How to Get the Most Out of Your Resume

05/14/2013 09:40 am 09:40:47 | Updated Jul 14, 2013

As it has always been said, your resume is your ticket to that job interview. A handful of excellent applicants never get considered for their dream job all because they sent in a poorly-written resume. So to make sure you get your foot on the boat, here is a checklist of the most important things to consider when drafting your resume.

1. Keep it Uncluttered

Your potential employer will have tons of resume to filter through every single day. Because of this, he will not be going through your resume thoroughly at the initial stage. Therefore, to get your resume noticed, you must first pass the scanning stage.

Having a concise and tidy resume can help you score some additional points with the reviewer. By having subtitles and headings, the recruiter can easily get an overview of the main points in your resume. Here are some things that you should keep in mind when preparing your resume:

• Keep your resume length around two to five pages.
• You are making a resume, not a greeting card, so don't make it too fancy.
• Sell, don't tell! Do not just write about what you have done. Explain and support it with figures to demonstrate your abilities and success
• Avoid technical jargons (as your initial reviewer will most likely be from the Human Resource Department).
• Maximize the use of active words such as "created," "improved," "accomplished," etc.

2) Use a Standardized Font

The best choices for fonts will usually be Times New Roman, Georgia, Arial and Tahoma with their size between ten to twelve. These fonts are commonly used and are easy on the eyes of the reviewer. Of course, you can download and use other font choices to make your resume look different, but make sure that it looks professional. Unless you are applying for a job as a creative designer or software artist, avoid using fancy colors and stylish fonts. For titles and headings, you will want to use a bigger font size and have it bolded. As for explanations to the title/heading, a smaller font size should be used. The aim here is to make your resume as readable as possible.

3) Keep Your Key Points on Top

If your resume does pass the initial stages, it is highly possible that your resume will be handed over to the hiring manager for review. The problem with managers is that they often do not have the time to read through everything that you have written. Thus, it is vital that you keep your important points and your strong cards at the top of each section.

Whether it is your education, work experience and co-curricular activities, you will want to ensure that you have your strongest point highlighted. Many people like to prepare their resume chronologically (most recent items on top, older items at the bottom). Presenting your resume in this format is neat, but you risk a chance of the employer missing out your major highlights. If you successfully carried out a major project five years ago, it will most probably be buried by your recent achievements which might be less prolific.

Therefore, you should think through whether you want to use a chronological presentation format. If you have some major highlights that you want your future employer to notice, we suggest that you dump the format and put your key points on top. And if you have several good points, cut the not-so-remarkable ones off.

4) Update Your Resume Regularly

As mentioned above, it is always good to keep a concise resume. As you move on in your career, you will muster up more and more relevant experiences. Therefore, it is important to update this information in your resume. If your resume is already quite long in itself, you will want to delete some of the less vital or redundant information. For example, if you are already a project senior manager, it would be a wise move to delete some of the items that you did when you were a project junior or executive (only maintain the big contributions during that time, if there are any).

Also, as you move further along in your career, you will also get to widen your knowledge and expertise in your chosen field. Like if you started off in finance, after several years you will see yourself specializing into different sectors of finance such as consumer banking, investments, auditing, financial consulting, etc. What you will want to do here is to amend your resume according to your industry and market segment. While your resume was more general when you applied for your first job, as you move up the corporate ladder and amass tons of relevant knowledge and experience, you will want a resume that is more detailed and specific to the position that you are applying to.

If you are too lazy to update your resume on a regular basis, start an account on LinkedIn or check some resume samples available online. You can update your profile each time you reach a certain milestone. And when it is time to quit your current job, update your resume based on your profile on LinkedIn. This ensures that you do not miss out on any key points that might just help you score your dream job.

5) Check and Recheck for Possible Errors and/or Omissions

Grammatical and spelling errors are always a turnoff. Having too many of these errors might cause your resume to end up in the reject pile, even if you are good enough for the job. Often times, you will miss out your own mistakes. Therefore, it is good for you to get someone with a good command of English to proofread and amend your resume accordingly. They can also provide you feedback on how to improve your resume. Do not rely on the automatic spell check or grammar correction in Microsoft Word as it tends to miss out some of the less obvious errors. One thing you should definitely check for (as Microsoft Word will often miss) is homophones. Homophones are words that sound exactly alike yet are spelled differently (such as two, too, and to). Software-based grammar check will often miss homophones.