Whether you're fresh out of college or are mid-career and looking for a change, your resume will play an important role in helping you land your dream job. That's why it's crucial to get that document just right, and with that in mind, here are a few ground rules all job seekers ought to know.
1. Make it brief
Your resume should serve as a snapshot of your experience and talent -- not a novel. Though you don't want to skimp on details, you should also aim to keep that document as brief as possible. In fact, if you've only had a couple of jobs, there's no reason your credentials can't be summarized in a single page. If you're a seasoned professional, on the other hand, and need to exceed the one-page mark, it's better to do so than omit key information about your work history, but don't go overboard, either -- especially if you're talking about a position you haven't held in years.
2. Kill the objective statement
Nothing screams "amateur" like a forced objective statement rehashing the obvious. Starting off your resume with something along the lines of "seeking a career where I can flourish and grow" isn't going to win you any points with a prospective employer. If anything, all that objective statement will do is take up valuable real estate on that key piece of paper. You're better off opening up with a strong, snappy summary of who you are and why you're such a valuable asset.
3. Be consistent
A clean, consistent resume sends the message that you're the type who pays attention to detail. That's why it's important to keep your resume consistent from a stylistic standpoint. If you start off by bolding your first few job titles, continue to do so throughout that document. Similarly, make sure to use the same font size and style all over that page.
4. Never make spelling or grammatical mistakes
You don't need to be a linguistics expert to land a job, but if you submit a resume laden with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, you're apt to come off as unpolished or unprofessional. While running your resume through a spelling and grammar check program can help you identify glaring errors, some mistakes may not get picked up. That's why it's essential to not only proofread your own resume, but, ideally, enlist the help of a friend or colleague to review it on your behalf. It's easier for someone else to spot your errors than it is to identify your own mistakes, and having an outside pair of eyes might make the difference between submitting a clean resume versus one that's sloppy.
5. Don't get too personal
The point of a resume is to highlight your career-related accomplishments and experience, and while it's OK for tidbits of your personality to shine through, you should generally aim to keep its contents work-centric. While you can list a hobby or interest that pertains to your job or makes you a more appealing candidate, keep those personal touches to a minimum, and instead focus on your sales numbers, data mining skills, or editorial prowess. For the most part, hiring managers don't care about your sports team affiliations when you're just at the resume stage, so save those personal notes for the interview process.
A strong resume could lead to a world of job opportunities. Get that document right, and you're more likely to get your foot in the door.