Hannah Neff has read a lot of resumes.
As the Career Resource Advisor at Trent’s Careerspace, Hannah facilitates resume workshops to help students work through their resumes – finding unique ways to help their talents, skills, and knowledge shine through.
“Your resume is often the first impression you make on a potential employer. It’s a concise document that highlights your skills and accomplishments to secure an interview, so it's essential to make it count,” explains Hannah. “There’s lots of competition for opportunities, so even a minor mistake on your resume can turn off a potential employer and prevent you from advancing to the next stage of the hiring process.”
According to Hannah, even small changes can make a huge difference. Through her role in Careerspace, she helps current students and Trent graduates look over their resumes and pull out the key information that employers are looking for. Through her experience, she shares that there are ten simple ways that everyone can improve their resume and the chances of landing that next big interview.
- Do not use a generic resume - Did you know that on average, a hiring manager spends only around seven seconds looking at each resume before narrowing down their list of candidates? Tailoring your resume to the specific job you are applying for is crucial in highlighting your relevant skills and experiences and essential to making every second count! Be sure to use keywords from the posted job description to make it easier for employers to connect your skills to the job.
- Proof, edit and proof again - Spelling and grammatical mistakes can leave a bad impression. Before sending your resume, ensure that it is error-free by using spelling and grammar reviewing tools, reading it aloud, and asking a friend to review it.
- Ditch the objective - Objective statements are outdated and take up valuable real estate at the top of your resume. Instead, craft a well-written summary statement and highlights of qualifications targeted to the job posting.
- Let your education shine – Don't have as much relevant work experience? Be sure to showcase a few relevant academic courses in your education section and field-specific knowledge in a skills section.
- Underscore your achievements and impact - When you’re describing your experience, highlight your accomplishments over job duties. Wherever possible, include results and measurable impact.
- Consistency is key - Inconsistent formatting can make your resume look unprofessional. Ensure that your resume has consistent font, spacing, and bullet points. Also, avoid fancy templates, charts, tables or graphics. Simplicity is best! Once you’ve crafted your perfect format, stay consistent with your cover letter and keep the same contact info header, font, and margins.
- Highlight transferable skills – No matter your experience, be sure to describe and highlight relevant transferable skills such as communication, time management, empathy, problem-solving, and analytical skills – don't forget to provide examples and evidence to support them.
- Make it easy for employers to contact you - Ensure that your preferred name, phone number, professional email address, and LinkedIn profile are easy to find. You can also include your pronouns, as well as your city, province and postal code.
- Always Include a cover letter – A cover letter is your personal stamp on your application. A good letter highlights important accomplishments and skills, demonstrates your research and gives you the opportunity to highlight your genuine interest in the role and organization. Once you’ve written your cover letter, ask yourself if the same letter could be used for a different organization or position. If the answer is yes, you should make it more targeted.
- References come later - Keep a list of current references in a separate document to provide to an employer upon request, usually after an interview and if they have decided to move forward with your application. Remember to ask your references for permission, keep them updated on when they might receive a call or email, and let them know when you land a job! They want to celebrate in your success and will appreciate a “thank you”, too.
For more tips and tricks, like how to use your network to access the hidden job market, or to book a one-on-one appointment or to sign up for workshops visit the Student Experience Portal (SEP) at trentu.ca/sep.