It doesn’t matter whether you are applying for your first job or your 50th job – you need a resume. The resume is the common language of job applications; all positions in all fields require all applicants to submit resumes. Without this universal tool, it would be impossible for hiring managers to effectively compare candidates’ qualifications and evaluate their fitness for available jobs.
Thus, regardless of your prospective career path – or where you are on it – you need a rock-solid resume to secure your next great position. Here are a few steps to developing a stronger resume, so you can build a strong career:
Understand the Purpose of Your Resume
Before you can do anything well, you need to understand why you are doing it. Otherwise, you might focus too intently on aspects of your project that don’t contribute to its power or effectiveness. When it comes to your resume, you should be concentrating on its ability to market you as an employee. Specifically, a resume has three primary goals:
- To grab attention
- To inform viewers of your strengths
- To advertise those strengths
Because prospective employers see your resume before they see you, your resume must be able to speak for you and convince employers of your fitness within their organization. Once you recognize that your resume is marketing tool, you will be better prepared to create a document that opens doors.
Research Your Potential Employers
No two employers are exactly alike. Even within the same field, every open position demands a slightly different skillset, a different personality, a different approach to work, and more. Just as no good marketer would ever attempt to sell to an audience without first performing market research, you should never expect to get a job at an organization without knowing what the employer wants or needs for the open position.
At the very least, you should become familiar with your prospective employers’ brands. Are they casual or formal? Are they business- or consumer-focused? Are they traditional or tech-savvy? Once you uncover something about your future employer, you should alter your resume to fit their style. Then, you will appear to better match their image of the perfect candidate.
Choose Your Resume Format and Style
What your resume looks like is determined by two factors: your prospective employer’s brand and your own. For example, if you are applying primarily to staid institutions and you want to showcase your upstanding reputation, then your resume will likely be stately in appearance, with serif fonts, clean lines, and basic colors. However, if the organizations to which you are applying are younger or more casual, you might add brighter colors, include non-traditional elements – like links to appropriate online profiles – and experiment with atypical structures.
The traditional resume is organized chronologically, showing your employment and education history in the exact order you completed it. In the past half-century or so, another resume structure has emerged, the functional resume, which orders entries based on their functional application to the new job. You should choose your structure based, again, on the brands associated with the resume.
Accept Help From Those More Knowledgeable
You don’t know everything, and the sooner you accept that fundamental truth, the sooner you are likely to accept help from others. When it comes to resumes, you can’t be certain that you have produced the best possible resume until you have it looked over by someone more experienced in the field. First, you should use a resume checker to identify typos, inconsistencies, and other minor and major errors in your document. Then, you can pass your resume to a mentor or trusted superior in your field for a final review. With their input, you can be confident that your resume is perfect for landing you your dream job.
Keep Your Resume Up-to-Date
Even after you build the best possible resume, win an interview, and accept a job offer, your work isn’t done. Every few months, you should check back in with your resume to determine whether you need to add any details. As your career progresses, you will complete projects, gain accolades, advance your education, and more, and all these accomplishments might be worth featuring on your resume. By updating your resume every so often, you ensure that you have a document that is rock-solid and ready to go as soon as you want to restart the job hunt.