15 Secrets to Writing a Great Resume
Yikes, there’s a lot of resume advice floating around out there! Some good, some not so good and we understand it has to leave you wondering about the best approach. So, where do you start? Here’s a list of 15 tips that we’ve compiled to help you get started.
- Don’t get freaked out: Many new or experienced job seekers stress out when it comes to preparing or updating a resume. Stop stressing and seek out the necessary help you need to create a great resume that will gain potential employers interest.
- Get really focused: Don’t forget that employers are quickly sifting through many resumes, giving each just a few seconds. They should be able to immediately grasp what you’re all about and what you can contribute to the organization. Focus on your key strengths that position you to meet a specific need and target specific employers/jobs. Remember, employers don’t consider resumes that do not focus on their job’s specific requirements. They expect your resume to be laser focused to the position you’re applying for. Don’t make them wade through copious text to find out what you’re good at, it just won’t happen!
- Use rich keywords: If your resume happens to fall into an Applicant Tracking System, your resume must feature cutting-edge industry jargon in the form of keywords. Not sure what those keywords are? Contact us today, we’ll walk you through the whole process.
- Be reader friendly: Your printed resume must be clean yet eye-catching. Use conservative, easy-to-read fonts, plenty of white space, a layout that doesn’t turn employers off and avoid instantly recognizable Microsoft Word resume templates. They’ve seen a million of them.
- Portray transferable skills: Show the employer that your skills are polished and will contribute to the bottom line, even if you’re seeking a job that is completely different from what you’ve done in the past.
- Focus on what sets you apart: What special things did you do to set yourself apart in previous jobs? How did you do the job better? What did you do to make the position your own? What did you do to impress your boss? What challenges or problems did you face and overcome? What were the results? How did they benefit from your performance? Did you leave them off better than before you worked for them?
- Spotlight selling points: Information should be listed in order of importance to the reader. What’s generally most important is your title/position. Here is a preferred list order: Title/position, name of employer, city/state of employer, dates of employment. You should also consider whether your education or your experience is your best-selling point and which should be listed first. Generally, brand-new graduates list education first, while job-seekers with a few years of experience list experience first.
- Don’t hide your skills: If a certain skill is relevant to your field, don’t bury it at the bottom of your resume. List them in the summary or profile section at the top. This allows the reader to catch it in the first third of the document. This also goes for languages that might be important to the type of job you seek.
- State your personal brand: Your career identity, authenticity, essence, passion and image should be expressed in your resume. You should also include the promise of the value you will bring to a potential employer. A consistent branded message should be woven throughout your resume that defines who you are, why they should hire you and your promise of value.
- Make a sales pitch: You must be able to answer this question in your resume: Why should I hire you over any other candidate? Uniqueness is clearly related to both branding and focus. If you convey a sharp focus in your resume, the reader instantly visualizes you in the position. If it’s branded, your resume immediately communicates your value promise. To take it to the next level, the uniqueness factor should portray you as the best person for the position. It should say, “This person really gets it.”
- Get rid of the clutter: Don’t use unnecessary dates, parentheses, articles (“a,” “an,” “the”). Most of these aren’t needed and remove the “References available upon request” because it is a given that you will provide references upon request.
- Structure stories in reverse: Since your resume only gets a few seconds, tell your story backwards. Grab the reader’s attention by giving away the ending.
- Quantify: Metrics that provide tangible evidence of your results thrill potential employers, i.e. Using metrics that show in percentages what you’ve done to increase sales or cut costs.
- Spell and grammar check: Proofread, proofread, proofread then set it aside and proofread it again. Then have a friend, spouse or colleague proofread it again. Kill any chance of employers reading a misspelled, grammatically flawed resume.
- Keep it fresh: Change your resume as needed, it shouldn’t be this static, stagnant document that’s been sitting in a drawer for the past two years. The minute you start a new job, update your resume and track your accomplishments so you can add them.
Resume writing might not be easy but don’t let it overwhelm you. If you still feel like you can’t do it, give us a call, we’re happy to help!