There is a popular saying that first impressions count, and I believe it’s absolutely true. Of course, you always have a chance to change someones opinion of you as you interact, but you can’t not get that first impression back, and you want to make a good first impression.
This is critical when it comes to job hunting. When you are up against competition you want to make a good first impression and stand out from the crowd.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… Smart outfit, neat hair, shiny shoes, nice smell… Yes these all lead to a great first impression. It shows you’ve made the effort. But… is this really your first impression? No, it’s not. It may be the first time an employer gets to see and speak to you directly, but your first impression would have been when you initially applied for the job. It would be when you compiled your resume or Curriculum Vitae and drafted your covering letter. This is when your first impression really has to count. You will be judged in the formatting, the spelling, the font and the way you have submitted your application.
AND, you will only have to opportunity to have that first impression if you are able to stand out from the crowd… in this case, a sea of other resumes.
So to get you to the point of make a good impression in person, you first need to make a good impression on paper.
These are the top 5 critical components to making a good impression with your resume and standing out from the crowd:
1. Check the spelling
This is absolutely the number one thing you must do with all your correspondence to potential employers. Check and double check your spelling. Check your pronunciation is correct and you are using the right spelling for particular words. e.g. Their/There/They’re or Past/Passed. It really makes a difference.
Use spell checker on your computer and get other people to look your documents over for you.
2. Get the formatting right
How you layout out your resume will really make a difference to how it is read and the first impression you give when applying for jobs.
Think about the employer and ask yourself how can you convey your best information in a way that is easy for the employer to read and understand. I always find dot point to be the best and easiest way to go.
Writing a resume in paragraphs makes it more time consuming for your future employer to read and makes it more likely that they will skim read and potentially miss important information that you want to get across.
Remember, you are potentially applying for jobs along side tens/hundreds/thousands of other hopefuls. You want to stand out. Laying out your information in dot point that is clear and concise and, well… to the point will make it far easier for you to write out your resume and your future employer will thank you for it.
This is very important to do particularly when writing out your cover letter. Read through the job advert and reply to particular points using the same words. This shows the potential employer that you have read the advert clearly and it will set you apart from other applicants.
4. Consider your content
When it comes to your resume content you always want to make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Never ever lie about your skills and experience. This is not the type of impression you want to make and you run a very high risk of being found out anyway.
Put your most relevant information first and when outlining previous experience and qualifications always put the most recent one first and work backward.
Sometimes, if you are just starting out, it can be hard to find applicable content to put in your resume. Try to think about any volunteer work you have done or tasks you have completed for your family to show you have skills in that area. Did you do any babysitting? or help organise a garage sale? Experience doesn’t have to come just from paid work. Life experience can also make a difference.
Remember, to consider the words you use to explain the skills and experience you have. Try to word it so it sounds professional.
5. Consider the length
If you have loads of skills and experience it can mean that your resume becomes quite long, and this means there is less likely that a potential employer will look at it.
If they see that your resume is 8 pages, double sided, chance are that the person reviewing the resumes is going to skim read it or worse, skip it all together. You resume should really be no more than 4 pages long max. Two pages is ideal. But you ultimately need to weigh up the importance of the information against the length of the document.
If you have highly relevant skills and experience to the job your applying for then it may be worthwhile making your resume a little longer to fit it in. But the worse you can do it waffle on and include information that is not relevant.
Above everything, your resume must be easy to read so make sure the font is easy to read, the text is not too small and the information is clearly laid out under each section.
Finally as a bonus tip, consider adding a small amount of colour to your resume to give it an edge. Chances are the application reviewer may print your resume out in black and white so make sure it’s easy to read if that is the case, but if printed out in colour, yours will stand out among a stack of black and white documents.
Don’t forget to check out our Resume Template pack that makes it super easy for you create a resume from scratch in just minutes.