Resume writing has evolved dramatically over the last few years. With the help of online templates and resume builders, these documents now boast a variety of styles and formats. Although much as has changed in the world of resume writing, a few things are still the same and you’d be surprised at how many people get it wrong. It’s great to have all the bell and whistles but at the end of the day, a resume is not selected based on the font style, but on the content. If you’re looking to amp up your resume writing and start getting selected for interviews, you’re in the right spot. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
Understanding the Purpose of a Resume
In order to write a stellar resume, you must first understand what a resume is used for. Resumes are a screening tool used by hiring managers to get a sense of your skills, experience, and achievements. This is not to be confused with the work experience section of an application. This should not list every job you’ve ever had, but focus on the jobs that make you uniquely qualified for this position. As you write your resume keep in mind that managers typically skim these documents, so focus on being clear and concise.
Maximizing your real estate
We all know a resume should never be longer than a page or two at most, so it’s important to make every syllable count. Your font should be a size 12 standard (not silly) font and the document itself should have 1 inch margins. Don’t add decals, graphics, head shots, or logos to your resume – it’s simply unprofessional. I’ve seen some crazy resumes out there, so here’s a list of other things that should never be found on your resume: hobbies, reasons for leaving a company, salary with previous companies, twitter handle, or character strengths. The time to let your personality shine is in the interview, not with scented resume paper.
The great thing about resume writing is you’ve already been given the answers to the test! The job posting tells you exactly what the company is looking for and if you’ll take the time to customize your resume around their wants, you’ve practically got them eating out of your hands. Take keywords and themes from the job posting and use them in your resume where appropriate. The objective section is typically a great spot. This can be especially beneficial if the company uses any kind of applicant tracking system. A great way to see if you’ve done a good job to read your completed resume and see if it has the same themes as the posting. You want your resume to sound polished and focused, not all over the place. Even if you’ve had a variety of different jobs in different industries, try to find the similarities.
Another challenge of resume writing can be how to make the document engaging and avoid repetition in the experience section. If you’re a bookkeeper with ten years of experience, it’s safe to say you’ve had a lot of “invoice entering experience”. That’s great, but look at this from a hiring manager’s point of view. They don’t want to read the exact same bullet six times on one document. So how to do include relevant information while showcasing your unique skillsets in an engaging manner? I’m so glad you asked. Include an accomplishment with your duty. Here’s an example of what I mean:
“Entered Company Invoices”
“Created a streamlined process for entering invoices reducing errors by 20%”
The key here is to highlight a different accomplishment with each repetitive skill. This establishes you as an authority on invoicing in two ways: First, it demonstrates your years of experience. Second, it shows that you not only meet minimum qualifications, but you also excel at the skill. You have the hiring manager daydreaming about reducing his accounting errors by 20%. Let’s take a look at what I did in this second example and give it a formula you can use in every industry. I took the skillset and then demonstrated the mastery by adding the “how” and also a “measurable result”. Remember, the result must be measurable. You want to stay away from general terms like “made it better”. What catches the eye are specifics like, “Increased sales by 1 million dollars” or “reduced waste by 10%”.
SKILL + HOW + MEASUREABLE RESULT = AWESOME BULLET POINT
Avoid the Silly Mistakes
After all this hard work, the last thing you want to do is lose an opportunity due to silly mistakes. Always quadruple check your spelling and grammar. There is little more off-putting than a resume that looks like it was slapped together in a hurry (even if you did spend days on it). Also, make sure your latest work experience is included. It’s also important to make sure all your contact information is up to date as well as your reference information. Take the time to look over your skills and qualifications as well to include any new certificates, awards, or new software you’ve mastered since the last resume edit.
If you take the time to really polish your resume, it will no doubt lead to better results. If you have gaps in our resume be sure to read further here. So many people rush through the process without taking the time to make it an enjoyable read for the poor hiring manager tasked with reading hundreds of these. By taking these few steps to ensure a great product, your resume will leap off the stack and right into the interview stack.
Other useful articles to consider:
Forbes ten resume writing rules
CNN Money on 2017 resume styles