1. RESUME FORMATTING MUST BE CONSISTENT.
Consistency is key, especially with your use of bold, italics, tenses and punctuation. Without consistency, your resume could be compared to someone with a hangover at an early business meeting — put-together at first glance, but sloppy and lack-luster once you actually take a look. And trust me, it will get noticed, and it will make all grammar-obsessive brains throb with irritation.
2. ONE-PAGE RESUME.
Entry-level resumes (and also those with less than five years experience) should be exactly one page. Not shorter, not longer, but exactly one page. So, play with your spacing and adjust your content.
3. DON’T SAY YOU’RE SOMETHING YOU’RE NOT.
If you claim that you’re detail-oriented but there are obvious mistakes on your resume/cover letter, including spelling a name incorrectly in an email, then you may need to reevaluate yourself and what you’re putting your name on.
4. QUIT WITH THE BULLSHIT.
When you claim that you are a “people person” and “easy to work with” on your resume, you’re actually just saying that you are really into yourself and also a bad writer. Use facts, describe the details of your work experience and what your roles were specifically. Touch on what you did to add value — that way, the “plays well with others” statement can be inferred.
5. OBJECTIVE STATEMENTS ARE SPACE WASTERS.
If you do an objective statement right, it can be beneficial; however, most of the time they are extremely generic, filled with bullshit lingo and take up valuable space. “I’m a professional. I am job hunting for a career in an excelling field. I am a robot.” It’s more important to address your skills and experience in greater detail, so save the objective statement for the cover letter.
6. RE-RE-REVIEW YOUR RESUME.
Check your resume four times, and then have someone else check it over, and then re-re-re-re-check it one or two more times days later. And then once you’ve got the final version, read it aloud to yourself. Think about what the company you are applying to is looking for. Your content should be customized, relevant and easily scanned. A mouth full of big words, convoluted sentences and meaningless adjectives (“I’m really great”), will ruin you. So PROVE it.
7. USE A GROWN-UP EMAIL ADDRESS.
Whether it’s just listed on your resume or you are sending out professional communications, you must have an email address you would be proud to say out loud. Email addresses like, “Hotchick69@aol.com,” “firstname.lastname@example.org” and “CrAzY4CaTs@aol.com, will break you, so stick to the name-based gmails or even hotmails or yahoos.
People will stereotype you based on your email address, especially if you are applying to the marketing world. We are all about what’s new, especially in the tech field, and AOL screams 1998. I once had a candidate’s email hit my inbox with an AOL address and the subject line of, “Hello.” I thought it was some sort of meet-singles-in-the-area-late-at-night weirdo porn stuff. I almost junked it before I realized what it actually was.
8. COMPLEMENT WITH SOCIAL.
If recruiters like your resume, they will stalk your digital profiles. Make sure all of your social sites represent you to the highest degree and the career you are going after. So, take down your slut shots, your sloppy drunk party photos and make sure your LinkedIn profile says what career you’re going after (it’s basically an extended resume and generalized cover letter, so take advantage).
Use your connections to get an introduction, but that’s not an excuse to be lazy. Your connection is doing you a favor, so do them one in return and don’t be an embarrassment for the both of you. Go above and beyond to show your worth — after all, this person stuck their neck out for you for a reason.
10. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
It’s all in the details. Know who you are contacting – find them online and learn about them as a person, research the company’s website, read the job description and tailor your resume/cover letter to mention specifics. Recruiters get hundreds of resumes, and you need to go the extra mile to stand out.
11. IF YOU’RE AN UNDERDOG…
Let’s say you graduated with a degree in Philosophy or another major that leaves you in a tough post-grad position. Since philosophers are not a real thing,* you should not leave the big decision of figuring out what career to pursue until college is over. You can’t just randomly throw a dart at a wall of career categories, land on something and then go do it — definitely not in this day and age.
If you do graduate without any sort of plan, it will be okay. You need to have a heart-to-heart with yourself, figure out what you like to do, and then start from the bottom. I recommend getting an internship, joining relevant organizations, following thought leaders on social media, attending networking events and finding a mentor. Your dream job is not going to fall in your lap. You have to work for it, and you have to really care. It won’t be easy.
12. A COVER LETTER IS A MUST.
Send a cover letter no matter what. Whether it’s an email or an attachment or an actual letter, you HAVE to write one. And don’t just write, “Hello, thank you for reading my resume. I have a degree in bullshit but would like to pursue marketing.” No one wants to read that. Copy/paste or insert-name-here, generic emails are meaningless. What makes you interesting and what sets you apart?
COVER LETTER OUTLINE:
- Introduce yourself. Go over the basics of who you are and what you do.
- Why marketing (or whichever industry)? What makes you passionate?
- Why are you applying at this company? Get specific – do your homework.
- Why are you a good fit for this position? Mention specifically which position you are going after, and include it in the subject line of your email. Some recruiters are filling multiple positions across the country, so make it easy for them to know what you want.
- Close — Sum up your thoughts. End with something like “Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, and thank you for your time.”
Be creative, show yourself off, and don’t forget to customize your message to whomever you are talking to. Touch on your achievements specifically and how you would be a good fit at XYZ Company. Show your passion and be confident — with just a hint of cocky.
JUST SO YOU KNOW…
You aren’t expected to know what you want to do for the rest of your life when you graduate college, but you need to have a short-term plan to get you by. Life is full of short-term check points that all lead to some mysterious and elusive long-term goal that you don’t realize until later, but you’ve just got to fake it ’till you figure your shit out and find out what that goal actually is. The key is not letting anyone know you have no fucking idea what you are doing.
Just remember, companies want to hire good people who genuinely care about learning and who are dying to work with them. It’s more than a piece of paper, folks!