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7 Tips for Creating an Effective Resume

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In your quest to get off the sidelines and into the job of your dreams, your resume is either your best friend or your worst enemy.

A well-written, high-quality resume helps you stand out from the crowd, while a poor resume quickly finds its way to the trash. Whether you choose to write your own resume or have it put together by a professional, incorporate these tips to maximize your employment potential.

  1. Display Contact Information Clearly

    Make sure all your pertinent contact information is displayed clearly at the top of your resume. At a minimum, include your full name, address, cell phone number, email address, and Twitter handle, if you have one. Social media plays and ever-greater role in the hiring process, so clean up your accounts and make sure they're workplace-appropriate before providing this information to potential employers. If you're not currently on Twitter, consider setting up an account and following companies and influencers within your chosen field.

  2. Focus on Achievements

    Positive adjectives that describe your professional capabilities are nice, but brief snippets of information about your professional achievements are better. For example, instead of writing "self-starter," write "created and implemented a social media marketing campaign that resulted in a 15% increase in sales." Or, instead of writing "consistent," write "led a sales team to hit projections for a record 20 consecutive months."

  3. Use Keywords, Not Jargon

    Avoid industry jargon, which can read as generic and insincere, but include relevant keywords. This is especially true when applying for jobs online, where it's common for hiring managers to use industry keyword queries to narrow the applicant field. For instance, instead of using the title Sales Team Lead, match your title with keywords mentioned in the job posting, such as Sales Manager, so your resume doesn't get filtered out before being seen.

  4. Check for Grammar

    Misspellings, improper use of words, or poorly placed punctuation can land your resume in the "no" pile. When hiring managers are looking for ways to cull the herd, grammatical slip-ups can make your resume appear sloppy and unprofessional. Check every line of your resume, then check each line again. If you know an English teacher, professional editor, or someone with a high-level knowledge of grammar and syntax, ask for a quick edit.

  5. Use High-Quality Paper

    When submitting a resume by hand or mail, print it on high-quality paper. Consider linen paper with a paper weight of at least 24 pounds. It's great for resumes, and when matched with an envelope of the same style, it can help you stand out from the crowd.

  6. Eliminate Non-Essentials and Redundancies

    Hiring managers have a lot on their plates, so when sifting through resumes, they want submissions that are scannable, succinct, and offer only the most pertinent information. Leave out obvious facts that don't add anything to your employment pitch, and always check for redundancies. For instance, if you're a college graduate, there's no point in listing your high school education, and if you've held two similar positions, avoid repeating the same list of responsibilities for each job. Instead, feature the separate aspects of each position that add to your quality as a candidate.
  7. Remove Personal Information

    Employers aren't allowed to ask certain questions during the hiring process, so there's no reason to advertise that information on your resume. Any personal info regarding age, religion, family life, race, or health concerns should be removed.

After creating your resume, it's important to adjust it slightly for each job you apply to. Read job descriptions carefully and tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight each position's keywords and objectives. For instance, if you're applying to a company that values employee loyalty, add a sentence highlighting your years of service at your last position. It only takes a few minutes to make this type of update, and it emphasizes to the employer that you're interested in their position.

What have you done to improve your resume?

Matt Jackson is an HR consultant who writes about job placement, interviewing tips, and resume and cover letter writing.
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