Your resume will be one of the first impressions that you make on an employer. No matter how good your cover letter is, if your resume is not up to a high standard, an employer is likely to skip over your application and review the next candidate.
Recruiters and hiring managers are busy, so their time is valuable. When writing a resume, you want to catch the attention of an employer as soon as you can, so that they will keep reading about your accomplishments.
How do you write a stellar resume that makes you stand out from the crowd? In this guide, we are going to answer that question. We’ll walk through the top 10 resume writing tips that will help you get hired.
Why Are Resumes Important?
A resume provides a summary of your work experience, education, and other accomplishments. It should also show why you are a good candidate for a position.
When you are applying for a job, it is almost certain that you will be asked to provide a resume. This document will be reviewed by the employer to understand your skills and experience and evaluate whether you align with the needs of the company.
To stand out from the crowd, it is important to write a tailored resume for the position for which you are applying. If you are writing a resume for a sales management job, you may want to weigh your management skills heavily throughout the document. But if you were applying for a sales associate job, the skills you would want to mention on your resume would be different.
Tip #1: Review examples of other resumes
Looking over examples of other resumes is a good way to learn more about how people in your industry present themselves in a resume.
Resume samples will help you understand what people in your industry tend to include in a resume, what they leave out, and what structures are most appropriate given your experience and employment history.
Once you’ve reviewed a few examples, you will be in a good position to write your own from scratch. Alternatively, you can use a sample as a template, which is especially useful if you are writing a new resume, rather than updating an existing one.
Tip #2: Don’t include everything on your resume
Do you remember the jobs you had waiting tables in high school? If you have an irrelevant professional experience to list, you may want to leave your waiting job off your resume.
Resumes are not supposed to be a comprehensive list of everything you have accomplished in your career. Instead, you should use your resume to pitch yourself to an employer to demonstrate what skills you have that would be valuable to their business.
When you are deciding what to include and what to leave out, you should focus on highlighting the skills that are relevant to the position for which you apply. This will make it easier for a recruiter to see how you can help their business achieve their goals, and thus increase the likelihood that you are contacted for an interview.
Tip #3: Use a simple style
Your resume does not have to be a work of art. The best principle to follow when designing your resume is to keep it simple and let your accomplishments speak for themselves.
You should use a basic font like Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman. You should also use a font size between 10 or 12 points. This will allow you to retain some whitespace on your resume while preserving the readability of the document.
Also, you should use a one-inch margin on all sides of your resume, as well as a single space between lines. This will make your resume easier to read and ensure that you leave enough whitespace on the document.
Tip #4: Discuss your most impressive accomplishments
In your professional history section, you should spend time discussing your main accomplishments in every significant position that you have held.
Suppose you were recently a marketing director for a technology company. You could write three or four bullet points about what exactly that role entailed and what you accomplished. This will help an employer see how your experience qualifies you for the job.
You may also want to consider writing a “Skills” section to highlight the specific skills that you have acquired throughout your career.
Tip #5: Feature your most important accomplishments first
Hiring managers and recruiters spend very little time reading each resume. If they glance over one and see old information, or see a list of irrelevant accomplishments at the start of your resume, they may not get to the end of reading the document.
When you are writing your resume, you should highlight your most important accomplishments and work experiences first. If you have recently held a job that is directly related to the one for which you are applying, you’ll want to make sure it is prominently featured on your resume.
Tip #6: Use statistics to backup your accomplishments
In a resume, “show don’t tell” is a powerful rule to follow. Rather than just telling a recruiter what you have accomplished, you should aim to show your achievements.
Did you help your last employer improve client retention by 5%? You could mention that on your resume. Did your website redesign lead to a 25% increase in traffic? That’s another statistic that could go a long way on your resume.
Numbers are great to mention because they stand out and give an employer a better sense of the impact your work has had on a business. If an employer sees that you have helped another company increase traffic or client retention rate, for instance, that is a clear sign that your hard work has made a difference in the past.
Tip #7: Use keywords when you can
When a recruiter or a hiring manager is reading your resume, there is one big question that is on their minds: “What qualifies this person for the job?”
One of the best ways to help a hiring manager answer that question is to include keywords on your resume. Keywords are words that appear in a job description and reflect what an employer is looking for in a candidate for the job.
Suppose you are applying for a job as an insurance claims adjuster. You may want to mention words like “compliance”, “claims adjustment experience”, and “investigative skills” on your resume, which are all valued in this position.
Tip #7: Review and proofread
The last thing you want to do is send a resume to a hiring manager that contains grammar errors or technical inaccuracies.
Before you submit your resume for a job, take the time to carefully review and proofread every sentence. Double-check to make sure that the content of your resume is accurate.
You may also want to ask for a friend, coworker, or a family member to review your resume. This will allow you to get an outside opinion on how you can improve your resume and may result in some useful feedback.
Tip #8: Discuss your technical skills
On your resume, you should include a section that lists all of the skills you have that directly qualify you for a position. While you may have mentioned a few of these when discussing your professional history, listing out your skills will make what you bring to the table more apparent for a recruiter.
When you are deciding what skills to include, consider what skills are highlighted in the job description. If you are applying for a full-stack web developer job that lists React.js and Node.js on the job posting, for instance, you would want to highlight these skills if you possess them.
Tip #9: Show off your soft skills
While hard skills are important, recruiters still keep their eye out for soft skills on a resume. You may be tempted to ignore mentioning that you are a “good leader” or “effective at working independently”, but these are crucial attributes that will help you position you as a good candidate for the job.
To stand out to an employer, you should aim to show your soft skills in action. Rather than just listing your skills, give an example of when you used those skills.
For instance, suppose you are a web developer. You could use this description to describe how your leadership skills paid off in your last role: “Exercised leadership skills to implement the speed optimization project, which was completed on time and resulted in a 10% decrease in load times.” This doesn’t just tell an employer you accomplished something, it shows them with reference to the soft skill that helped you reach your goal.
Tip #10: Discuss your education second (if you have experience)
When you are writing your first resume, it is acceptable to talk about your educational history first on your resume. This is because you may not have any professional experience to list in the “work history” section of your resume.
However, when you have built some experience, you should mention it high up on your resume. Most employers will be more interested in what recent jobs you have held, and what skills you acquired on that job, than what college you attended.
Writing a resume can feel intimidating. There’s so much advice out there, and you only have a limited amount of space to discuss your accomplishments and experience.
If you invest the right amount of time in writing your resume and review it with help from others, you’ll be able to craft one that helps you stand out to an employer. By optimizing your resume using the tips in this article, you should be able to grab the attention of more recruiters and hiring managers during your job search.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.