Human resources professionals must sift through more than 200 emails every day. How can you increase the odds that someone will actually see, consider, and remember your résumé amongst the hundreds sent to employers each week? Here’s an idea: Send your résumé the old-fashioned way—in the mail—along with emailing it. HR people rarely receive cover letters and hard copies of résumé in the mail anymore. But before you drop it in the mail and hit send on the email, follow these tested résumé tips to ensure your credentials don’t land in the trash. 1. Proofread Everyone knows it, and every career advisor says it, but résumé are still riddled with typographical or grammatical errors. Proofread, edit for proper tense, and check your formatting. Visit your campus career center or have a friend, professor, or trusted associate give your résumé a hard edit. A flawless, error-free résumé is essential. 2. Use bulleted lists rather than narrative paragraph form Employers have limited time. Your accomplishments need to stand out quickly. Be sure to include a skills section that showcases your research, media monitoring, editing, and social media platform proficiencies. 3. Prepare for résumé scanners Many companies scan résumé electronically for key words that match the position description. Take the time to customize your résumé with words and experience required by the position. Research each company and use a customized version of the résumé that highlights specific skills for each particular job. 4. Customize your objective for each job to which you apply You should also revise your cover letter or email introduction based on each specific job and company. I’m constantly amazed by the number of students and professionals who use a standard template résumé and letter for every job, and even accidentally include the wrong company name in their letter—and wonder why they don’t get call backs. 5. Share your social media profiles If you blog, include the link to your blog—not to mention your LinkedIn page, Twitter handle, etc.—as well as an overview of your work. Put this in your “Relevant Experience” section. Just be sure the content is clean. Strategic writing and social media skills are essential in any industry. Even better, include a link to your online portfolio of work. 6. List part-time work experience Are you working full or part-time to help finance your college education? List this with your education information. This shows potential employers that you are a responsible and hard-working candidate. 7. Don’t list work unless it directly applies to the specific position Are you a seasoned professional? A “Relevant Achievements” section should highlight the best of your work, especially if you secured meaningful results, helped meet business objectives, or received honors or awards for your great work. If you have no previous internships or relevant career experience, include a “Relevant Coursework” section where you might highlight a project or two that illustrates skills or knowledge applicable to the job you are seeking. 8. Don’t include campus or community activities in list form with your academic information Your leadership activities should stand out as relevant professional experience. Include specific tasks and accomplishments that illustrate your initiative. Employers overwhelmingly cite campus activities and internship experiences as key considerations for hiring—even more than grade point average.
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9. Avoid throwaway statements such “very organized” and “work well under pressure” Illustrate successes with specific examples such as “secured media coverage in national magazine,” “raised more than $10,000 for a charity organization as fundraising chairperson,” or “successfully served dozens of patrons at once during busy evening dinner rush periods.” Think tangible, measurable, and substantial examples versus generic résumé riddled copy. If you can cut and paste anyone else’s name into your résumé, you know it doesn’t showcase what makes you so special as a candidate. Avoid commonly overused words and terms in resumes.
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10. Don’t use online templates or generic Web résumé sites Most Web templates create formatting and email nightmares. Plus, other students are also using these resources so your résumé will look like all the others. Use a clean and plain word document with a clear, simple font. The best formats include:
• Education; • Achievements; • Relevant Coursework (remove if you have completed relevant internships or jobs); • Professional Achievements; • Relevant Experience; • Other Employment; • Skills.
Don’t include a space-wasting line such as “references available.” If they want a reference or writing samples, the employer will request them. Lorra M. Brown is an assistant professor of public relations/professional communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. She serves as the internship coordinator and advisor to the Student Public Relations Association. (Image via)