At my practice, we recently started a dog-daycare program, and, as a result, I had one new staff position to fill. More than 100 resumes flooded my desk in response to the employment advertisement that I placed. Overwhelmed, I worried about whether I'd be able to sort out the best from the rest.
I thought it would be especially difficult to complete the first round of eliminations, but to my dismay, it was actually quite easy. And it was the applicants who made it easy. It seemed that many of them thought their first chance to impress their potential employer—me—was when we met for a face-to-face interview. But nothing was further from the truth. Their first impressions—and interviews—were their resumes. And the first impressions many of them left weren't good.
Remember that when it comes to your resume, your grammar, attention to detail, and ability to follow directions tell potential employers a lot about you—even how you might handle their clients. Make sure that golden piece of paper says you're the right candidate for the job by going through these six steps.
1. Enlist help. Before you even begin creating your resume, get tips for how it should look. Now, I don't claim to be an expert on the intricacies of resume layout and design, but I don't need to be. There are hundreds of instructional programs and books available on the Internet, at the library, and at career centers. My advice: Use them.
So, you made it to the interview stage
2. Study the classifieds. Take a close look at the employment advertisement before you write your resume. The advertisement I posted for the open dog-daycare position read, "No phone calls, please," but I heard from about 50 callers. Guess what? That was the first sign those applicants couldn't follow directions.
3. Keep it relevant. Identify the attributes and skills the employer is looking for and highlight your strengths as they relate to those qualifications. When you're applying at a veterinary practice, stating that you love animals and listing every pet you've raised since you were 2 years old is not a qualification. In fact, two of my best employees over the years have never owned pets. But they have exhibited excellent communication skills, and they maintain a high level of client service under pressure.
4. Be neat. Type your resume on professional paper. I actually received a resume that was handwritten on notebook paper torn from a spiral-bound book. You know what I'm talking about—all those little jagged edges. I didn't even need to read that resume to hear it screaming, "I'm sloppy and don't really care what you think of me." This applicant could have been my next dream employee, but she never had a chance to get an interview based on that poor first impression.
If you move or change your phone number, take the time to retype your resume. I received typed resumes where the applicants used a pencil to cross off outdated addresses and write in the new addresses. This tells me that if you make a mistake on a client's discharge form, you'll scribble in a correction and hand out the messy form rather than starting a new one. That's not the standard I want to show my clients.