It can be daunting to write a killer resume. It’s the first impression a hiring manager will have of you and your only chance to compel that person to invite you in for an interview. Too many people focus solely on resume structure and buzz words, allowing sloppy editing to curtail their chances of scoring an interview. You can have all of the right ingredients-experience, skills, education-and still not hear back from companies because your resume isn’t edited well. We all make mistakes, but in a tight job market when employers can afford to be choosy, they’re not going to green light a resume with two spelling errors over one with zero. The tips below can help you put the finishing touches on your resume and give you a leg up in the hiring process.
Tip #1: Read it Out Loud
Not because the hiring manager will, but because reading a document aloud-word for word-is one of the best ways to spot common grammatical errors. It forces you to really pay attention to everything on the page, helping bring to light mistakes like subject-verb agreement, which will hopefully sound “off” to your ear; words that were left out or mistakenly inserted during rounds of revisions; or any inconsistencies with dates or job descriptions.
It’s also a great way to hunt for mistakes that aren’t caught by your computer’s spell check. You would be amazed at how many human resource professionals receive resumes from experienced “mangers” (rather than managers).
Lastly, reading your resume out loud can help you get a feel for whether your resume is too long, which is much more common than one that’s too short. Many people think that longer equals better, but it simply tells readers that you don’t know what’s important or how to write concisely-not exactly a great introduction. If you get to the end and think, “That took longer than I thought it would,” you might want to think about tightening it up a bit.
Tip #2: Don’t Leave Room For Doubt
Your resume needs to be concise, but it shouldn’t be so bare that you leave questions in the mind of the hiring manager-or worse yet, a bad taste in her mouth. When it comes to abbreviations or acronyms, the rule of thumb is “when in doubt, spell it out.” Extremely common business-related terms like CEO or HR are fine, but anything that gives you even a moment’s hesitation should be spelled out-especially in a job title. One hiring professional recently complained about the number of resumes she sees with “ass. manager” as a job title. It’s pretty clear that writing out “assistant” is a classier move.
Worse than that, however, is the possibility that someone on the receiving end of your resume isn’t familiar with the acronyms or abbreviations you use. Even if you assume correctly that everyone in your industry knows what TSR means, the human resources professional who first looks at your resume may not. And if he doesn’t know that producing a high Total Shareholder Return is a good thing, he might move on to someone who takes the additional three seconds to spell it out for him.
Tip #3: Wait a Day
This tip is similar to the advice given to jilted lovers who want to mail an angry letter to their ex: sleep on it. No matter how many times you review your resume the day you finish it, it’s wise to take another look at it the following day. After you’ve read the same material over and over, you begin to lose the ability to pick out flaws, but when your eyes are fresh, you may be amazed at what you find. Similarly, always ask a trusted friend to look over your resume before sending it. No matter how firm your grasp of grammar, there’s always someone you know who has a firmer grasp. That’s the person you want to review it.