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Top 7 Tips for Effective Resumes

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Ever hear the saying "you never get a second chance to make a first impression?" Your resume gives a potential employer a powerful message about what kind of employee you would be. With only a few seconds to capture the attention of the reader and showcase your extensive skills, you need to make the most of your resume. Read on for resume tips and tricks.

1. Resume Tip 1: Spell Check and "Reality Check"

Before you submit your resume, make sure you give it a spell check using your word processing software. After you spell check it, have someone else give it a quick "reality check" to make sure that the spell checker didn't miss anything and to make sure that you didn't make a mistake that your computer can't catch. It is important that you get a second set of eyes to look over the document that could be responsible for your next job.

2. Resume Tip 2: Not Too Long, But Not Too Short

How long should your resume be? This is always a tough call. Some experts believe a one page resume is the perfect length. I would disagree, unless you really have few skills and experiences to share. Go into enough detail to give an accurate view of your skills, but not so long that the reader falls asleep. You do not need to list every project you have ever worked on. Summarize, but be inclusive.

3. Resume Tip 3: Formatting Counts

Have 2 versions of your resume available. One to be viewed online, and one to be handed out at in-person interviews and job fairs. Fancy formatting with pretty fonts, lines, boxes and bullet points just does not make it through on most computers. Anything you send or submit online should have very basic formatting (spacing and paragraph breaks, for example).

4. Resume Tip 4: Keywords are Key

When an employer searches a database, they use keywords. In general, they expect the results to be representative of what they are searching for. This should mean a couple of things to the resume writer:
  • Include relevant keywords in your resume, because this is how you will be found.
  • Don't stuff your resume with keywords that are not relevant of your experience. A list of keywords that do not represent your expertise should be avoided.

Check out How to Make a Resume for more on keywords.

5. Resume Tip 5: Include the Basics

A technical resume should include the following information sections.
  • An objective: 1-2 sentences describing what you want, customize this for the job you are applying for.
  • Education: Any degrees you have completed or are working on, as well as relevant classes or certifications. Only include your GPA if it is very high.
  • Experience: List your past employers and/or major projects you have worked on. Start with the most recent.
  • Technology Summary: List only the technologies you know well.

6. Resume Tip 6: Have Multiple Versions

If you are in more than one role (or have skills that may fit more than one role) you should have multiple versions of your resume available that highlight those skills. For example, if you have years of experience as a software engineer, and also have project management expertise, have two resumes: one highlighting your software engineer experience and another highlighting your project management experience.

7. Resume Tip 7: Make Your Resume Viewable

Recruiters and hiring managers like to search and "source" for candidates. If your resume (or bio) is not someplace where an employer can find it, then they don't know you exist. In addition to the regular job boards, consider posting your resume on personal web pages, as well as networking tools such as:
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • any relevant alumni web sites or industry association sites.
Specific technology job boards, such as:
should also contain your profile.

Our Top Job Boards is a great resource for your job search.

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