Don’t get too creative. Choose a light, plain background with dark, easy-to-read font
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
While you should have a professional social media page such as LinkedIn, you should also develop a resume to post, attach and upload.
Make yours stand out by avoiding common resume mistakes.
Do not get “creative.” Instead, choose a light, plain background with dark, easy-to-read font at 12-point size. Going fancy can make it difficult for resume-reading software to scan your resume. A resume with odd fonts, low contrast colors and busy backgrounds challenging both human and software readers. (Designer’s Note: Google Fonts is your friend! We use the “Source” family of fonts in College Life, which are all very legible. fonts.google.com)
Because you want hiring agents to reach you, include your contact information: your first and last names, phone number, email, postal address, and social media. Make this easy to find, such as centered at the top.
“Be responsive when they contact you,” said Carol R. Fletcher, president at C.R. Fletcher Associates, Inc. in Syracuse.
Ghosting hiring agents is a sure-fire way of turning away potential opportunities.
“Have your voicemail cleared out,” she said. “If people can’t get you and the voicemail is full, they won’t be able to connect with you.”
The hiring agent may not want to use text or social media. Forcing them to jump through more hoops to find you is a needless hassle.
You should also record a professional-sounding voicemail. Record a concise message without unwanted background sound. You might say, “You have reached [your name] at [your number]. Please leave a message. Thank you for calling me.”
This is not the time to get cute or try to be funny.
“Don’t make it, ‘Yo, man. Drop it,’” Fletcher said.
Use a professional email address.
Fletcher advises including the work history in chronological order. Use bullet points, not verbose paragraphs.
“Start with the most recent at the top and work your way back,” Fletcher said. “Always put the date of your graduation. If you don’t put it in, it raises a question if you’ve graduated.”
The hiring agent may want someone who is available right away.
Use active voice. Employment in high school or part-time while in college might seem pointless to include but it does show that you have some real-world experience and hints that you have a work ethic.
In addition to work history, include your GPA if it is 3.0 or higher and any associations or organizations pertinent to the position, company or industry. If you have taken any special classes, completed an internship, led a group or volunteered, this is all important to mention, especially since you likely have a very short employment history.
Do not include general interests or hobbies that do not relate to the company.
If you are applying for a job in accounting, no one cares that you have a golden retriever. But it may be worthwhile to mention in the interview if you’re fostering puppies for a seeing eye dog program, as that shows you stick with a task and like to give back.
Always keep in mind why employers would care to have that information and do not waste space on information that does not matter. The “Objectives” line is passe because it’s obvious: you want a job.
“References available upon request” and character references are also outdated. Most hiring agents can easily look up past employers and will search your name online to judge your character.
Keep the document to one page. While this somewhat stems from the old days of paper resumes, this rule can also help you stick with the important information the hiring agent wants instead of rambling about things that don’t matter.
Never, ever lie or inflate facts. They will find out.
Once you finish the resume, comb it for mistakes. Check the grammar, spelling, capitalization, diction, punctuation, facts and overall layout. Do not use a term repetitively or employ trite phrases. Many of these mistakes sneak right past proofreading software. Read it aloud. Have a writing-savvy friend look it over. Seek any on-campus resources to help you. Set aside your resume for a day or two and then look at it again. You may be surprised by the number of mistakes you have missed.
Tailor the resume to the employer to demonstrate that you are not sending them out in machine-gun style. Targeted resumes show that you know each company well and want to work there.