The first step towards any job starts with a perfectly crafted resume. As you have more experience you can improve your resume but it is crucial to get it right for the first interview. We will discuss here some points that can help you with the resume preparation for the first interview.
1. Resume formatting is the key, so choose wisely.
The most important thing to keep in mind during the first interview resume preparation is the format. There are a few dominant resume formats in use today: chronological, functional, and hybrid.
- Chronological: also called “reverse chronological”. This is the most common format. It focuses on work experience, and list professional experience in order from most to least recent. This is ideal for someone with steady work in the same industry.
- Functional: It focuses more on specific skills, accomplishment or accolades. Your skills and career highlights are towards the top and your work history ends up to bottom. This format is excellent for project-based workers or freelancers, or for workers coming off a long career break.
- Combination: It is a combo of the functional and chronological format. It is great if you want to show a mixture of skills and experience. It works well for first-time job seekers. It’s also useful for workers who want to highlight a very specific set of skills and how their work history has helped build those identities.
Whatever resume format you decide to use, be sure that your format remains consistent throughout the document.
2. Do you have all your contact information and personal details?
This section is simply how a company can get in touch with you and what they can call you. Make sure you include your name, address, phone number, email, website, and LinkedIn profile. According to a study by Jobvite, more than 9 in 10 recruiters are looking at your social media profiles. Take care that your email address is professional and simple. Avoid funny or informal email addresses or nicknames. According to Total Jobs, 76% of resumes with unprofessional email addresses are rejected.
3. Think about your objective and make it unique.
A resume summary sums up who you are professionally at the top of the page in a sentence or two and serves as the first impression you give a hiring manager to entice them to keep reading. It is effective for entry-level candidates and people specifically targeting one company. Make sure that your objective is meaningful and says something about your purpose.
4. List your education
This section details your educational background: the school or university that you attended, degrees earned, and recognitions received. This section also covers training and workshops attended, as well as certifications and accreditations earned. You can also demonstrate your aptitude and strengths by project-specific examples of class work you have done. If you are fresh out of college, you might even consider placing your educational background before your professional profile. This is because your academic experience will be more relevant than your work history at this point.
5. List your work experience/professional experience and achievements
This is the most important part of your resume. It includes your career highlights and accomplishments in the jobs that you hold in the past. Always list your current and previous positions from most recent to least recent (reverse chronologically). After the company name, include your position title and the dates you worked there. This is also the section where the core duties and responsibilities of each position held are indicated and the significant contributions you made to the organization. The key is to pull out your most relevant and impressive qualifications from throughout your career and highlight them where they can be appreciated at first glance.
6. List relevant skills that fit the job
These are often identified into two categories: hard and soft skills. By listing hard and soft skills that you possess, and that are relevant to the job, you are informing the recruiter how much they will benefit if you are hired for the job. Effective writing and verbal communication, critical thinking, time management, creativity, and problem-solving abilities are all highly prized soft skills in today’s workplace. By reviewing the job description, you will be able to tell which skills and qualifications are going to be prioritized by the recruiter. Take your cue from there, and choose what to put in your resume, and where to put them.
7. Include any extracurricular activities or volunteer work
List the course name or certificate received along with the institution where you completed it and the location of that. Mention any special training you have completed. It can be useful to mention interesting volunteer activities and hobbies that demonstrate skills relevant to the job.
8. Use keywords
During the first interview resume preparation, make sure to describe your experience using keywords from the job description you are applying to. Over 90% of large companies use the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that scan your resume and determine if you are a fit for the role or not by looking for keywords. Look at the language used in the job description and on the company’s website to find the keywords an ATS scan for. In fact, it would be a good idea to use the actual words and phrases used in the job description to write in your resume.
9. Proofread and save your resume the right way
Even a misplaced letter or typographical error can change the impression of a recruiter reading the resume. Double-check everything that you include in your resume. You may have someone else go over it with an objective eye. You should also prepare and update your resume in different file formats (DOC, PDF, etc.) because some companies may have preferences on what file formats you should submit your resume in.
10. Structure and organization of the resume
- Stick to easy-to-read fonts and formats, this makes it easier for recruiters to review your resume. Use a professional font such as Times New Roman, at a size between 10 and 12, and leave 1-inch (2.5cm) margins on all sides of the resume. If you used one font style for a section heading and another style for the bullet points under the section, do that for all the section headings and section bodies.
- Keep your resume length at 1-2 pages. If you are still in the early years of your career, limit your resume to one page.
- Be relevant, concise and consistent in your layout and writing style. Everything from dates to abbreviations should remain consistent throughout your resume.
- Using lines to highlight changing sections can help make your resume easier to read and pull information from. Avoid using too many breaks, but breaking the page between sections does make it clearer.
The resume’s physical appearance, and more importantly, what you say and how you say it, will affect an employer’s decision to interview you.
According to research by The Ladders, recruiters spend an average of just 6.25 seconds looking at a candidate’s resume before deciding whether that person is fit for a job. Take this resume statistic as another reason why you need to focus on creating a resume that looks as good as it sounds.