If you’re applying for a new job or looking for a career change, then it’s time to make updating your resume a top priority. Or if you’re applying for your first job, it’s important to know how to get started. No matter where you are in your career journey, having a strong resume is a must-have.
Think of your resume as your personal marketing document that is designed to sell your skills and showcase what you can bring to the table.
It should be easy to read and read quickly. Industry research indicates that on average recruiters spend 6-8 seconds looking at your resume before they decide whether you are the right fit for the job. That is not a lot of time, so it is important that you get the first impression right!
So, what does this mean? You must hit the highlights in your first couple of sentences or bullets.
It is unfair, I know. I have heard it before, but it’s true. Some recruiters may review 20-50 resumes per day. They must use techniques that allow them to look for the “juicy morsels” with a quick look. Think of it as a political or network news “sound bite”. Tell the whole story in one sentence and a couple of bullets…details can follow.
Put The Work In
Creating a resume can be a tedious process, but don’t get discouraged. Putting pen to paper and finding the motivation to get started is the hardest part. Once you’ve taken that first leap, you’ll be off and running.
“No one creates a perfect resume on their first try. Writing a perfect resume is a messy process, but the easiest way to start is by simply getting in the right mindset and putting pen to paper.” ― Matthew T. Cross, The Resume Design Book: How to Write a Resume in College & Influence Employers to Hire You
The Resume Writing Tips You Need
If you’re applying for multiple jobs across different industries, then you may want to consider having more than one version of your resume. This way, your resume will be tailored to each specific job you are applying for–making it much easier for recruiters to gauge the type of role you are seeking.
To write a winning resume, you’ll want to ensure that you do the following:
Match your Resume to the Job Description!
Be sure to show a clear match between your skills and the job requirements and demonstrate how you meet those skills. Put an emphasis on relevant strengths and eliminate any details that are unrelated to the position.
Pro Tip: Incorporate keywords in your resume that are used in the job description.
Focus on Your Achievements
When highlighting your key responsibilities, focus on accomplishments that are noteworthy and measurable. How did you contribute to the organization? Did you exceed goals, improve processes, or generate new customers? Whenever possible, be sure to add quantifiable data such as percentages or dollar amounts. These unique attributes and measurable figures will help catch the recruiter’s eye. If you have resume gaps, be prepared to explain why and what you during during that time period.
Make your Resume Compelling
Your resume should tell a story—your own unique one! Keep the tone upbeat, but also professional. Always use strong “action” words such as ‘created’ or ‘managed.’ When you present your accomplishments honestly using high-impact words, it will help them stand out and make for a more exciting read.
Structure and Format Correctly
Center your contact details at the top of the resume and include your name, address, phone number, and email address. If you have a personal website, blog, or portfolio, you can also add that here. Most importantly, make sure you use a large enough font that’s legible. The standard font size for resumes is 12 points in a classic and easily readable font (e.g. Times New Roman).
The next section should list your relevant education and training. That should be followed by your career history in reverse chronological order. List your job title, the name of the employer, and the dates you worked there. Then, follow that up with a few short, bulleted points outlining your key responsibilities, skills, and accomplishments for each of your roles. The most common way to close your resume is with a simple “References available upon request” centered at the bottom.
Pro Tip: Two pages are OK and should be the max, but most recruiters prefer to receive a one-page resume so they can easily and quickly scan your details.
When crafting your resume, the most important thing you can do is describe your qualifications and what makes you unique. To compete in today’s job market, you need a resume that not only markets your strengths but makes you stand out among other applicants.
Pro Tip: A very short cover letter is a very good way to hit key points of your experience and background. A couple of short paragraphs (1-2 sentences) with 3-4 short bullet points, allows you to tailor your broad resume’ to the specific job. Remember, make it short, concise and to the point.
Remember that your resume is often the first impression that a potential employer has of you, so you want it to be a good one. A great resume grabs the attention of employers and recruiters–and that’s what you want!
Once you’ve crafted your winning resume, learn how to write an attention-grabbing cover letter.
For additional tips and advice, check out 9 Things Recruiters and Employers Look for in a Resume. There are also many free resume templates available online. These can be especially helpful–whether you’re creating a professional resume or seeking a more creative style.
About the Author
Kim is a seasoned content marketing professional with over twelve years of corporate communications experience. Her sweetspot is with creative writing both short and long-form, and she has a proven track record working with IBM, Jackson Healthcare, and Walt Disney World, among many others. Kim is also a singer and actress and has been performing on stage and screen her entire life and has a great passion for TV and film production. Connect with Kim on LinkedIn.