For most people, the assumption is that one resume fits all, which is exactly why you should be customizing your resume to the job you’re applying for. Your resume should stand out from the rest, and when you have tailored it to the position you’re applying for, your chances of being called in for an interview are far better.
It’s tempting to use a resume template, especially since there are hundreds available, but this won’t really help you. Do you really want your resume to look just like thousands of others? Probably not. Change it up a bit and design your own. Just don’t take it too far— keep it simple and easy to read.
Job descriptions will use words or phrases to describe the ideal candidate, including industry jargon, so reproduce this by using the same wording in your profile and throughout your resume. Remember, it’s not always the hiring manager that reviews a resume first. Instead, many times it is an internal HR team comprised of people who are not experts in your field. A quick scan for keywords may be all the attention your resume will get, so if you don’t have the right keywords included, you could be quickly passed up.
Meanwhile, always proofread your own work. Just one error can drastically change the way people see your resume, and it can affect your future job prospects with the company. Putting your resume down for a few hours or for a day, then re-reading it, can give you a completely fresh perspective.
By a similar token, don’t forget to let someone else read over your cover letter and your resume. While a spellcheck function is a handy tool, it doesn’t mean it’s going to catch all mistakes, so get a friend to check it out for you and let you know if there are any errors that need to be fixed, as well as anything you may have forgotten to include.
If you want to incorporate multimedia and portfolio materials into your resume, a site like VisualCV can be invaluable. The site and others like it allow you to add audio and video, as well as graphs and even samples of your work. This can help you create a multidimensional resume that stands out from the rest.
While Times New Roman or Arial font is the standard option that most people use out of habit, some hiring managers and recruiters dislike them and feel they are overused. Georgia is an excellent choice; it’s easy on the eyes for computer reading. Layout is also important. Keep the paragraphs or sections fairly short. Using short paragraphs, bullet points, and subheadings will make things far simpler to read.
Most importantly, the content of your resume is what will gain the attention of a hiring manager. The details of a custom resume are what can make you stand out against the competition.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.