Editor's note: The following is the second installment of a two-part series that focuses on rapid-fire career tips for job seekers. Today's topic will be creating rockstar resumes. Click here for the first part of the series that focused on cover letters.
Creating a resume that catches the eye of the potential employer is a challenging endeavor for students pursuing online college degrees. How can job seekers know exactly what the employer is looking for? Each hiring manager is different.
Get your checklist ready. Hopefully, you'll be rockstars (pictured above) by the end of going through the list.
1. Use keywords relevant to your industry. When hiring managers have resumes that pile up to the ceiling, they will occasionally use scanning software to narrow the field. Resumes that make the cut are the ones that use industry-relevant keywords. Examples of phrases not to use are general terms like "hard-working," "strong work ethic," etc. The more specific the terms, the better.
2. Remember the six-second rule. Keep in mind, you have six seconds to catch the attention of the potential employer, according to a recent study by TheLadders. List the most important information first.
3. Avoid sarcasm or being too cute. This relates to No. 2. There's no time (or space) to try to be sarcastic or try to make the potential employer laugh. Sarcasm doesn't always effectively translate in business writing, and you most likely don't know the personality type of the potential employer.
4. Keep your resume to one page. That is, unless you're applying for a federal job, which often requires several pages of experience and background information.
5. Eliminate the "references available upon request" line. Potential employers assume your references are available upon request. If they want to talk to a reference, they will ask. Eliminating this assumed bit of information will also save precious resume space.
6. Be mindful of the objective statement. Despite ongoing debate, there's no right or wrong answer on whether job seekers should include an objective statement on their resume. Generally speaking, an objective could be helpful for career changers and professionals with a wide range of experience since it helps tailor their skills to a specific position. Professionals who are seeking a promotion in a similar or related field, however, may not benefit as much from an objective statement.
7. Use bullet points when describing your experience. Avoid using big paragraphs that clog the resume and make it considerably less visually appealing.
8. Use resume paper. Refrain from using normal printer paper. It does not carry the same professional tone. Resume paper doesn't cost much more and is well worth the investment.
9. Reference your LinkedIn profile (if applicable). Do you belong to professionally-relevant LinkedIn groups? Do you have LinkedIn recommendations from current or former co-workers? Including your LinkedIn profile on your resume is an opportunity for the potential employer to catch a glimpse of you in a professional setting before the interview. For instructions on how to reference your LinkedIn profile on your resume, check out this blog entry.
10. Use modern fonts. Think Arial, Helvetica or Times New Roman (the latter being older than the other two). A good number to keep in mind is 12-point font.
11. Make your contact information easy to find. Typically, job seekers list their contact information at the top of the resume. Make sure your email address and phone number are easy to locate.
12. Proofread! Just as we recommended with cover letters, have a friend or professional mentor look over your resume a few times. Nothing sends resumes to the trash faster than typos.
13. Should you include your GPA? As you can see from this blog entry, that answer could be yes or no, depending on your situation.
14. Remember the not-so-obvious ways to boost your resume. You don't necessarily need a new job to boost the experience on your resume. There are other ways, such as earning an online college degree, volunteering, joining professional organizations and internships.
15. Achievements over responsibilities. A general focus on your responsibilities won't sound as enticing to a potential employer as will your significant achievements. Focusing on achievements will help distinguish you from the competition.
For more tips on your resume standing out, check out our brand new, free military-to-civilian transition eBook - " Make the 'Call Pile' With Attention-Grabbing Resumes and Cover Letters" - by clicking the image below:
About the author: Eric Sorrentino joined Grantham University as Social Media Manager in October 2011. Prior to that, he blogged about Big 12 Conference athletics for KUsports.com and was a sports copy editor for the Lawrence Journal-World. Eric received his bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas.