Hiring managers and recruiters sift through hundreds of job seekers on a daily basis. A new resume generally gets scanned for just a few seconds, so if yours doesn’t grab their attention in the first read-through you may never be considered for the position. It’s important to format and write your resume in a way that does the hiring manager’s work for them – by delivering the information they seek in a clear and compelling way. Use the following best practices and strategies to create a review-worthy resume.
Format to get flagged
Using basic formatting strategies can help make your resume stand out visually and draw attention to the important keywords that demonstrate your qualifications. Consider using:
- A logical format that includes wide margins, clean type and straightforward headings.
- Bold and italic typefaces to help guide the reader’s eye to the vital words and phrases.
- Bullets to draw attention to important accomplishments or skills.
- A reverse chronological format that showcases professional experience, starting with the most recent position first and moving backwards.
Replace the objective with a career summary
Gone are the days of providing a standard, vague objective at the start of your resume. The standard objective statement has been replaced with a career summary that is designed to give a brief overview of the value and contributions you can make to the organization. It is a way to grab the attention of the reader right from the start. Your career summary should demonstrate how you can solve a problem for the organization or how you’ve solved similar problems at past employers. Be sure to highlight any unique or specialized industry expertise or skills that have helped you consistently deliver results in your career.
Here is a good example of an effective career summary:
Highly-experienced sales manager in technology industry with strengths in customer service, business development and negotiations. Proven skills in marketing, advertising and promotions. Successful in developing sales strategies that resulted in more than 20% increase in new customers. Instrumental in creating incentive rewards program with a repeat customer success rate of more than 45%.
Briefly list key skills
As a hiring manager or recruiter scans your resume, briefly highlighting your key skills near the top (under the career summary) will help them take notice. Keep it brief, listing three to five keywords or terms from your skill set or from the job description itself.
Identify career accomplishments
Use a “professional accomplishments” section to list your previous experience. This area should further demonstrate your qualifications and the results you have achieved throughout your career. This is not a place to provide a job description. Instead, focus on how you’ve delivered results to other companies in ways that can relate to the prospective employer. Some things to remember while writing this section:
- Focus on what you did in the job, not what your job was.
- Include a one-to-two line job description first, and then list your accomplishments.
- As you write this section, for each previous position ask yourself, “What was the outcome or benefit of what I did in that job?”
- Quantify your achievements as much as possible, including things like sales increases, percentages, revenue achieved, number of employees, etc.
Other relevant information to include
At the end of your resume
you have an opportunity to identify specific information that makes you particularly qualified for the position. Only include items that are relevant to the job for which you are applying. Avoid including things such as your age, your favorite football team (unless you are applying for a job with that organization), your hobbies, etc. Use this section to highlight the following:
- Education: list any college or graduate degrees (as long as they relate to the position)
- Affiliations/Community involvement: professional memberships or volunteer activities within the industry for which you are applying should be included.
- Specific technical skills: if you did not include the technical skill at the top of the resume, you can highlight it here. These are generally skills such as job-related software, certifications, etc.
- Awards/Professional recognition: list any relevant corporate awards, honors, or achievements you may have received. Again, these should be related to your desired position. This is not the place to include a most valuable player award from your basketball team.
Given how competitive the job market is, you need to give yourself every advantage to have your resume stand out. Leveraging these recommendations and guidelines for an impactful resume will ensure you optimize each section for maximum effect, while successfully getting through a company’s screening software or the quick scan of the hiring manager. With a sharp and distinctive resume in hand, you'll greatly increase your odds of earning a closer look and getting that interview.
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