Today’s resume must meet the qualifications of, at minimum, two different audiences. The goal is to get the resume into the hands of a hiring manager or recruiter – someone who must be interested in the content of your resume to consider you for their position. Before the resume ever makes it into that person’s hands, however, it is becoming more and more likely that it must first pass through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This software is being used by many employers to filter through resumes and pass along only the most relevant to the hiring manager. How do you make sure your resume passes both tests? These checklists are good places to start.
What To Include:
- Proper formatting – Include defined sections (such as “Education”) and bullet point lists so your resume is easy to read.
- Correct spelling and grammar – Constantly proofread your resume after every edit, and get a fresh set of eyes to look over your resume as well to catch anything you might miss.
- Uniform font type and size – The entire resume should be the same font, and headings or section titles should stand out in larger text than the bullet point lists. Your contact information should be the largest, easiest text to find.
- Keywords – Pass the ATS test with keywords that match the description for the job to which you are applying. Include the industry-specific keywords you know the employer will be looking for from their ideal candidate. For instance, an HVAC professional might include their NATE or RSES certifications.
- Contact information – Include your most recent phone number(s), a professional sounding email address, and your physical address. If you have a digital media page that showcases your qualifications or professional accomplishments, such as a LinkedIn page or website, include the link.
- Professional Pitch – Where everyone used to include an objective in their resume, you can provide a quick pitch to “wow” potential employers to read your entire resume.
- Education and Work Experience – Include the relevant training, certifications or degrees, and the relevant work experience you received that can be applied to the position. Your experience can be listed as a series of accomplishments, rather than just your job responsibilities in each position. For instance, an office manager may have “developed a digital filing system” for their office, as opposed to listing that they “moved all physical records to a digital format.”
What to Leave Off:
- Third-Party Voice or Unnecessarily Big Words – Your resume should read in the same conversational and approachable tone you would use in an interview.
- Polarizing Interests or Hobbies – Remember the person reading your resume may not share your enthusiasm or viewpoints on certain topics. If it doesn’t pertain to the job for which you are applying, don’t include it on your resume.
- Irrelevant Experience – Only include the education or experience that can be used to the benefit of your potential employer in your bullet point lists.
- Contact Information from Your Current Employer – Never include your work email or phone number as the means to reach you.
- Lies – If you lack a specific certification or work experience, focus instead on the skills you do possess.