Need to Find a New Washington DC Marketing Communications Job? Start by Optimizing Your Resume

by Susan Mullin

DC marketing pros seeking new professional job opportunities know there is no shortage of resume advice for job seekers.

Resume help is everywhere. Nowadays, you can even hire experts to help craft your resume. Everyone knows a good resume is a crucial first step in landing a good role, and everyone has an opinion on what makes a great resume. How do you cut through the noise and decide which recommendations to follow? How should you start optimizing your resume?

Start by accepting this idea: There is no such thing as the perfect resume.

Should your resume be free of formatting and grammatical errors? Yes, absolutely. Should it be the best representation of your professional experience? Of course. Will it be perfect? Unlikely. Perfection is a moving target when it comes to resumes. If you ask 10 different hiring managers to evaluate a resume, you’ll probably receive 10 very different opinions.

But here’s the good news: a resume alone won’t land you your dream job. Have you ever heard someone say they were hired because they submitted the best resume? Probably not. A resume is an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s just that – one piece of a much larger puzzle. How can you make sure your resume helps complete the overall picture of your candidacy?

Highlight relevant skills

You shouldn’t have one resume that you blindly submit for every role. A smart job seeker will tweak their resume to speak directly to the specific role for which they are applying. If you have the advantage of knowing what skills are required, and you have that relevant experience, make sure those terms are front and center on your resume.

Content is king

It’s easy to get caught up in the details of a resume. They are important, yes, but don’t spend three hours agonizing over your font choice while neglecting to put that same energy into your content. The meat of your resume is far more important than the bones. Real estate is limited, and you need to make every word count. Before anything is included on your resume, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Is there a most descriptive or active term you could use? To start, objective statements and “references available upon request” should be some of the first things to cut.

Boring is best

Neat, clean, and dare we say, boring? When it comes to format, less is more. You don’t want anything to distract your reader. Your resume shouldn’t be overly complicated, and it shouldn’t involve more steps for pertinent information– i.e. redirecting to a personal website for further details or a full work history. Unless you are applying for a graphic design job, your resume is not the time to express your creativity.

Accessibility is key

Many resumes are filtered through applicant software before they even reach someone’s desk. You should ensure that your resume is as accessible as possible for both machines and humans. You may have put together a beautiful resume, but that won’t matter if it won’t easily open in standard computer programs or on a mobile device. Once it does reach someone’s desk, active links for your email address or LinkedIn profile help hiring manager’s contact you with ease.

Don’t leave your audience guessing  

You can’t cover everything on your resume – it’s not a complete autobiography. When optimizing your resume, it’s best to stay simple. But you do want to ensure you leave your audience with a clear, concise and complete snapshot. Do you have overlapping work and education experience? Is there a gap in your work history? Be as clear as possible about your work timeline on your resume.  Don’t create unnecessary red flags for yourself by confusing the reader.

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Posted in , Job Search Tips, Resume Tips