Six Tips for a Solid Resume

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Making your resume stand out is always a challenge. In the current job market, employers have the advantage of hearing from significantly more applicants than they could possibly interview, let alone hire. So your resume and cover letter have to capture their attention in order to prevent your being overlooked.


No matter what industry you want to work in or what level job you're searching for, there are some things you can do to make sure that your resume doesn't get lost in the pile. For one, you can get a free resume review by using Nexxt's free resume critique service. If you want to keep your resume to yourself, here are six resume tips:


Know your resume's purpose. When you apply for a job, your purpose is to get an interview – not to get a job. When writing your resume, keep this goal in mind, so that you can write a resume that makes an employer want to learn more about you. It sounds simple, but too often, people make the mistake of making their goal to get hired, so their resumes end up sounding like desperate pleas for a job. Your resume is a marketing tool designed to get your foot in the door. From there, use your skills, talents, experience and your amazing personality to land the job.


Show where your career is going. These days, your resume doesn't have to be a strict re-telling of all the jobs you've ever had. Try to include only the positions that are relevant and that have been stepping stones on your career path. Ideally, your resume should show a progression and tell a story about where your career is headed. If you've recently changed career fields or have worked in a variety of industries, explain your transition or your unconventional career path in your cover letter. If an employer can't quickly see why you would be a good fit for the job, they may toss your resume without a second thought.


Tailor your resume to the employer. Before submitting your resume, you should have done some research on the company and found out what major challenges they are facing. Armed with that information, tailor your resume to show how you can help them with their problems. For example, if you have a strong background in social media marketing and the company is currently trying to establish their online identity, emphasize the skills you have that can help them achieve it.


Use Mr., Mrs., or Ms. when appropriate – This tip is a little controversial, but I think it's important to use a title in your name, especially if you have a gender neutral name. Although gender discrimination is illegal, it isn't really something you can hide, so giving the employer the information up front only serves to make things less confusing for them. For example, there are both men and women named Ashley so Mr. Ashley Smith is very different from Ms. Ashley Smith and prevents awkward moments when the employer calls with an invitation for an interview.


Don't lie – but don't list everything. Whatever you do, don't lie on a resume. It's simply too easy these days to find out anything and everything about a person, and the odds are high that you'll get caught. Even if you only lie about small things, being caught telling one will destroy your credibility and make you appear to be a dishonest person. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to list every job you've every had or go into detail about problems you've had in the past.


Don't be too fancy. When trying to stand out, some people make the mistake of being too fancy. Unless you are looking for work as an artist, graphic designer or other creative type, it's not a good idea to use special fonts, colored paper or artistic resume layouts. While it might look good to you, to an employer, it might just look weird. Stick with a classic look and use only readily available fonts like Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica and whatever you do, don't use Papyrus or Comic Sans. You should also consider sending your cover letter and resume as PDFs, so you can be sure they look exactly how you want them to look.


Making your resume stand out is important, but you want it to tell a story about who you are, where you've been and where you're going. That way, an employer will be able to see how you can benefit their company and they will want to find out more.


What do you do to make your resume stand out? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image Source: OpenClipArt


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  •  Cassie C
    Cassie C
    Interesting perspective regarding purpose of job and I am going to give it a try.  However, it would help to have a example of a typical purpose compared to the purpose you are recommending.  If I had some comparisons I could rewrite my new purpose with the appropriate tone.  I love your advice and take it all seriously.
  • Bernadette P
    Bernadette P
    Thank you for this article. These tips will help me rework my resume.
  • Michael S
    Michael S
    Great advice Melissa.Most of it would appear to be common sense but it is certainly worth reinforcing. The most worthwhile point for me was stating the purpose of a resume: it's not to land a job it is to land an interview - get your foot in the door. I'm going to edit mine with that in mind.
  • Bolanle S
    Bolanle S
    pls, I need sample of a resume
  • Hector R
    Hector R
    interested in resume advising
  • Michael R
    Michael R
    The article was great and although I believe my resume has what it should I will definitely use these tips . I can use all the help I can get ..... Thanks
  • Patty B
    Patty B
    Good article that shows the changing face of hiring practices.
  • Phillip B
    Phillip B
    Your comments are very truthful and helpful. However, I am an architect looking for a job. My first resume was slim and trim as you reccomend. I was told if I wanted a job in this town to add much more to my resume, i.e. projects I have had in the past. Employers I have worked with in the past. What I saw was important as content to a resume, and more. None of those got me an interview or a job!!!
  • Marcie A
    Marcie A
    Great tips! Thank you!!!
  • Robert J
    Robert J
    By not listing every job how do you explain gaps in your history? Is there a template somewhere that will demo that?
  • Nicolae M
    Nicolae M
    Nice article. Melissa, please come back with more details.Thank you.
  • Steve l
    Steve l
    Don't lie
  •  Kim Q
    Kim Q
    Interesting article. I work with students who are seeking employment in the medical industry as a medical assistant. Most of them are changing jobs so i try to connect what they've done to what they want to do, i.e. someone who has years of waitressing has customer service skills. Working as a medical assistant or phlebotomist, they need to have customer service skills. So i encourage them to keep these jobs on their resume otherwise there will be gaps in employment. Your feedback for such a situation would be helpful.
  • Saravanan V
    Saravanan V
    Great tips. Thank you!
  •  Susan W
    Susan W
    I have been a teacher for 20   years. I am told to leave off dates so that I won't look overqualified and  old( I am 55.)    Is is proper to leave off dates of employment? What can I do about this?
  • tom a
    tom a
    Excellent suggestions and comments.
  • Monica V
    Monica V
    Thank you very helpful
  •  Sheila M
    Sheila M
    Melissa, thank you for your tips.  I enjoy your articles and usually take away something helpful.  I've done at least 20 resumes for myself by now and always wonder how effective it is.  Can you recommend a person or service to 'grade' me, please?Thanks,Sheila M
  • Derek C
    Derek C
    Your points certainly make alot of sense.
  • Taban C
    Taban C
    Dear Mellisa,This information is very useful  to me.Thanks.
  • Khalid M
    Khalid M
    I need a specific one to one conversation for guidance
  • Theresa A
    Theresa A
    I liike the resume tips. They will be helpful when I develop my resume.
  • Luisa r
    Luisa r
    Excellent information I will love to send my resume for your review and see what if it ok.
  •  Anne R. J
    Anne R. J
    This information has been very helpful. I have wondered for a long time why I would need to list former employers when that type job had nothing to do with the job I was looking for at the time. Now I know it's not necessary. Thank you.
  • Adrienne D
    Adrienne D
    I would like to have my resume revised.  Does your organization revise resumes?
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