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Optimize Your Resume

Top Tips to Optimize Your Resume

NEVER use a template

The tables in a template may cause your resume to be rejected by applicant tracking systems, and your resume will look just like the other resumes from the same template. A plain Word document, with a plain font (not Times New Roman), in .doc format is best. Do not use headers, lines, graphics, tables, or symbols. You may use capital letters (useful for category headings), bold and italic text, indentations and solid, round bullet points to enhance the appearance and make it easy to read, and these will not affect how applicant tracking systems process your resume.

Substance matters more than style

Although you want your resume to be easy to read, using creative graphics and formatting is actually more distracting to most hiring managers, and these too can cause your application to be rejected by applicant tracking systems. Hiring managers want to get a quick sense of who you are as a professional, so make it easy for them.

Simplify your contact information

You no longer need to include your street address. If you are relocating, it can actually work against you. However, if you are a local candidate, it can be to your advantage. Include ONE e-mail address and ONE phone number, plus your LinkedIn URL if you have one. Name in large bold font, contact info on one line below works well.

Plan for a scan

There are varying estimates of how long people actually take to scan your resume, but everyone agrees that it’s a scan, not a read. Can the person scanning your resume get a sense of your work quickly and easily?

Proofread very carefully

Have someone else read your documents. When employers get 100+ resumes for a job posting, they are looking for ways to eliminate candidates. If you have errors in your documents, your application may be quickly tossed.

Ditch your Objective, use a Profile or Summary instead

The space right below your contact information is a great place to make your argument about why you are a good fit for the specific position. Include a Summary or Profile that touches on qualities the employer is seeking that are a fit with your skills and background. Avoid Objectives as employers see them as outdated. However, you can briefly mention the position you seek in your Summary or Profile.

Yes, you may have a two-page resume

If you have many projects, internships, volunteer experiences, student leadership roles, and skills, don’t shortchange yourself by squeezing everything on to one page.

Be consistent in formatting your experiences

Typically, list the organization, then your role and the dates you had that role, either following your title or to the right (not before). You can highlight in bold whichever item you think is more impressive, either your role or the organization name if it’s well known. You may also include a summary line underneath about what the organization does. However you choose to format, do it the same way for jobs, internships, volunteering, leadership, and any other experience.

Be action-oriented in your experience descriptions

Use bullet points to describe your achievements. Begin with action verbs, and keep them concise and snappy. Quantify as much as possible.

Are you a student or recent grad? Your Education section goes at the top.

You invested many years and a lot of money in your degree, and it’s a big part of who you are as a professional early in your career. After a few years, you may move it down. Include our official name and common name: Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech). Also include the full name of your degree, i.e. Bachelor of Science in (name of degree), and the date you expect to graduate; no start date.

Don’t forget your in-class projects!

As a student at Oregon Tech, you benefit tremendously from hands-on education. Employers are very interested in how you have applied your knowledge in project work, so be sure to tell them!