PORTLAND, Ore. -- In these tough times for job-seekers, the resume can be the crucial piece of paper that gets your foot in the door – or the door slammed in your face.
“It’s really their calling card,” says Louisa Waldman, a hiring manager for Robert Half International.
Waldman said there’s a debate among professionals in the field over whether to use a functional versus a chronological resume format; 52 percent of professionals preferred a chronological format.
There’s no debate over some basic resume mistakes everyone should avoid. “Typos, grammatical errors -- people don’t proof-read their resumes enough,” says Waldman.
Another tip: Keep it simple. Colored paper, funky fonts and wild graphics can get in the way of the message.
Also, keep in mind that one size does not necessarily fit all. Consider tailoring your resume to the specific position you’re seeking. Be aware that some companies use tracking software looking for key words. If those words are missing, says Waldman, a resume may get passed over.
Finally, be sure to get to the point in your resume. The average recruiter spends about 6.8 minutes looking at a qualified resume, says Waldman.
If you make it past the initial cut, in these tight economic times you may find yourself being interviewed via Skype or Facetime or another video conferencing service. Be camera ready, use a neutral background, and be sure there are no visual or auditory distractions.
For those lucky enough to get an in-person interview, Kathleen Everett of Bly-Welch Recruiting advised: “Breathe deeply, and not over-think, because that will be to your detriment sometimes if you are too stiff in the interview and can't think outside the box.”
And then there’s the follow up. Remember what your mother taught you and send a thank you note. In this era, an email is OK. One final tip from the pro’s: Many applicants tell what they’ve done, but often fail to mention how well they did it, so emphasize your successes.