12 Tips to Building a Resume That Gets You Hired

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In a tough job market, a resume can help you stand out. Here are a dozen ways to get and hold a hiring manager's attention.

When applying for a job, your resume is the essential tool that helps you get a foot in the door.

So, how do you write a resume that makes you stand out from the competition in the tough job market we face today?

Following are a dozen tips that can help.

1. Focus on the position you are pursuing

Read the job description to determine how your skills match the qualifications the employer lists. Then emphasize those details in the summary of your work experience, skills and accomplishments. That will get a hiring manager’s attention.

Many big companies scan resumes submitted online to weed out those that don’t meet their criteria. So use keywords from the job description in your resume.

2. Don’t just list work history

Employers want to know what you have achieved in your career. Accomplishments separate winning candidates from those who don’t make the cut.

Quantify your successes if you can and be as specific as possible. Replace vague claims like “worked in loss prevention and saved money” by telling the employer how much money you saved, and exactly how you did it.

3. Emphasize job titles, not dates

Salary.com says hiring managers review resumes quickly: A brief read, and it’s done. So keep them focused on the important details. The website adds:

When listing past employment, instead of listing dates first, list them last. A good order is: title/position, name of employer, city/state of employer, and then dates.

4. Tell the truth

Never fabricate a few elements on your resume or cover letter to boost credibility or expertise.

A CareerBuilder survey revealed that 58 percent of hiring managers say they have caught a lie on a resume.

Because employers are aware of this common practice, they often go beyond basic reference checks and conduct background checks and employment verifications to validate the information that candidates provide.

Even if your lie flies under the radar and you land the job, you’re at risk for termination if the employer discovers the lie later.

5. Omit unnecessary details

A job application and resume are two distinct documents, so don’t load the latter up with a ton of nonessential information.

If you are a college graduate, you typically don’t need to list your high school diploma on your resume. If you’re a seasoned accounting professional, omit your college job at Krispy Kreme.

6. Start with a great summary

Use the space at the top of the resume to briefly communicate the experience and skills that make you a great fit for the open position.

7. Don’t get personal

The recruiter isn’t interested in any identifying information other than your name, address, email and phone number. Do not include any references to your religion, personal values or family.

8. Avoid unusual or overly long text

Your resume should be easy on the eyes. Use bullet points instead of paragraphs. Forget a lot of colors and a variety of fonts. Simple and clean is the preferred look.

9. Proofread your work

A second set of eyes on your resume is essential before you submit it. Mistakes such as a misspelling, typo or grammatical error communicate that you are not attentive to detail.

10. Don’t rely too much on templates

Relying too much on any online resume template tells the hiring manager you couldn’t take the time to individualize your resume. A template is merely a place to start.

11. Don’t ramble

A resume is not your life story. So cover the important information and keep it brief. The appropriate length depends on your work history.

A CareerBuilder survey found the following:

Employers have different expectations for resume length based on tenure in the workforce. For new college graduates, 66 percent of employers said a resume should be one page long. For seasoned workers, the majority of employers (77 percent) said a resume should be at least two pages.

12. Lose the reference footer

No need to disclose that “references are available upon request.” A potential employer will assume this information is readily available.

Do you have resume tips that have helped you land a job? Share them in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

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