Applying for jobs in the US can be difficult and competitive, so you want to make sure that you're giving yourself every single chance and putting your best foot forward. In many cases, this best foot will mean your resume as this is the first thing that most employers will see about you. So here's how to customize that introduction to make sure it puts your best foot forward.
Even though you're no doubt the perfect applicant (I believe in you) if your resume doesn't stick to these simple tips, then you're making it much more difficult for yourself!
1. Your resume should be only one page
This is the most difficult one for every single person moving to the US. I KNOW your current one has been trimmed down to the absolute bare essentials, and that there's no way you could possibly cut it further, but you have to try. This isn't an option. Keep reading for tips below on how to keep things brief.
The only exception is if you've spoken to MANY people (5+) in HR in your industry here in the US and they've told you that two is fine. I've also been told that if you've got more than 10 years experience, you can allocate a page per decade but as always: keep it brief!
2. Your resume should make good use of bullet points
First things first, they're “bullet” points now, not “dot” points. Don't be afraid of them, they're going to become your best friend.
The voice of your resume should be direct and to the point. You don't need “In 2018, I worked to…” anymore. You instead need “Increased revenue 218% in 2018”. Talk about your skills, talk about your experience, and make a good impression early.
3. You should focus on quantifiable results
This leads nicely to my third point. Numbers are important here in the US where time is low and results stand out. Utilize them wherever you can so that there's something impressive for the reader to hold onto.
You want to show results in percentages of improvement, numerical data that shows how impactful you were at previous jobs. They don't care that you loved the place (save that for the interview), they want to know that you are quantifiably a good candidate.
4. Remove the personals from your resume
Contact details are incredibly important but your gender, your height, your weight, and your photo are not important.
In fact, in some cases, businesses really aren't allowed to know this so you're just making it more difficult for them. Cut all this out and I've saved you a section for some more numbers from #3!
5. Design things cleanly with columns
Split your page into two columns and you'll see that you've just found mountains of space. Use those tips above in these columns and you're going to fit in more information than you possibly thought possible.
Use crisp, clear headings per category and space things out so that it's easy to identify what you're talking about in each section.
6. Order and prioritize the information
They don't need to know that you won a medal in high school, and they don't need to know about the three months you spent behind the counter at McDonald's in 2004.
Keep it on point, customize the information for the job you're applying for, curate it to answer and address the questions that are relevant to the company. Put your most important, relevant, and recent information first, and trim what you have to at the end.
7. Keep your resume in a clean (and boring) styling
You don't need it to jump off a page, it shouldn't smell like your perfume, and it certainly shouldn't have huge design-oriented headers. Just keep it to bold and not bold as to define the difference between headings and content, but beyond that, don't get bogged down in picking fonts.
8. Save your new resume as a PDF
When you're all done and all settled, save it as a PDF and open it fresh to give it a look over and make sure that the formatting has remained the same.
9. Make sure you use a spelling check
YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR SPELLING TO BE ENGLISH (US).
It becomes glaringly obvious that you're not from 'round these parts when there's a rogue “s” when there should be a “zee” (not “zed”). I know it sounds like a small thing, but it's more noticeable than you'd think and some employers may see it as a mistake as opposed to a difference.
This one applies to everything you write from now on. It's charming if you speak with an accent but when you spell things wrong (yep, wrong) you will put potential hirers off.
A wonderful tip I have: Change all the fonts and install Grammarly. Grammarly checks your spelling, your grammar, your tone, and all sorts, to make sure that what you're writing is going to achieve what it needs to.
(Bonus) 10. Network, network, network
This one is a pain in the butt bit of advice, I know, but it's so immensely important that I had to include it.
Having some contact who can move your resume to the top of the pile is going to be so important. It's tough when you're starting out but if you can get ANY connection to ANYONE even arm's length away, it's going to help you.
Go to networking events even if you don't like them, go to industry events when they come up, and say “Yes” to everyone.