Tag Archives: resume writing advice

5 Ways to Enhance Your Resume’s Style

It can be hard to separate style from substance—especially where resumes are concerned. Indeed, the way your resume looks can be just as important as what it says, either providing readability or detracting from it; either suggesting professionalism or undermining it. It’s important to put thought into the style of your resume—and to ensure the stylistic choices you’re making help rather than hinder.

But what exactly does that entail? Allow us to offer a few basic pointers.

Your Resume Font

First, let’s talk font. This is an area where your aim is to be professional and to make your resume easy to read—not to be creative, clever, or outside-the-box. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, because doing so may result in a resume that just doesn’t look respectable.

The fonts we recommend are Calibri, Helvetica, and Cambria. Times New Roman and Arial are also fine—definitely not flashy, but they get the job done.

As for font size, 10 and 12 are the two levels we recommend. Anything smaller is hard to read; anything larger makes it seem like you’re trying to accommodate for limited content.

What About Bolding?

Another matter to consider is bolding. The long and short of it: You should use bolding sparingly to emphasize section headers, company or job titles, degrees, or awards. You don’t want to use bolding any more than that, though. This is one of those stylistic flourishes where a little bit goes a long way.

Enhancing Readability

One of the main roles of your resume style should be improving readability—and that means making sure your resume isn’t merely a long string of unbroken text. You should have clearly defined sections, and lots of white space.

Two ways to do that include using bullet points—especially in your Core Competencies and Employment History sections—and inserting horizontal lines to show where one section ends and the next begins.

Your Resume Margins

Here, we’ll just make a quick point: You don’t want to mess with your margins too much. A tiny tweak to better fit your resume content is alright, but too much monkeying with your margins will make the whole thing look odd, outside the norm. Plus: You run the risk of a recruiter scanning/printing your resume and parts of it being cut off.

Pictures on Your Resume?

A final consideration: Should you include graphics, tables, charts, or images anywhere on your resume? There’s an easy answer: No. It’s not needed, and it’s not professional. Just avoid these elements altogether.

The stylistic choices you make matter very much—and if you need further help ensuring your resume looks good, we’d love to offer it. Contact the Grammar Chic resume writing team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Resume Checklist: 5 Dos and 5 Don’ts

Writing a resume is relatively easy—but perfecting one takes work. There are just so many components you have to keep in mind, so many elements you have to juggle—all while keeping the final product brief and to-the-point.

So we thought we’d help you out. As you refine your own resume, use this quick checklist—which includes five things your resume needs, and then five things it really doesn’t.

5 Things to Include on Your Resume

This is by no means an exhaustive list of resume must-haves, but it certainly covers some important basics.

  1. Include a strong summary of qualifications. The top of your resume should feature a synopsis of your career thus far—basically, a value proposition, a statement of the benefits you might bring to an employer. Even if a recruiter doesn’t read anything else on your resume, this summary should provide a basic sense of who you are and why you should be hired.
  2. Also include a list of core competencies. Your resume needs a bulleted list of some of your key skills—ideally tailored to match the keywords/skills listed in the job description you’re eyeing.
  3. Include action-oriented statements. Your career summary should be focused on things you’ve done—achievements with metrics and measurable results, whenever possible.
  4. Include white space! Also make sure there are section breaks to make your resume easier to read.
  5. Include clear, consistent branding. Everything on your resume should ultimately indicate why you’re the best person for the job in question.

5 Things NOT to Include on Your Resume

And, here are five things you can omit from your resume document:

  1. Don’t include a career objective. If you have an executive summary—as we talked about above—there is simply no need for an objective. Additionally, a career objective will date you; frankly put, they are no longer used.
  2. Don’t include anything that makes your resume difficult to read. Tiny font, unbroken blocks of text, slim margins—remember that the point isn’t to cram everything onto the page, but rather to present a nice, fluid summary of your value.
  3. Don’t have typos or grammatical errors, either. Proof, proof, proof!
  4. Don’t include a mere list of responsibilities. Focus not just on what you did, but on your impact.
  5. Don’t include information that is overly personal. Your photo, your birthday, your religious or political preferences, even your hobbies—such things are almost never necessary or helpful on your resume.

Craft the Perfect Resume—With Our Help

The perfect resume requires you to consider all these elements and more—and that’s not always easy. For help, we invite you to reach out to the Grammar Chic team. Allow us to give your resume a professional touch. Connect at www.grammarchic.net or by calling 803-831-7444.

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What’s the Difference Between a Resume and a CV?

When you apply for a job, it’s important to provide some piece of marketing collateral—but should it be a resume, or a CV? Both of these terms get thrown around a lot, and with a lot of people they’re used somewhat interchangeably. It’s important for jobseekers to understand that these two types of document are not the same thing, and that some career opportunities call for one over the other.

