history. Use action verbs to describe your prior responsibilities and/or accomplishments. This eliminates unnecessary length and holds the recruiter’s attention.

 

For example:

I analyzed weekly enrollment reports to determine the effectiveness of the company’s marketing campaigns.

Should be presented as:

Analyzed weekly enrollment reports to determine effectiveness of marketing campaigns

 

A variety of action verbs with succinct descriptions is extremely effective. Structuring your sentences this way allows you to show your accomplishments without getting the reader lost in long, complicated language that is difficult to understand.

Keep in mind that the person reviewing your resume might very well not be qualified for the position you are applying for. Choose your words wisely. Applicants should refrain from using highly technical language. Do not get caught up in the pitfalls of wanting to sound qualified rather than showing that you are qualified. If you’re unsure, ask a friend or family member to proof your resume for readability. Feedback from others can be invaluable and give you a real sense of how you come across in your resume.

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