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Six Tips for a Solid Resume

Posted By: Staff Editor In: Job Seeker - Resume

Making your resume stand out is always a challenge. In the current job market, employers have the advantage of hearing from significantly more applicants than they could possibly interview, let alone hire. So your resume and cover letter have to capture their attention in order to prevent your being overlooked.


No matter what industry you want to work in or what level job you're searching for, there are some things you can do to make sure that your resume doesn't get lost in the pile. For one, you can get a free resume review by using Nexxt's free resume critique service. If you want to keep your resume to yourself, here are six resume tips:


Know your resume's purpose. When you apply for a job, your purpose is to get an interview – not to get a job. When writing your resume, keep this goal in mind, so that you can write a resume that makes an employer want to learn more about you. It sounds simple, but too often, people make the mistake of making their goal to get hired, so their resumes end up sounding like desperate pleas for a job. Your resume is a marketing tool designed to get your foot in the door. From there, use your skills, talents, experience and your amazing personality to land the job.


Show where your career is going. These days, your resume doesn't have to be a strict re-telling of all the jobs you've ever had. Try to include only the positions that are relevant and that have been stepping stones on your career path. Ideally, your resume should show a progression and tell a story about where your career is headed. If you've recently changed career fields or have worked in a variety of industries, explain your transition or your unconventional career path in your cover letter. If an employer can't quickly see why you would be a good fit for the job, they may toss your resume without a second thought.


Tailor your resume to the employer. Before submitting your resume, you should have done some research on the company and found out what major challenges they are facing. Armed with that information, tailor your resume to show how you can help them with their problems. For example, if you have a strong background in social media marketing and the company is currently trying to establish their online identity, emphasize the skills you have that can help them achieve it.


Use Mr., Mrs., or Ms. when appropriate – This tip is a little controversial, but I think it's important to use a title in your name, especially if you have a gender neutral name. Although gender discrimination is illegal, it isn't really something you can hide, so giving the employer the information up front only serves to make things less confusing for them. For example, there are both men and women named Ashley so Mr. Ashley Smith is very different from Ms. Ashley Smith and prevents awkward moments when the employer calls with an invitation for an interview.


Don't lie – but don't list everything. Whatever you do, don't lie on a resume. It's simply too easy these days to find out anything and everything about a person, and the odds are high that you'll get caught. Even if you only lie about small things, being caught telling one will destroy your credibility and make you appear to be a dishonest person. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to list every job you've every had or go into detail about problems you've had in the past.


Don't be too fancy. When trying to stand out, some people make the mistake of being too fancy. Unless you are looking for work as an artist, graphic designer or other creative type, it's not a good idea to use special fonts, colored paper or artistic resume layouts. While it might look good to you, to an employer, it might just look weird. Stick with a classic look and use only readily available fonts like Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica and whatever you do, don't use Papyrus or Comic Sans. You should also consider sending your cover letter and resume as PDFs, so you can be sure they look exactly how you want them to look.


Making your resume stand out is important, but you want it to tell a story about who you are, where you've been and where you're going. That way, an employer will be able to see how you can benefit their company and they will want to find out more.


What do you do to make your resume stand out? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image Source: OpenClipArt

