When your resume is a large part of the first impression a prospective employer sees, you want to be sure that the resume tells the true story. It’s enough to keep you awake nights before a crucial interview as you try to decide how much information is necessary and at what point it becomes fluff.
Experts share these tips for the job hunters:
By all means showcase your professional accomplishments, but relate them to the job you are seeking. How does what you have done relate to the skills required for this new employment opportunity? The company you are trying to impress will understand that you have researched the job and that you are in tune with the skills they want.
If your resume is dated, bring it up to date. It should be flexible to meet the specific needs of the actual position you desire. Though some information, obviously, will always be the same, there may be areas of your past work experience that will relate more directly to this position. The traditional wisdom said that a one-page resume is best. But if you have experience that seems relevant and it won’t fit on one page, don’t hesitate to include a second page. Be concise, but not stingy. Don’t short change yourself for the sake of brevity.
Your entire job history may be excessive, especially experience that is totally irrelevant to the position you are seeking. Don’t neglect gaps in your experience. Many times they are entirely justified. Even if you have gaps related to the current job market, many employers are aware that the recent recession put understandable holes into the job histories of many Americans.
Honesty counts. Don’t embellish your experience and skills. Open discussion of past problems is better than back-pedaling to explain things for which you have no good explanation. You may be asked to demonstrate certain skills. Failure to perform is the death knell for your application.
Neatness counts as well. Errors or a poor layout of your resume may catch the interviewer’s eye sooner than the content. Have a qualified friend or a professional proofreader look it over before you hand it to a prospective employer.
Non-paid internships or volunteer work in a related field are legitimate items to include in a resume, especially for young applicants whose experience is naturally limited. A mix of information may impress the reviewer with your willingness to try many things that add to your versatility.