5 Universal Rules for an Impressive Resume

Did you roll your eyes at the obvious listicle nature of our article title?  If you’re reading this and you still clicked through anyway, you know the importance of key takeaways and fundamental advice when it comes to resume crafting.  Sure, we may have resorted to promises of greatness to lure you in, but the truth of the matter is that most resume crafting comes down to a handful of basic common traits.  Good news for those of you willing to dive into reading despite our obvious ploys, Rescue My Resumes has five (really, truly) universal rules for building an impressive resume.  So sit back, relax, and read up on the recipe to resume glory!

Keep Things Brief

What do internet how-to articles and resumes have in common?  It turns out that the average attention span of the typical reader of each is decidedly low.  Modern employers take an average of six seconds on an initial overview of a candidate’s resume.  This assumes that an actual person is reviewing your resume in the first place.  In many cases, a computer program will often take the first crack at analyzing and weeding out applications that make it through to a hiring manager or other living and breathing decision maker.  

To help overcome both human and machine-made obstacles, be sure your resume is short, sweet, and to the point.  Most modern resumes average no more than a page in length. Include your recent jobs with short, active sentences describing your experience and avoid lengthy introduction paragraphs or mission statement style headings if you find your resume stretching on past the prescribed limits.

Be Relevant

If the first thing listed on your resume is that singing pizza telegram delivery job you held in High School, chances are your resume is going to find its way to the recycle bin faster than you can belt out Happy Birthday.  Your resume should always be structured so that the most recent job experiences appear first and foremost. In addition, every year or so schedule an annual resume review session. Remove old and outdated information including primary school credits and early jobs that are no longer applicable to your current career role.  This will ensure that the person reviewing your resume actually sees the information they need to make a decision to bring you in for an interview, first and foremost.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread (and Then Proofread Again)

Few things are worse in a resume than listing “High Atention to Detale” as a relevant skillset.  Your resume is often the first and only chance you’ll have to convince an employer you’re worthy of consideration for an open job.  Given the typical brevity, (see above note on the page limit) errors in spelling, formatting, and punctuation are bound to stand out like a sore thumb.

Before sending your resume off into the world, give it a critical look for any potential typos, errors, or inconsistencies.  Consider sending it off to a close friend or colleague for additional review from a fresh set of eyes. Last but not least, you can also upload your resume onto RescueMyResumes.com for a professional review and suggestions on improvements.  With this many options for proofreading, there should be zero excuses for glaring typos.

Don’t Stand Out (In a Bad Way)

Following along in theme, whether its typos or other errors, standing out from the crowd in a negative fashion in your resume is a sure fire way to not be considered for that job of your dreams.  In today’s competitive job market, most open positions will see tens if not hundreds of candidate resumes submitted. A resume chalk full of mistakes or that otherwise draws negative attention to itself will be so outside the norm that even a wealth of experience may not be able to make up for the shortcomings.

In addition to errors, avoid using fancy fonts, unorthodox formatting, or attention-getting items such as graphics and colored letters.  Not only can some of these items make your resume harder to read, but they also give the impression of a less than a professional candidate. Sure, there are plenty of ways to spice up a resume with modern looking layouts, but stick to the more conservative among these and give your personality and skills the chance to shine.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Last but not least on our list of the top five rules for an impressive resume is a reminder of the old adage that one size does not fit all.  Whether this is your favorite top that fit when you wore in your college days or your professional resume 10 years into your career, remember to assess your current situation before sending your creation off into the world.  

In many cases, an experienced job-seekers resume will put the emphasis on prior positions and will delve into specific skills, certifications, and accomplishments.  For a recent grad, education will be first and foremost, along with volunteer positions and internships to avoid drawing attention to the lack of hands-on experience.  On a similar note, different industries and job titles may call for slightly different formatting in the resume department. If you have an engineering or another technical degree, for example, a list of certifications smack, dab at the top of your CV is a sure fire way to set the right tone for a follow-up interview.  

Have any other surefire recommendations for a killer resume or disagree with any of the items on our list?  Drop us a line in the comments and then head over to Rescue My Resumes to see how your current document matches up to our professional templates and advice.


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