The application process when job searching can be intimidating. It can be a challenge to determine how to make your resume stand out from other applicants, or how best to prepare for your interviews.
Amber, a director of Human Resources (HR) at J.B. Hunt, shares her take on resume-building and interview best practices to address some of the questions you might have.
Building Your Resume
Your resume should be no longer than two pages. Be concise and to the point when detailing your experience. Providing too much explanation can distract from your main points and why you fit the role you are applying for.
“When it comes to the number of pages of a resume, that depends on the amount of experience you have,” said Amber. “For me, that cut-off is about five years or less. If you have five years or less experience, one page is usually more than sufficient to highlight any project work you have done, your education, or skills you may have. If you have more than five years, it is okay to spill over into a second page.”
Type of Experience Your Resume Should Include
There is no set rule on the number of prior experiences to list, just be sure to highlight all relevant positions recently held. Also, it is important to list all skills, technologies and programs you have experience with on your resume.
“It depends on the amount of experience you have. For anyone with less than five years, you want to include the basics of your education, experience relevant to a professional setting and skills that would work in the role,” Amber shared. “If you have been in the workforce more than five years, include five to seven years’ worth of experience and a brief note at the bottom letting your recruiter know that additional experience can be included or explained.”
Make Your Resume Relevant
Your resume should showcase your qualifications that relate specifically to the job you are interested in. Recruiters should be able to easily make the connection between your capabilities and the responsibilities of the position.
“It’s good to have multiple versions of your resume. If you are looking at a specific role, it’s always better to customize,” Amber explained. “The bulk of your resume should remain consistent through each version, but specifying your objective, your summary and highlighting different projects is encouraged.”
Include a Cover Letter
A cover letter allows you to go in-depth about your previous experiences. Your cover letter helps explain your interests or experiences that relate to the role in more detail than your resume.
“If you feel that there is information that would be important for the role you’re applying for, a cover letter is a really great way to do that,” said Amber. “It gives you a lot of freedom to share information about yourself that you probably wouldn’t want to include on your resume.”
Don’t Worry About References
Candidates are always welcome to include professional references, but it is not a requirement, or recommended, to include as part of your resume. Plus, a reference section takes up valuable space on your resume.
“If you do think there is a reference that is important to include, it really goes back to the cover letter,” said Amber. “That is where you would want to put that and include a reason why you would want to add them. But on your resume, we don’t recommend adding any sort of reference or referral information.”
Your HR recruiter, or the hiring manager, are great resources to address any questions you have about the position or the company ahead of time, or during your interview.
“If you do have questions, we are always open to talk about the role, so do not feel like you have to submit and wait,” Amber explained. “There’s definitely a lot you can do on your end to get yourself in front of the hiring manager and really help your chances.”
Show Up Prepared
Due to the pandemic, most interviews are currently virtual. Regardless, it is still important to show up to the interview dressed in business professional attire. Research the company ahead of time and come to your interview prepared with questions and ready to speak to your relevant experience.
“Because of COVID-19, most things are virtual, so we’ll usually attach a version of your resume,” shared Amber. “It’s important to ensure that you have the most updated version on your application so that we can grab that and include it on the interview invite. For in-person interviews, you definitely want to bring copies of your resume with you.”