You wouldn't believe some of the resumes that have crossed my desk over the years...from people looking for jobs in public relations, communications and marketing, where writing skills and communications skills are critical.
It is staggering how many of these resumes are dull, ungrammatical, laden with typos and clearly factually incorrect.
In many cases, it takes me less than five seconds to put a resume into the “no” pile.
Here are just a few tips and observation for any communications pro to keep in mind when looking for that first job or looking to move up the ladder:
- Specifics: Don’t tell me you are a savvy PR pro. Show me. Include specific things you’ve accomplished for clients or brands. Provide links to articles, videos, presentations, etc.
- Social media: A PR pro cannot survive without a deep understanding of social media platforms. Show your fluency with links to your blog, your Twitter handle, your LinkedIn page and your Pinterest account.
- Wow me in your opening summary/objectives statement: Think of this as your elevator pitch. Give a clear statement of who you are, what you can do and how valuable you can be to the lucky company that hires you.
- Customize: If you really want to work for my company, get that message through. Sure you said it in your cover letter, but if I see it in your resume (and not just a cut-and-paste job), I will take notice. No potential employer wants to feel like you’ve sent out 50 of these (even if you have).
- Write it well and write it carefully: Typos, grammatical errors, and poor choices of words are all deal breakers.
- Don’t overwhelm me with length: Assume your resume was picked out of a pile of hundreds. Marshall the most important arguments in your favor, emphasize them, and keep the extraneous stuff to a minimum. I’ve seen resumes from professionals with over 10 years of experience that include awards won in high school. Unless you were the champion in the Scripps National Spelling Bee (which would impress the hell out of me), I’m much more interested in what you’ve accomplished in your professional life.
- Make it pleasing to the eye: I know my eyes glaze over looking at resume after resume. Make yours jump out at me with design elements that demonstrate your style and your creativity.
Oh yeah, number 8. Don't lie. Do I really have to explain this?
Jon Gelberg is the editorial director of PR News. You can follow him on Twitter @jon_gelberg.