Think of your resume as an advertisement from a major magazine. What does it say about you? Why are you valuable? What can you bring to the table? In my years working in human resources, I have seen thousands of resumes, some good, some that needed work, and some that were completely off the wall.
In today's economy, the job market has become more competitive than ever. Just because you have a college degree from XYZ University DOES NOT mean you are entitled to a job. It is time for you to advertise why you are the best person for the job, and how you will bring value to the company you wish to work for.
When putting your resume together, ensure that you have a neat, organized, and easy to read format. Most word processors and the internet have sample templates for resumes. Make sure you have a font that is easy to read, and include the experience that is applicable to the job description. Also, include your education, certificates, and awards. If you graduated from college, DO NOT include where you graduated from high school, it takes up room and it is unnecessary if you completed an undergraduate program.
Make It Action Packed
In your bullet points, underneath each position you have held, make your resume eye catching by having each bullet start with an action word. Example resume action words: reconciled, provided, projected, analyzed, oriented, developed, and created.
Do Not Undermine Your Experience
I remember speaking to someone over a year ago that was applying for a position with a marketing firm and said that they would not be considered, because they did not have experience. I looked at this person's resume, and saw that they had years of retail and restaurant experience. I said to the person that they have used marketing techniques their whole career so far. In retail, if there is a new product coming out, you help spread the word by in store promotions. In the food industry, employees are advertising new product and up selling. Never sell yourself short. You will be surprised how many jobs can relate to the career of your dreams.
Cover letters are not always necessary, but I like them because they allow you to expand on accomplishments that would not fit on your resume. I think of cover letters as a preface to an epic novel, it allows you to display your knowledge about what you know about the company and why you would be a great fit.
No Pictures Please
This is a HR nightmare... do not, and I mean DO NOT add a picture at the corner of your resume. I know what you were thinking when you were adding it, "If this company can see how great I look, they will want to bring me in for an interview." Normally, recruiters will put these resumes to the side, because if the candidate goes through the interview process and does not get the job, the candidate can say it was due to discrimination for XYZ reason. It is always great to put a face with a name, but unless you are applying to a modeling agency, then don't impose your picture to your resume.
Companies look for well rounded candidates that are involved with activities outside of work. Do you play on an intramural team? Are you a mentor for a youth group? Make sure to include this in your resume to set yourself apart from other applicants.