What is a CV?

Let’s define the two terms, then, starting with the CV. More formally called a curriculum vita, the CV is most often used in academic and medical fields. You can think of this as a detailed professional timeline, showing the chronological trajectory of your employment history but also listing major awards you’ve won, academic appointments, publications, major research projects, funding and grants, speaking opportunities, etc.

CVs usually don’t provide a lot of detail for each job listed; it’s usually just a straight chronology. There are some other key differences, too. While we recommend most jobseekers keep their resumes to one or two pages, a CV can be limitless. Also, while resumes should be tailored for each particular job opportunity, a CV stays pretty consistent; it should be updated with new information as your career progresses, but that’s about it.

What is a Resume?

Most jobseekers are more familiar with resumes, which is more of a brief career overview—just a page or two, and not necessarily including every job, every award, or every honor you’ve ever had. It’s more like a summary of the potential you provide to employers; with that said, it can also provide more detail about specific responsibilities or achievements within given positions.

The other big difference? You need to be customizing your resume to each job you apply for. It is by no means a static thing. Using the Executive Summary and Core Competencies sections, in particular, your resume should speak to why you’re a great fit for the job you’re currently applying for.

Choosing Between a CV and a Resume

So which one should you have on hand? Well, ideally both, as it never hurts to be able to provide an employer with a resume or with a CV, depending on the position. Some employers might ask for a quick career summary, in which case a CV makes sense; others will want something that does a better job condensing your career into a narrative, and that’s when a resume will be necessary.

We can help you with both, and invite you to contact the Grammar Chic resume team today to get started on these key documents. Reach out to us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net to begin.

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How to Write a Resume That Recruiters Will Read

Recruiters spend a lot of their time reading resumes. It’s just part of the job—and a fairly big part of the job, at that. Because recruiters have so many resumes to read each day, they can’t afford to linger long on any one of them. In fact, the average recruiter spends mere seconds on a resume before deciding whether to investigate further, or toss it in the trash. Not minutes. Seconds.

What this means for you as a jobseeker is that you’ve got to make a huge first impression. You’ve got to grab attention. And the only way to do that is with a well-formatted and engaging resume document.

So how can you ensure that your resume lands a punch within that brief window of time your recruiter gives it? Here are five tried and true methods.

Make a Strong First Impression with Your Resume

Make it Skimmable

Remember that, with just a few seconds to spare, your recruiter isn’t going to read every word of your resume. Rather, he or she will skim through it, trying to catch on to the basic progression of your career. Make your resume one that’s easy to navigate at a glance. Divide it into three or four main sections—a professional summary, a list of core competencies, a professional history, and an education section, perhaps. Make sure each section is clearly delineated.

Top-Load It

The first section of your resume should be an executive summary—not a career objective—that clearly lays out your brand and the value you bring to employers. Following that, include a list of core skills—a bulleted list of keywords and key phrases that correspond with what you’re proficient in.

Get Straight to It

Don’t beat around the bush! Every word and every second count. Rather than open your sentences with florid prose or with fluff, lead off with strong verbs—action words that convey immediate impact.

Use Numbers

Nothing grabs a recruiter’s attention like the presence of numbers, which quantify your achievements. Not all professions lend themselves to clear metrics, but any numbers you can share are helpful, and should be included.

Format Consistently

Make sure your font, format, and style choices don’t fluctuate across your resume; if you bold company names in one section, bold them everywhere else. If you capitalize job titles here, capitalize them there. This is another way in which you can make your resume easy to skim, easier to make sense of at a glance.

Write for Recruiters

The bottom line: As you construct your resume, you’ve got to remember that a recruiter might read it—and that recruiters need something that will make an immediate impact. To make sure your resume packs a punch, we welcome you to work with our resume writing team. Schedule a resume consultation by connecting with us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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5 Things That Make Your Resume Unreadable

The goal of writing is always to articulate your point clearly—and that’s true whether you’re penning a novel, a company blog post, or your own resume. A resume that is unclear, or that makes the reader work way too hard to find the desired information, isn’t going to be much of an asset to your job search. In fact, it’s probably just going to be discarded. Recruiters and hiring managers tend to get a lot of resumes for any open position; if yours is the one they have a hard time deciphering, there’s not much point in them keeping it around.

So what makes a resume such a chore to read? There are a few common resume design elements that fall under that heading. Here are five of the most common—all things you definitely want to avoid.

Making Your Resume Unreadable

A Lack of White Space

The eye naturally wants to see some empty space on the page—not just one big block of unbroken text. So when you put in super-thin margins, tiny fonts, and no real breaks in your resume narrative, that makes the whole thing look like a headache. We know you may want to condense 30 years of work history onto one page, but there are better ways of achieving brevity in your resume.

