There are so many resources out there about writing that “perfect” resume, but let’s be honest here, writing a resume is intimidating. You can even pay someone to review and write your resume for you if that’s what you want, but why pay for something you can do on your own? You might be looking to land your first job, get a promotion or change career paths completely. No two people are the same; we all have different levels of experience, education and goals we want to accomplish. Aside from avoiding typos, learning how to write a strong resume will not only save you money, but can elevate your job search, strengthen your status as a top candidate and increase your chances of landing that dream job.
Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:
- Design Matters – you want a resume that is eye catching without being over the top. Choose a template that is simple and clean. Depending on the field of interest, incorporate color on headings or titles, adding aesthetics that will set it apart from every other resume out there. Do take it easy on italics, bolds and ALL CAPS – use these effects sparingly and only when you want to emphasize a specific section. Choose an easy-to-read font that looks good on both a screen and on a sheet a paper. As a best practice, test print your resume and perhaps ask a trusted friend to proofread it before you send it off to employers.
- Be Selective – Don’t include too much history on your resume. The busier it looks, the less likely a recruiter is going to pay attention to it. A recruiter may not have the time to look at more than two pages total, so perhaps you consider including just the last five or 10 years of experience, depending on your job history of course. Be mindful of your descriptions too. You probably don’t need to include the exact date you started and finished a job, so consider showing the month and year only, but remember that a significant gap in employment is a red flag to hiring managers.
- Get Rid of Unnecessary Information – to start, stop adding “Objective” at the top, these are a thing of the past. An employer wants to know what you’ll bring to their company, so consider adding a summary statement showing why you’re the best person for the job. If you’re applying for a position you’ve never held before, lead your summary statement with something more generic like “Human Resources Professional…” Keep this brief, a 3-4-line blurb. Something else to consider is removing your full street address and only keeping your city, state and ZIP. If you’re applying for an out of state job, you can leave your address off (although you probably have to include this in an online application). Determine whether to drop your date of education or not. If you’ve been out of school for 10+ years you probably don’t need to include the year you graduated college.
- Put the Best Parts First – the first third of your resume is prime real estate so you should make this part count! If you have a LinkedIn profile and you’re confident in how this looks, add your profile address under your name and contact info. Make sure your profile is where you want it to be first though (check out these tips to enhance your LinkedIn profile). Include your list of skills and expertise below your summary statement and include five-10 skills you have that complement the job description. Highlighting skills and expertise will let employers know you’re good at what they want.
- Highlight Accomplishments, Not Tasks – avoid packing your resume with responsibilities. Employers are more concerned about your successes than day-to-day tasks. They want to see how you can apply your accomplishments to their company. Be specific, but not too wordy and be sure to include relevant accomplishments that complement the job description. Accomplishments that can be quantified like client growth or cost savings are resume gold. If your resume is lighter on bottom-line accomplishments, take a look at your skills and how you can enhance that area. Are you a go-to resource for a particular skill or were you frequently consulted by colleagues on projects? Have you ever gone above and beyond your traditional job duties? Share your story.
- Outsmart Resume Bots – it’s common for larger companies to use an Applicant Tracking Software to weed out unqualified candidates. It’s no secret many candidates may not get past an ATS. To help your chances of getting your resume seen, tailor it to include some of the keywords or skills in the job description. You might end up with several different versions of your resume, but you want to make sure whatever you submit aligns with the job requirements.
Resumes are difficult to write; we’re all different and how you write your resume truly depends on the job you’re applying for. You now have some tips and tricks to make your resume stand out from the crowd. Good luck!