The Real First Impression: Your Resume
Article by Tulsa Recruiting Assistant Sara Ostin | Trinity Employment Specialists
Everyone knows how to make a great first impression once they’ve scheduled a job interview. We wear our best suits, put on our best faces, and present ourselves as the outstanding employees we believe we are. However, if you’re not getting interviews, what good is that knowledge? Chances are you’re missing out on your opportunity to make a TRUE great first impression, your resume. Your resume says a lot more about you than just your job history.
Unique Cover Letter
When I say unique, I do not mean pulling out all the stops and adding on all the bells and whistles. I mean taking the time to introduce yourself, explain why you are interested in the position, and why you think you would be a good fit. Please don’t be generic. What sets you apart from other candidates? Is it an upbeat or positive attitude? Is there something that previous clients or customers have frequently complimented you on? Make sure that you mention the company’s name and the precise position you are applying for. Also, take the time to research who the hiring manager or recruiter is for the job. I would have to agree with the staffing experts at Careerbuilder.com who say that “Nobody likes to receive impersonal mail. Cover letters that begin with phrases like “To Whom it May Concern,” sound like random junk or bulk mail, rather than an important correspondence…” Taking the time to craft a well written, personalized cover letter demonstrates your will to succeed.
Take a good, hard look at your current resume. Is it neat and easy to read through? If the recruiter cannot distinguish between the sections of your resume, they may not give it a second glance. This can be easily remedied by using a template in the word processor that you are using. Many word processors have an abundance of templates to choose from, and there are several excellent websites (such as office.microsoft.com) that have oodles of attractive and easy to use templates available to download for free. I also recommend leaving your photo off of your resume (why give someone the opportunity to judge your appearance before they’ve even met you?). The appearance of your resume says a lot about how you might present information in the workplace, your level of attention to detail, and your organization skills.
It’s very easy to get deeply involved in what you’re writing on your detailed resume, but sometimes that leads us to add a little too much information. In fact, the experts at jobs.About.com list “Too Much Information” in the upper five of the Top Ten Worst Resume Mistakes. Keep your job history limited to your last ten years of employment. Unless the employer specifically asks, leave off salary history and reasons for separation (let them ask you that during the interview). Keep job descriptions brief (your resume should not exceed two pages) and compact, making sure to use keywords from the job that you’re applying for. Keeping things brief will actually give you and the recruiter more to talk about during your interview.
Checking your grammar, punctuation, and spelling is imperative to making a good first impression with your resume, however, it is very important to NOT solely rely on your word processor’s built in spell check and grammar check. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen simple mistakes that put a big blemish on an otherwise awesome resume, such as “Sales Manger”, “Fluid in English and Spanish”, “I am wanting a position”. Since they aren’t spelling mistakes, spell check will not pick up on them, and you will end up looking like someone who doesn’t proof-read their work or pay attention to detail. Take an extra five minutes to slowly read over your resume a second and third time. Send it to a friend and have them look at it. Make sure you don’t have any type of little mistake or it could cost you big time.
Remember, before anyone has a chance to meet you in person, they are judging you based on your resume. Prepare your resume to reflect how you would prepare for an interview. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for feedback on your resume from a friend or family member, or even a staffing specialist. A great cover letter along with a neat, organized, error-free resume will get you the interview you want at the job of your dreams.