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Posted by: Melissa Kennedy
Thanks so much, Ilona and Tameka. Good luck with your job search!
Posted by: Ilona J
Thank you for your help.
Posted by: Tameka B
The tips are helpful for those searching for employment but even more insightful for people like myself seeking to change careers.
Posted by: Lori L
Very good advice!
Posted by: Melissa Kennedy
Thanks for all of the great comments.@Antonia - that you're willing or interested in being train in another job is something you should address in your cover letter, rather than your resume.@Cassie - it seems like you're talking about the objective statement. You don't need to have one and if you aren't sure what to say, just omit it. Almost everyone's objective is to find a great job. Unless you have something really great to say there, just don't do it.
Posted by: Richard T
Very helpful
Posted by: Gloria M
Very good tips
Posted by: Sharon R
I find that (even if you don't need it now) keeping the resume up about every 6 months ensures that I haven't forgotten key points. Don't have to think, think, think about what I did four years ago, or more
Posted by: Uboh K
its a nice one not lie, but most times people lie as that's the only thing some companies want to see. we base on certificate not on experience. most people have the experience but dont have the certificate. how can they fit that in. or they studied from a different field but ended up doing some thing in the opposite field. how can they cope with what the are doing and what they studied? please advice
Posted by: GRACE U
Was not aware that fonts were an issue.  This was a new tip for me.
Posted by: Diana N
good tips, useful information.
Posted by: Antonia P
How do you word a resume if you have only been in one area but you are willing to be retrained? I have been out of work for 4 yrs now and have reworded my resume several times and nothing seems to work. Please send me an example. Thx
Posted by: Linda C
Great tips , I especially liked the tip not to lie but you don't have to include everything!
Posted by: Jacqueline M
I give the employer first of all a brief summary about my personality.
Posted by: Kevin E
This was very helpful. It is also good for someone who hasn't done a resume in a while.Thanks
Posted by: Patricia Crumbie M
These are very important tips that I will use to redo my resume.Thank you very much for this information.
Posted by: Kamala M
Hello Melissa,Thank you for the resume tips. I like the 'show them where you're going' point.
Posted by: Becky K
Very helpful and will put these tips to use
Posted by: Leslie H
helpful information
Posted by: michelle m
great tips!!! awesome ideas!!
Posted by: Kathleen M
Great tips. I appreciate the information. Best Regards, Kathleen
Posted by: Tom W
Thank you,TW
Posted by: Mr John W
Thank You for encouragement!I have been looking for work too long!Peace be with you!
Posted by: Mandira Poudyal G
Great tips Melissa. It would be very helpful if you could provide a sample resume.
Posted by: Cassie C
Interesting perspective regarding purpose of job and I am going to give it a try.  However, it would help to have a example of a typical purpose compared to the purpose you are recommending.  If I had some comparisons I could rewrite my new purpose with the appropriate tone.  I love your advice and take it all seriously.
Posted by: Bernadette P
Thank you for this article. These tips will help me rework my resume.
Posted by: Michael S
Great advice Melissa.Most of it would appear to be common sense but it is certainly worth reinforcing. The most worthwhile point for me was stating the purpose of a resume: it's not to land a job it is to land an interview - get your foot in the door. I'm going to edit mine with that in mind.
Posted by: Bolanle S
pls, I need sample of a resume
Posted by: Hector R
interested in resume advising
Posted by: Michael R
The article was great and although I believe my resume has what it should I will definitely use these tips . I can use all the help I can get ..... Thanks
Posted by: Patty B
Good article that shows the changing face of hiring practices.
Posted by: Phillip B
Your comments are very truthful and helpful. However, I am an architect looking for a job. My first resume was slim and trim as you reccomend. I was told if I wanted a job in this town to add much more to my resume, i.e. projects I have had in the past. Employers I have worked with in the past. What I saw was important as content to a resume, and more. None of those got me an interview or a job!!!
Posted by: Marcie A
Great tips! Thank you!!!
Posted by: Robert J
By not listing every job how do you explain gaps in your history? Is there a template somewhere that will demo that?
Posted by: Nicolae M
Nice article. Melissa, please come back with more details.Thank you.
Posted by: Steve l
Don't lie
Posted by: Kim Q
Interesting article. I work with students who are seeking employment in the medical industry as a medical assistant. Most of them are changing jobs so i try to connect what they've done to what they want to do, i.e. someone who has years of waitressing has customer service skills. Working as a medical assistant or phlebotomist, they need to have customer service skills. So i encourage them to keep these jobs on their resume otherwise there will be gaps in employment. Your feedback for such a situation would be helpful.
Posted by: Saravanan V
Great tips. Thank you!
Posted by: Susan W
I have been a teacher for 20   years. I am told to leave off dates so that I won't look overqualified and  old( I am 55.)    Is is proper to leave off dates of employment? What can I do about this?
Posted by: tom a
Excellent suggestions and comments.
Posted by: Monica V
Thank you very helpful
Posted by: Sheila M
Melissa, thank you for your tips.  I enjoy your articles and usually take away something helpful.  I've done at least 20 resumes for myself by now and always wonder how effective it is.  Can you recommend a person or service to 'grade' me, please?Thanks,Sheila M
Posted by: Derek C
Your points certainly make alot of sense.
Posted by: Taban C
Dear Mellisa,This information is very useful  to me.Thanks.
Posted by: Khalid M
I need a specific one to one conversation for guidance
Posted by: Theresa A
I liike the resume tips. They will be helpful when I develop my resume.
Posted by: Luisa r
Excellent information I will love to send my resume for your review and see what if it ok.
Posted by: Anne R. J
This information has been very helpful. I have wondered for a long time why I would need to list former employers when that type job had nothing to do with the job I was looking for at the time. Now I know it's not necessary. Thank you.
Posted by: Adrienne D
I would like to have my resume revised.  Does your organization revise resumes?
Posted by: James W
heard this before.
Posted by: La' Shanda R
Melissa: how can I forward you my résumé to critique. I need assistance. I'm not sure if I am putting too much of my qualifications or missing key words.
Posted by: Paul B
Wouldn't it be odd if included in the comments was one that read: Your picture makes you look young.  Your writing makes it obvious you have not yet seen the irony in what you are writing.  Hope one day you will wake up and join the revolution - the system is broken. [Like something from a sci-fi flick - Have some fun in life]
Posted by: Lay s
This information sounds very hepful, I'm going pass on this site to my friends.
Posted by: Diane E
WOW...great information! I guess I need to re-do my resume.... makes sense on why my interviews have been so random..thanks!
Posted by: Henry I
I found this information to be quite useful and upfront.
Posted by: Cecilia E
Hello Melissa,You are right, I would like you to help fix my resume in a professional way. Let me know what it requires.Thanksyours sincerelyCecilia
Posted by: Peggy a
Thank you very much. Your information was very helpful.
Posted by: Deborah a
Great insight and definitely points to consider.  Thanks :)
Posted by: Susana M
Thank you for this information; I do think it is very valuable information.I will reorient myself; and change my mindset; therefore I will write to get an interview (and not a job).
Posted by: John O
Very insightful and helpful with what to include and not to include. Well written article. Many thanks.
Posted by: Carmen C
Thanks for the helpful hints.
Posted by: Cansaba S
great advice!
Posted by: David G
Posted by: John M
Succinct and well written...helpful.
Posted by: Widny l
Oh i apreciate it. The way she's explaining how to make a resume is unbeleivable.It is a resume base. now i am not afraid any more to make mine.Let me go forward.........
Posted by: Bongani G
Article is wonderful! and is on KISS based design approach with Kiss unpacked to mean"Keep It short and simple"Thank you
Posted by: Marion B
Very informative and straightforward.  The kind of advice we need for us jobseekers.
Posted by: Natalja L
For young people having no relevant work experience, I would suggest to include as much experience as possible in their resumes, even if irrelevant to the industry they apply for. Otherwise the employer can dismiss them as lazy or molly-coddle.
Posted by: Becken K
Thank you for your wonderful help.
Posted by: Angie G
Dear Melissa:I really need help w my resume. I'm frustrated because I'm not even able to get an interview.
Posted by: Raul O
These are indeed helpful tips.  Also appreciate the comments by Tessa A.
Posted by: Quante B
Great article here. A lot of intricacies that are fairly obvious but glossed over en masse. Again, thanks, it was full of useful reminders and pointers.
Posted by: Madonna D
Thank you I will redo my resume.
Posted by: Jacob B
I found the tips in this article to be very useful and the right things to do were confirmed when I reflect on my resume and cover letter.Thanks for the help!-Jacob
Posted by: Denise R
Definitely appreciate the advice about sending documents as .pdf for the way you want your cover letter or resume to look. THANKS!
Posted by: Robert M
I really enjoyed the article and advice on gettting my resume seen.  Super tips.  Thanks!
Posted by: Debra W
Helpful. Especially about sending resume as PDF file when emailing. Too often the fantastic formatting job you did goes haywire in the emailing process and you can end up representing yourself as just sloppy.  Not the first impression you want to make! Thank you!
Posted by: Harrison O
i want to say i big thank you to you for this eye opening. i think i have to re-design my resume.
Posted by: Chad D. C
I agree with everything that has been stated, however the comment about being too creative unless you plan to be a graphic designer I am not so sure about. I appreciate the opinion, but since I have been laid off the people that have contacted me contacted me solely because my resume design stopped them in their tracks to where they were interested in reading further. The only issue with this is with all current job search website's when you try to up-load a fancy "fancy resume" they are not capable of uploading to the point to where it mirrors the resume that you created, so you are pretty much forced to go with the "cookie-cutter" mold anyway. Now days it seems that the 21st century companies seem to expect a small presentation captured via webcam attached with the resume, something like giving them a first impression of you without the first impression interview. I am being told now that it could or might help to even present a picture of yourself in business attire just a head-shot, and put it on your resume. I understand from a psychological perspective because they suggest appearance is nearly half of the percentage of all the aspects it takes to get an employer to hire you. Though this is an unwritten law, studies have shown that whether it is fair or not it is more times than not true. I am still up in the air on what I want to do with that. Just offering what I think. I am not a professional in resume's by any means.
Posted by: Renee M
Thank you, this information was extremely helpful.  I will be redoing my resume then, I'll take up on that free critiquing.  Thank you
Posted by: Mohammad S
I find the info provided on how to focus in resume very helpful. many thanks.
Posted by: Tessa A
I do not agree with using Mr. or Ms in your own nmae on a resume. It is okay to use to address the employer in the cover letter. If using Times Roman as a font it must be at least 12 for readability. The most preferred font is really Courier new since it is spaced more between letters it is not smudged when faxing or when scanning into a computer database from an email. It is important to use keywords in today's resume so when tailoring a resume you use the keywords in the advertisement and incorporated them into your resume skills section and accomplishments. The objective is strictly the title of the position you are applying for and must be on the resume so the computer can find the position and see if you are matching. Tessa  
Posted by: Randy M
i want to shift my career in another field
Posted by: Vilma H
It is a helpful reminder.  Thanks
Posted by: Jeff B
It was helpful
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