25 Resume Tips That Help Make a Great First Impression

resume-tips-first-impressionFrequently your resume is your first chance to make an impression on a recruiter or hiring manager. And you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so the importance of the resume cannot be underestimated. Here are my top quick tips for creating a resume that makes a great first impression and gets hiring managers to take a second look at you.


  1. Include a professional e-mail address; even your e-mail is part of your brand. (i.e., partygirl7@aol.com won't cut it)

  2. Include a phone number that is attached to a professional voice-mail message. A goofy voice mail will encourage recruiters to walk away.

  3. A resume objective describes what you want, and employers don't care about what you want. They care about problems you can solve for them.

  4. Create a profile at the top of your resume to prove your value proposition to a hiring authority, instead of an objective.

  5. Refrain from using subjective words like "loyal" or "trustworthy" to explain your candidacy; you are a job seeker, not man's best friend.

  6. Omit phrases such as "responsible for" or "duties included" from your resume; opt for stronger language such as "managed" or "oversaw."

  7. On your resume, your professional experience section is about where you've been; your top profile section is about where you want to go.

  8. Your resume profile is the 40,000-ft. view of what you can do; your experience section is the granular proof of this based on past success.

  9. List core competencies, keywords, or buzzwords for your job function/industry on the resume to please recruiters and resume-parsing software.

  10. Include months and years on your resume for any positions you were at for less than two years; omitting the months in short-tenured positions is deceptive.

  11. If you were let go from several positions with short tenure due to a downsizing, explain that briefly right on the resume. Transparency is always better than obscurity.

  12. If you left the workplace to take care of a child or aging parent, explain that right on the resume. Don't make the reader guess what you were doing during that gap. Their assumptions will rarely work in your favor.

  13. Minimize descriptions of job tasks and maximize descriptions of accomplishments. Sell it, don't tell it.

  14. Quantify your accomplishments: Show numbers, dollars, and percentages to prove impact in a job.

  15. List hobbies and volunteer experience when relevant to your job target. Leave your passion for stamp collecting off the resume.

  16. Include graduation dates; omitting them raises suspicion and calls more attention to the very thing you are trying to hide. (See also Resumes and Age Bias: To Date or Not to Date?)

  17. If you are a recent grad, list a high GPA and relevant coursework, school projects, and internships. Unpaid experience still counts.

  18. Omit "references available upon request." With Google and other search engines, references are available whether you want them to be or not.

  19. Use charts and graphs on your resume to demonstrate impact. A picture is worth a thousand words -- and a bit of "bling" is not a bad thing.



  20. A longer read that is readable is better than a quick read that is not. Pick a font of at least 10 point so the resume is easy to read.
  21. For a U.S. resume, omit references to date of birth, marital status, or religion. Employers cannot request it; offering it makes you look clueless.

  22. Create a text-only version of your resume to preserve the formatting when uploading into a company text box. Word documents will quickly turn into gibberish when placed in a text box.

  23. Treat every word on your resume like expensive New York City real estate. Square footage is at a premium; so make every word count.

  24. Half of hiring managers read cover letters, the other half do not; but you never know which half you are dealing with -- so always send one.

  25. Use the cover letter to match your skills to the job spec. If the job requires eight skills and you only have two, don't apply.

Next: Check out the AOL Jobs collection of resume samples >>

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