Posted by: garispang | April 5, 2009

Resume Tips

Resume Tips
Resume Tips

I want to share some resume writing tips. These are all based on actual things I have personally seen in resumes that I’ve reviewed for software developer positions. However, almost all of these tips are generally applicable to anyone writing a resume.

  • Proofread for spelling and grammar, especially if English is not your primary language. When I see spelling and grammar mistakes I want to stop reading and throw the resume away. If you have these mistakes, you are digging yourself a hole and the rest of your resume has to be good enough for me to overlook these errors. If you are not adept at spelling and grammar, then find someone else to proofread your resume.
  • Be specific and avoid using vague words such as “like” and “something.” It is one thing to say you have a skill but it’s completely different to describe how you have used a skill.
  • Use a cover letter. Most people don’t use a cover letter so by doing so you are already setting yourself apart from everyone else. The only exception to this is if you are responding to a job advertisement that specifically requested that you not include a cover letter.
  • Don’t use a generic cover letter. Generic cover letters are obvious and a waste of time. The point of a cover letter is to sell yourself and get me excited about reading your resume. The cover letter should call out specific details in your resume that are particularly relevant to the job for which you are applying.
  • Be clear and concise. In general, try to format your resume so that it can easily be scanned (by a human). As a practical matter I’m not going to actually read every word on a resume so make it easy for me to glean the highlights.
  • Modify your resume to be specific for the job for which you are applying. This is an extension of my point about being “clear and concise.” If you take a few minutes to specifically tailor your resume to the job for which you are applying, it can make you appear more qualified than a similar candidate with a “generic” resume. The easiest way to tailor a resume is to change the “objective” section to be consistent with the position for which you are applying.
  • Do not give any reasons for you to be excluded. What I mean by this is that, in general, almost every resume that I read for a given job is at least somewhat qualified for the job. (Otherwise, why would you submit the resume in the first place?) Because of this, when I’m scanning through a stack of resumes I’m basically looking for reasons to discard your resume in the first pass. Following my resume tips will decrease your chance of being discarded in the first pass, assuming you are otherwise reasonably qualified for the position.
  • In general, remember that you want to stand out from all the other resumes. A typical job advertisement will result in dozens (if not many more) resumes being submitted. In addition to following my tips, try to find additional ways to make your resume unique and appealing based on the job for which you are applying.
  • Keep the formatting of your resume reasonably simple. Do not overuse font styles (italic, bold, etc.). Use white space, organization and font styles to make your resume easy to quickly scan. When styling portions of your resume for emphasis, use only one form of emphasis at a time (e.g., all capitals, underline, italic, bold, etc.).
  • Give examples, don’t just list technologies. Describe the projects on which you have worked, how you used the relevant technologies, what your role was and what you learned.
  • If you are not local (by this I mean not living in the same metropolitan area as the employer), be up-front about this and be clear about your desire to relocate and whether or not you are seeking relocation assistance.
  • Do not list “expert” level skills without providing any relevant work experience. I think this is self-explanatory.
  • Do not state obvious things such as “computer literate” if you are submitting an electronic resume for a software development position.

I hope that these tips will enable you to be successful in your job hunt!

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