A resume is a document that summarizes your experience, skills, and education with the purpose of securing new employment. It is relatively short and to the point, emphasizing your accomplishments and job-specific talents. It absolutely must be well-written, organized, and easy-to-read. The number one goal of the resume is to land an interview.

Gaining an Edge on the Competition

Today’s job market is no picnic. Moderately sized companies often receive hundreds of resumes per job posting. Google receives more than 20,000 resumes per week. With such a large number of submissions, it is extremely important to quickly and efficiently highlight your strengths and abilities. The hiring manager needs to be able to easily scan through the major points of your resume, absorbing the important details.

In addition, organization is a critical factor. If your resume is poorly organized and difficult to read or understand, it will immediately be placed in the “no” pile. You may be the absolute best candidate for the position, but if you cannot efficiently show this, you may as well place it in the discard pile yourself.

Proper Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation are Vital

It doesn’t matter how great your resume is, one misspelled word can be the breaking point. Consider the idea that a hiring manager has two resumes to review. The candidates are both equally qualified, so they must find that single tipping point. A misspelled word, incorrectly punctuated sentence, or an improper use of grammar could very well become that point.

What should a resume include?

There is no magic resume that works for everyone. In fact, your resume should be as unique and individual as you. Generally, you should include a summary, professional experience, related volunteer experience, education, licenses or certifications, and depending on the career field, a skill set. The content of the resume should also compliment the job posting. For example, if you are applying for a management position, your resume should focus on your management and supervisory skills.

The information you exclude from a resume can be as important as the content that you include. Never include personal information in your resume. These items include marital status, children or pregnancies, date of birth, age, religion, race or ethnic background, health conditions, height, or weight. Unless specifically requested by the potential employer, do not include your salary history. Also, resumes should never include references or past supervisors.

Avoid the Franken-Resume

You start out with a good, clean resume. Over time you add a little here and a little there, until one day you realize that the resume you have created is a monster (aka “Franken-Resume”). Respect the importance of the resume and be sure to give it as much attention when you update it, as you did when you created it.