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In today’s competitive job market, you might be tempted to get creative with your resume in an effort to stand out. But before you copy Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and print your resume on pink scented paper, check out these tips for a more professional-looking resume.

Here are the basic components you should include on your resume:

Contact information. Your full name, address, phone number and email address should appear clearly at the top of your resume. Don’t make your potential employer go searching for it in case they want to ask you for an interview.

Objective. This is optional. You can include it as a brief overview of career goals, tailoring it to the jobs you are applying for. If you choose to include it, don’t make it longer than a few sentences.

Work experience. In chronological order (most recent first), list your previous jobs. For each, include: name of company, city/state, dates and a few bullet-points detailing responsibilities and achievements. Make it clear enough that it can be skimmed; potential employers likely receive a high volume of resumes and they typically make snap judgments.

Education. List which schools you attended and the degrees you have achieved at each. Also be sure to note any special awards or honors.

Skills. Are you proficient with Excel? PowerPoint? Any special video editing software? Make note of them here.

Portfolio. Just because you have graduated doesn’t mean you can’t showcase the work you have done in school or at internships. Present your materials digitally in an online portfolio if possible, or have hard copies to show your prospective employer. Make sure your online portfolio is easy to navigate and features your best work.

Now that you’ve included the basic information, how should it look?

Paper. Did you know there is actually a thing called resume paper? You can pick it up at your local office supplies store. However, it’s not required to have a good resume. You can simply use regular white paper. Of course, this is irrelevant if you’re emailing your resume.

Font. As fun as it may be to run through the long drop-down menu of different fonts and make it bigger to hide your lack of work experience, stick to a simple 12-point Times New Roman.

Margins. Remember when your college professor made a rule that 1-inch margins were mandatory because people would cheat to reach the required page length? Well, same goes for your resume. Stick with 1-inch margins.

When it comes to your resume, let your work experience speak for itself. Don’t try to come up with clever ways to stand out, like rainbow font or quirky designs. You might find you stand out for the wrong reasons.

by sophie

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