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December 30, 2013 / Stephanie Anderson

Stand out: resume advice from organization to objectives

Guest Q&A with Erin Osterhaus, HR Analyst at Software Advice

With the new year upon us and resolutions top of mind, it is a great time to dive into your 2014 job search.  Step one: dust off the old resume for a much needed update.  Your resume is the first impression you will make with a potential employer, does it reflect all that you have to offer?  Consider the following advice from Erin Osterhaus to ensure your resume has employers contacting you to learn more.

shutterstock_105088013With sources like online portfolios/blog and LinkedIn, are paper resumes as valuable as they used to be?

Actual physical paper resumes may not be common currency anymore, but having a digital version of your resume (preferably in PDF format–not everyone will have MS Word) is still critical to ensuring that recruiters are able to glean the most relevant bits of your past professional history. Yes, LinkedIn is important, but it has yet to replace the good, old-fashioned resume.

How can including numbers on your resume make you stand out to hiring managers?

Simply by including numbers–past accomplishments, growth over time, etc–you’re indicating to recruiters and hiring managers that you know the purpose of any job is to produce an outcome. By showing that you understand the importance of goals, and even more important–hitting those goals–you’re sure to stand out from the crowd.

How can recent college grads or people with heavy writing backgrounds use numbers to their advantage?

Highlight the numbers that make you stand out. If you’re just starting out in your career, your GPA is an obvious thing to point out. If you’ve got a heavy writing background, how many publications did you write for? How often did you contribute? Show potential employers that, not only are you a great writer, but that you can produce articles on tight deadlines and in high volumes.

People often debate whether an objective statement should be included on a resume. Is it still a best practice to include a statement like this, and how can you make it relevant and interesting?

A non-descript objective statement is one of the greatest disservices you can do yourself when applying for a job. Your objective should never be, “I want to work at X Company in Y Role.” That’s a no-brainer, the act of submitting an application indicates interest in the role. What do you want to do with your career? What do you want to bring to a company? If you can’t come up with something unique and engaging, it’s better to just leave the objective off of your resume all together.

Organization is always a consideration when writing a resume. Is there a certain order for schooling, skills, job experience, etc. that most hiring managers like to see on a resume?

That’s a great question. I asked our head recruiter here at Software Advice, Bethany Perkins, for her thoughts, as she looks at hundreds of resumes a week. Here’s what she had to say:

“I think it depends on your experience and the role. Younger applicants should highlight a great academic career at the top of their resume to make up for a lack of experience. More experienced candidates might choose to put their education at the bottom of their resume, especially if their degree isn’t related to their current career path. I think a good rule of thumb is that you want to put the stuff that makes you look the most desirable as a candidate for this specific role at the top. The cool stuff you’ve done that’s not closely related should be pushed toward the bottom. But above all, ORGANIZATION is the key to a good resume – make sure it’s easy to scan and the information is clear and readable.”

Erin Osterhaus is the HR Analyst at Software Advice, where she conducts research on HR systems. She joined Software Advice after earning an M.A. in German and European Studies from Georgetown University. She focuses on the HR market, offering advice to industry professionals on the best recruiting, talent management, and leadership techniques. When she’s not writing about up-and-coming trends in HR, she’s reading novels or traveling to exotic locations (or both). Feel free to connect with Erin on LinkedIn.

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