The purpose of a resume is to convey just enough information to the reader to land yourself an interview. No more. No one was ever hired based on a resume alone, no matter how wonderfully it was written. Once you land that interview, the job of the resume is over. So, your goal is to write a resume that will avoid the waste paper basket. The following guidelines and tips will address how to write a resume that a hiring manager will take the time to read, and how to make your resume stand out from the rest getting you that well deserved interview.
- Use a summary
- List your education
- List your experience in chronological order
- Dates Matter
- Make it readable
- Do not provide company overviews
- Highlight accomplishments, not just job functions
- Use action verbs
- Do not list irrelevant information
- Take the time to make your resume POP
- Be concise
Use a summary.
The summary would typically be the first thing on your resume in the absence of an objective. Here you can list your technical skills—those most often required for the position—in a succinct, organized fashion. The summary should be short, use powerful language, and get right to the point, while using as many relevant keywords as possible.
Always list your education.
If you only have a two year degree or maybe a four year degree in some obscure field, you should still list it. Whatever you believe you might gain from leaving it off, rest assured that anyone who reads your resume will assume much worse if you don’t list it at all. Your education should either immediately follow the summary or be the last thing on your resume depending on how much emphasis it should be given.
List your experience in chronological order.
Most interviewers, managers, and resume screeners have a stack of resumes on their desk a mile high, and when they want information they don’t want to have to search for it. So of the two main types of resumes—chronological, which shows at a glance where you have worked starting with the most recent position first, and functional, which groups together similar experiences regardless of the order in which they occur —nine times out of ten you should use a chronological resume.
Be clear about your dates of employment. Most companies want to see months, not just years - especially if you have some jumps or if you are currently unemployed (ie: they want to see how long you have been out). It's better to be upfront than to make them guess.
Make it readable.
You spend all of this time deliberating over every single word you put onto your resume, so don’t waste all of that hard work by then making the resume unreadable. By unreadable, we mean that you have
- Multiple fonts
- Zero whitespace
Make sure that you spell check, use 1 to 2 fonts max, and whitespace. Whitespace and bullets make it easier for people to look over your resume – and that’s what you want.
Do not provide company overviews.
Don’t waste precious space on a synopsis of what the company does. A two or three word description such as “Regional Advertising Agency” is usually enough prior to any interview.
Highlight accomplishments, not just job functions.
The descriptions of your positions should ideally be a mix of a broad overview and specific accomplishments. That way, recruiters will know what you did day-to-day, but also what effect your activities had on the overall company or department.
Use action verbs.
The most overused phrases on resumes are "responsible for" or "participated in". It's hard to know if you were just a bystander or a true contributor or even a leader on a project. It's okay to use these terms once or twice, but it's much better to use something like "managed", "completed", "administered", "developed" etc.
Do not list irrelevant information.
In General, anything that is not part of your work history and does not relate to the position should be left off of your resume.
Take the time to make your resume POP!
There are a few tips that you can use to really make your resume stand out. First, each sentence should begin with a powerful action verb or two. This portrays you as someone who gets things done. Furthermore, by using a variety of action verbs throughout your resume you present yourself as someone who has a diverse range of experience. Second, quantify your experience wherever possible. Cite numerical figures such as budgets that you have managed, money or time saved due to process improvements, number of use cases written, or number of people you have trained or mentored. Numbers demonstrate your accomplishments in a definitive and objective way. They also stick in a hiring manager’s mind making you the candidate that they remember.
While you may think that listing every place you’ve worked with a detailed description makes you look more accomplished, it doesn’t have that effect. Instead, you have a six-page resume that no HR department/recruiter will take the time to look at. (I know. It’s sad, but true.) Keep your resume to two to three pages max, and you’ll increase the likelihood that a recruiter or hiring manager will take the time to give you a second look.