Your resume plays the biggest role in whether you are called in for a job interview. It's also usually the first impression a potential employer gets of you, so it's important that you make it a good one by including only the most relevant information, arranging this information attractively and aiming to set yourself apart from the crowd.
Keep Your Resume at One Page
Career Services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recommends that job seekers limit their resume to one page. While this isn't a hard and fast rule, particularly if you have a good deal of relevant experience, it does show consideration for the hiring managers who will be reading hundreds of resumes and don't have time for ones that are excessively wordy. If your resume is too long, many hiring managers will overlook it or disregard it. Striving for a one-page resume also encourages you to include only the most pertinent information, keeping your resume brief and to the point—just the way hiring managers like them. A good reason to bump up to two pages is if you have three or more jobs that directly relate to the position for which you're applying and/or significant volunteer experience that showcases your leadership skills, the Career Services department says.
What Does Your Resume Need?
A standard resume should consist of four parts: contact information, education, experience and honors/activities/outreach, according to Purdue University's Online Writing Lab. It's also a good idea to include references and their contact information at the very end.
Make sure your contact information includes your name, phone number and email address. Your education should include the college from which you graduated, your graduation date (or expected date of graduation) and any degrees you acquired. Include any academic honors or leadership positions held, as well as any additional education you received through your job. For instance, if you took a course in customer service or received diversity training, it may be useful to add. Only include your GPA if you earned a 3.0 or higher.
The experience portion of your resume is the most vital part. Some hiring managers look exclusively at the experience section of resumes to quickly narrow down a stack of job candidates. To make yours stand out, highlight your significant accomplishments rather than your routine tasks. For instance, if you increased sales by 15 percent at your company or received an award or were otherwise recognized for your hard work on a project, use this as a bullet point rather than your mundane, everyday work requirements. Be sure to focus on any promotions you received.
Finally, in the honors/activity/outreach portion of your resume, you can reveal more about what makes you unique. Do you head up the youth ministry at your church? Do you volunteer for a nonprofit? Do you host a reading club or breed horses? These items reveal bits of your personality to a hiring manager. The key here is to keep it brief; your resume is not the place to reveal all of your life's passions.