Applying for a job can be a daunting task, particularly if it’s been a while since you’ve dusted off your resume! Have no fear, by keeping your audience in mind and following a few simple rules, it’s very doable.
Contact Information: When composing your resume, it's important to include all your contact information at the top. It lets employers easily see how they can reach you. Be sure to include:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Email address
- Street/mailing address
Name: If you go by a name other than your given name, it’s okay to use it on your resume. Just be consistent across all documents and platforms. Keep in mind, though, that most employers will request your legal name at some point in the process.
Phone number: The phone number you give on the resume should have a voicemail. That way, potential employers can leave a message if you’re not available. Make sure your voicemail is professional and include your name so the employer knows they have called the correct person. Check your voicemail regularly to ensure it’s not full and is properly receiving messages!
Email address: Use a personal email address instead of a work email address. Just be sure it doesn’t include words or content that could be perceived as offensive or unprofessional. Use an email account that’s easily accessible and check it frequently so potential employers hear from you in a timely way.
Street/mailing address: Use a street/mailing address that’s current, so mail is sure to reach you, if needed. If you’re concerned about privacy, you could simply list the city and state (e.g. San Francisco, California).
Creative Resumes: Resumes with infographics, videos, or presentations – or ones with icons or graphics – can set you apart from the crowd. But use them thoughtfully. When applying through an applicant tracking system (the method used by most employers), stick to standard formatting with no bells and whistles. Non-standard fonts, excessive formatting, and other decorative elements usually won’t make it through the system, and can result in an unreadable resume. You want the HR person on the other end to be able to read it!
Take time to learn the culture of the organization you’re considering. That will help you choose the best resume style. For a more traditional company, keep the resume simple and concise, using design elements and color sparingly and tastefully. If you’re approaching a company like an advertising or design firm, letting your creativity shine can be a selling point.
Content Considerations: There’s no exactly right answer about what your resume should contain, so long as you include information relevant to your skills and the job you’re seeking. Here are some things to consider in creating content:
- Competencies – What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you have that are relevant to the job?
- Capabilities – What is your aptitude (know how) for learning new things such as leadership, technology, and project management?
- Mindset – How can you tailor your language to reflect the attitudes, beliefs, and expectations of the role or company you’re considering? (A cover letter or stated objective is a great place to address this.)
Closing Thoughts: You want your resume to be unique to you, but it’s still important to abide by a few basic rules to achieve a professional piece. And you’ll probably find that your resume takes on a different structure depending on the company or role you’re seeking. Make sure it accurately identifies your strengths and look for ways to set yourself apart from other candidates. To top it off, a thoughtful cover letter or stated objective is always a great way to let your personal voice shine through.
Happy resume writing!
And I know you're saying, 'Oh Bob, you've done it this time.' And you may be right. It's life. It's interesting. It's fun. Use what happens naturally, don't fight it. Trees get lonely too, so we'll give him a little friend.