“Unique” Fonts

Calibri and Helvetica are a couple of font choices we really recommend. Anything else is immediately on shaky ground. These are the agreed-upon resume formats because they’re easy on the eye; don’t risk the use of a fancier font, which might just be annoying for your reader.

Too Much Industry Jargon!

You want to make it clear that you know your industry well, but you also want to make sure the resume is readable to someone who isn’t in your field—as many recruiters won’t be. Try to avoid industry buzzwords as much as you can.

A Lack of Metrics

Here’s a little secret: A lot of hiring managers and recruiters like to skim resumes before really reading them in earnest, and what they’re looking for as they skim is numbers. Metrics and statistics catch the eye and make your resume more appealing. Include them when you can.

Poor Spelling or Grammar

Spelling and grammar matter because they make your resume easier to read—period. Typos are inherently confusing, to say nothing of unprofessional. Proof well!

Write Resumes That Get Read

Anything that makes your resume harder to read is compromising your job search. It’s vital to make your resume easy to digest—and that’s something the Grammar Chic resume writing team can help you with. Contact us today for a resume consultation. You can reach us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Keep Your Cover Letter Short

If you’ve ever applied for a job before, then you’ve probably composed a cover letter—but do you know what a cover letter is for, exactly? Basically, it’s meant to grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager and encourage him or her to take a look at your resume. What it’s not meant to do is serve as your memoir, your life story, or a fill-in for the resume itself.

All of this means that your cover letter should be short and to the point. How short? Well, if you go over a single page, you’ve almost surely gone too far. The question is, how can you ensure a cover letter that’s truly tight and focused?

Steps for a Shorter Cover Letter

We’d recommend that you first take some time to carefully review the job description itself, which should offer you some clues as to the top two to four skills the employer is seeking. After you determine what those skills are, think about how your own experience coincides with them. Hopefully you can come up with a few short bullet points that don’t rehash your entire career, but do point out the ways in which you are well qualified for the role in question.

Remember that your cover letter will be accompanied by your resume—so you don’t have to include everything, and you don’t have to worry about leaving something out. All you need to do is focus in on the handful of career achievements you’ve had that overlap with that job description.

You can condense your cover letter into a few impactful points, then, without the need for tricks—tricks like tighter margins or microscopic fonts. Those gimmicks are transparent, and besides, they make your cover letter more difficult to read. Just focus on summarizing, and beyond that, let your resume speak for itself.

Finalize Your Cover Letter—Then Send!

Once you finish your succinct and powerful cover letter, proofread it a few times, double and triple check your contact information, and then you should be set—all ready to pair the cover letter with your resume, and to present yourself in the best possible light to hiring managers and recruiters.

For help with any of these steps, don’t hesitate to reach out to our resume and cover letter writing team. Contact Grammar Chic at 803-831-7444, or at www.grammarchic.net.

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No, You Shouldn’t Include References on Your Resume

Often, the things you don’t include on your resume are just as important as the ones you do.

Case in point: We blogged just a few days ago about the Career Objective, and how it really has no place on a resume.

Today, we’ve got another resume element you’re better off ditching—and that’s your list of references.

Why References Are Out

Our resume team still sees a lot of resumes that come with reference lists—but in truth these lists are unnecessary, and in some cases, can be harmful.

The main reason why we recommend against reference lists is that they simply aren’t in keeping with modern resume trends. When you include one, it makes you look older, out of touch. Of course, what you want is a resume that does just the opposite.

An alternative to listing resumes is to say that references are available upon request—but we’re not big on this, either. The reason is that this is redundant. Employers know that you’re willing to offer references if they ask for them—if you’re serious about the job, anyway. No job candidate is going to deny a request to provide a few references. There’s just no need to state your willingness on the resume, and doing so wastes invaluable real estate.

The bottom line is that your resume should be about you. That’s what hiring managers care about—and a list of other people’s names isn’t going to tell them much.

Rethinking the Reference List

Does this mean you should delete your reference list altogether?

Not necessarily. We still recommend keeping a reference list. We’d just advise that you make it a separate document—not part of your resume.

Have a file where you have references on hand, so that when a hiring manager does request to see them, you can provide them quickly and easily.

Make sure that, when you hand out a reference sheet, you let your references know; nothing good can come of them being caught off guard by a request from a potential employer, and besides, it’s just good manners to fill them in.

Update Your Resume Today

You need a resume that’s compact and powerful—and reference lists take away from that. Get your resume up to date today. Reach out to the Grammar Chic resume writing team for a full resume makeover. Call 803-831-7444 or visit www.grammarchic.net.

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