I often get asked to review resumes by friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, friends of friends of ...... I am happy to do it, but have noticed a trend when reviewing resumes. There are a few comments that I habitually make, so I thought I would share them here:
1. USE VERBS! The verb is a VERY powerful thing in resume writing. There are loads and loads of verbs in the English language - use them! Differentiate! Describe! Really get the reader to understand what it is that you did in your previous positions, volunteer work etc. NOTE: Best practice (that I have learned) dictates that every verb in your resume is also in present tense.
2. Tell the reader what made YOU unique in your previous positions. How did you stand out? What were your major accomplishments? Then - QUANTIFY, QUANTIFY, QUANTIFY! Use quantitative and qualitative backing wherever possible.
3. Take the time to learn about the organization and determine if it is a real fit for you. If they are a fit, make the resume unique for the organization. In my experience less than 5 % of candidates actually take the time to infuse their resume with:
(a) words from the posting / job description
(b) something about the organization they are applying to
(c) creating a personal connection / why you want to work at that organization
Do these three things and your resume will STAND OUT. It will look like you CARE about the organization and truly want the position you are applying for - a genuine interest goes a long way.
4. SGPM: Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation Matter. PERIOD.
6. Show you have the skills they are looking for in the creation of your document. If they are looking for a candidate who has, "Exceptional Microsoft Word skills" - show them you have these skills. If they want someone with "Excellent Written Communication Skills" - demonstrate these in your resume. Look at the Qualifications and Skills profile and enhance your resume so you are not only telling the reader that you have those skills, but you are SHOWING the reader that you do!
7. The most important part: EXPLAIN. I regularly see resumes that say: "Excellent team player." Tell the reader where you have demonstrated those skills and quantify (where possible) using concrete examples that demonstrate your skills.
8. Show the reader who you are, because at the end of the day, if you both feel a sense of connection and fit - that is when you are going to end up with meaningful, lasting employment. Sit back and read that completed document and ask yourself, "Does this give the hiring manager an idea of who the 'professional me' is?". If not, infuse more of you into it.