Hiring managers invest a brief amount of time looking at a resume before deciding whether to pass on a job candidate or add them to their potential hire list. Employers typically spend less than ten seconds per resume, so you want to make sure they quickly see the connection between your experience and skills and their open position.
Below is a list of things to use as a guide when writing your resume.
- Use an easy-to-read format professional font for the body of your resume such as Arial (as in this document), Calibri, or Georgia at a 10–12 point font size. Your name should be 20-24 point, and the headings and subheadings 14 point. One of the most important elements of a resume is easy readability. Be sure to have enough “white space” on the document or it looks too busy. Avoid an overwhelming amount of text or an underwhelming amount of empty space. And never use photos or graphics unless you are applying for a graphic artist position.
- Keep your resume to one page. Only feature the most important and relevant information first and remove irrelevant or outdated information, such as jobs you held 15+ years ago. Remember, your resume isn’t your entire employment history, or a job application. It’s a teaser to get you noticed and to secure an interview. If a past previous role isn’t related to the job you’re currently seeking, don’t include it on your resume or only include relevant aspects.
- It may seem obvious, but be sure to include your contact information at the top of your resume. Include your phone number(s), email address (make sure it’s not unprofessional), physical location (just your city/state; not your street address, unless you are relocating, then do include it here), and your website address (if applicable).
- Provide a brief professional job summary that introduces yourself to the potential employer. The headline should be one sentence, and the summary should be only two to three sentences. The summary might include your pertinent experience, education, and most important skills. You may also state your career goals here.
Whenever possible, use action verbs to highlight your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Action words are specific, clarify your accomplishments, and project a confident tone to your resume. See Appendix One for Action Verb samples. Here are a couple of examples:
Headline: Customer success professional with 3+ years experience delighting clients in the retail industry.
Summary: Experienced in resolving client concerns via chat, email, and phone; routinely recognized by management and peers for assertive and enthusiastic spirit. Excited to continue my career in eCommerce.
Headline: Certified medical assistant with 2+ years in direct patient care.
Summary: Extensive experience in charting, scheduling, and delivering best-in-class customer service. Vast knowledge of clinical procedures and medical terminology. Looking for new opportunities in private practice.
- Next, identify the skills and qualities an employer requires. In their job description, take note of the words and phrases they use to describe an ideal candidate and write down those that apply to you.
In a job posting, watch for the following employer requirements:
- Computer proficiency
- Leadership experience
- Communication skills
- Organizational know-how
- People skills
- Collaboration talent
- Problem-solving abilities
When tailoring your resume, include those keywords in your resume summary, skills, and professional experience sections. Employers will indicate the skill sets they are looking for in their job descriptions. To catch the attention of a hiring manager, you must highlight how your skills relate to the job.
- Write the skills section of your resume. Keep in mind, the skills section is the most important part of your resume which is why it must be near the top.
In this skills section, you want to list the professional skills you have that make you qualified for the job you’re applying for. Again, look closely at the posting, and if you have the required skills, be sure to list them.
In general, there are two types of skills: soft skills and hard skills. Hard skills will depend on the industry or job type while soft skills tend to be more universal. Employers today are looking for both hard and soft skills for a job.
Soft skills include things like interpersonal communication, organization, adaptability, customer service, attention to detail, collaboration, decision-making, leadership, creativity, multitasking, problem-solving, self-motivation, time management, or strong work ethic.
Hard skills are more often tied to specific tools, software, or knowledge. Hard skills include things like speaking a foreign language, accounting, bookkeeping, typing skills, writing, editing, data analysis, process automation, product design, or project management.
You can list your skills in a single paragraph with each skill separated by a comma. Start with the skills you’re most proficient in.
If you don’t meet the exact requirements, list your related or similar skills. And if you’ve never worked in that position or industry before, don’t expect the employer to figure out how you fit. Show the manager how you’re the right person by demonstrating how your credentials, experience, and skills are transferable. Give a clear description of how you meet the job posting requirements.
- The next section is your work experience including all the titles of your previous position(s), name of your employer(s), time you held the position, basic duties, accomplishments, special achievements or awards, and significant contributions. Don’t be shy. Be proud.
You want to only include the details of your past work that are especially relevant to the work you want to do next. Include more details about your most recent jobs and fewer details from the roles you held earlier in your career. Employers are most likely to be interested in your current accomplishments.
Use bullet points rather than paragraphs to organize your work experience.
Once again, use strong action verbs to describe your accomplishments rather than just a task. Employers are interested in what you’ve achieved, not just what you’ve done.
Task: Greeted customers
Accomplishment: Provided friendly and helpful service by greeting customers.
- Fill employment gaps with other experiences such as education, contract work, volunteer work, or freelance employment if possible. For example, if you worked on personal projects or as a freelancer, you could put “Self-employed” where you would otherwise list an employer. Employment gaps are a red flag to potential employers.
- Your education should be listed at the end of your resume. Exceptions to this may be if you’re applying for a job that requires specific degrees or certifications (as in the healthcare industry, for example).
- The final step is to proofread your resume. After taking the time to write an incredible resume, you don’t want typos and spelling mistakes. The first typo may get you rejected.
NOTE: Do not include your salary history or references on a resume.
Appendix One – Action Verbs
To showcase accomplishments:
To explain responsibilities:
To express communication skills:
For creative experience:
For sales experience:
For leadership and management:
For experience with finance:
For technical experience:
NOTE: This “action word” list was first published by: https://resumegenius.com/blog/resume-help/action-verbs/