How many times have you heard someone preach the importance of a good resume? A lot of times, I’m sure. With so much competition everywhere, even getting shortlisted for an interview feels like an achievement.
But you simply can’t do that with a generic resume these days. The average recruiter spends only a few seconds on a single resume and if they don’t find anything to their liking, your resume will end up in the trash.
So how to write a resume that will definitely catch recruiter’s attention?
A good tip is to customize your resume so that it highlights the qualities you possess and which correspond to the ones that the company is looking for in their potential employee.
Also, following a standard but effective format, using plenty of action words and highlighting achievements, are some of the important things you should focus on while writing your resume.
A lot of candidates are baffled while writing their resume. Should I add all the languages that I speak? What font type should I size? What do I add in the Interests section? Etc.
To help you answer all those questions and much more, I have compiled a list of 13 actionable tips that’ll help you enhance your resume in 2017.
Here’s an infographic that outlines some of the best sections your resume should include:
Table of Contents
1) Follow an Effective Format
A typical recruiter has to go through hundreds of resumes every day and in the span of few seconds has to decide whether to shortlist someone’s resume or not.
Having a simple yet effective format which is easily skimmable will go a long way in increasing your chances of getting shortlisted. You can do so by breaking the resume into different sections and presenting the information in the form of bullet points.
2) What Should Be the Font Type and Size
Use fonts that are legible even in small sizes, something that’ll give a fluid look to your resume and make it stand apart. Arial, Calibri, Garamond, Georgia, and Helvetica are few evergreen options you can never go wrong with. Besides these, you can also use Google fonts like Lato, Raleway, Roboto Slab to give your resume a more modern touch.
Just be mindful not to mix and match fonts. It doesn’t look professional and moreover makes the job of going through the resume extremely difficult for the recruiter.
As for the font size, the header should be sized between 20 and 22, section head could range from 12 to 14, while the main body should be between 10 and 12.
3) Contact Information
You should mention your contact information at the very top on your resume, as that’s the section where the recruiter’s eyes usually land first.
Mention your name, phone number together with your country code and an email address. Refrain from using an inappropriate email address like email@example.com. It is best to stick to some variation of your name that seems official. For example, instead of using ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, create a new email address such as ‘DianaCardoz08@gmail.com’ which sounds more professional.
4) Use Bullet Points
To make it easier for recruiters to spot your talent at a first glance, use bullet points within your experience section. The purpose of adding information in the form of bullet points is to make the data easily skimmable.
Don’t go beyond 3 lines as recruiters tend to avoid going through huge blocks of data. Keep it up to 1-2 lines.
Also, add no more than 3-5 bullets points per company, this way you’ll force yourself to stick to the most important parts and avoid giving excessive and unnecessary information. And instead of simply adding responsibilities, make sure you mention the impact you had in the role.
5) Quantify Your Achievements
Employers are looking for information that’ll help them understand your previous roles and determine if your work benefited the company in a positive way.
To help them out, improve your bullet points by mentioning facts and quantifiable achievements.
Here’s an example.
Statement 1: Responsible for finding an internet service provider.
Statement 2: Identified, researched and recommended a new Internet service provider, cutting the company’s online costs by 15 percent.
Even though both statements convey the same message, Statement 2 does a better job at explaining how your contribution impacted the company in a positive way.
6) Translate Technical Jargon Into Simple Language
Have your job resume structured in such a way that it’s readable by an average person.
Never include technical jargons while you write your resume.
While you might want to show that you know something, not everyone will be familiar with the jargons, particularly if you’re applying to a different industry. And you never know who’s going to read it next. It could be the office staff, the assistant or the recruiter himself.
Make it easy-to-read for all of them.
7) Stick to Value Generating Content
In order to create a one-page resume, you need to know which data adds direct value to it and omit all the additional information.
Here is some of the data that you can skip:
Objective Statement/ Summary: It’s best to skip this section if your resume is job specific and it’s clear what position you’re applying for. However, if you’re applying through an agency for a multitude of job positions, you need to include the objective statement in your resume.
References: Refrain from listing your references in your resume unless explicitly asked for. If some employer is interested in checking them out, you can send them as a separate document.
Experiences irrelevant to your job profile: Your resume needs to be job specific. Therefore, mention only those jobs where you used skills that are required in the job you’re applying for.
8) Actions Words Are Pretty Important
Let’s look at this from a recruiter’s perspective. When you’re skimming through a resume quickly, which set of words would catch your attention?
Set A: Was, Did and Made
Set B: Managed, Spearheaded and Created
When a recruiter sees a bullet point beginning with a word from Set B, it’ll immediately help them understand what the bullet point is all about. These are called Action Words. These are keywords that the recruiter’s looking for while browsing through resumes. Make sure your resume contains the relevant ones. Additionally, a lot of companies use automated scanning software known as Applicant tracking systems (ATS) which specifically looks for Action words.
ATS processes your resume similar to how recruiters do it. Both are looking for certain keywords for inclusion. When you send your resume to a company, it will first go through their ATS. Your personal information, including contact information, experience, educational background and resume, is uploaded into its database.
The recruiter then search for keywords for the particular job opening. If your resume contains the keywords the employer wants, then the ATS will rank you higher in the search results. Besides this, the ATS is also used for applicant testing, scheduling interviews, managing the hiring process, checking references, and completing new-hire paperwork.
The keyword searches by recruiters also include the skills and experiences specific to the particular job opening.
For example, if you’re applying for a job in the finance department, the action words could be –
9) Active Voice Vs Passive Voice?
Do you write your resume in Active voice or Passive voice?
Refrain from using Passive Voice while writing your resume and instead write it in Active voice. It will add ownership to all the accomplishments that you have listed.
Here are some useful examples to help you out,
Passive Voice: A promotion to Supervisor was awarded to me after only one year of service.
Active Voice: After only one year, I earned a promotion to Supervisor.
See what we mean?
10) Interests, Volunteering, Awards
So, what should you add in the Interests section?
A good tip is to go through the job description carefully and list down the things they are looking for in their ideal candidate. For example, if your job requires you to be an outgoing and good team player, mentioning that you played Basketball at State-level is a good option.
Also, another thing that you can do to increase your chances of getting shortlisted is by including any similar interests that you share with your recruiter. You can check who the recruiter is by going through their company’s ‘About Us’ page and then find any information you can get on them.
Also, be sure to include any Volunteering activities or Awards (Workplace or otherwise) in your resume. Most companies look favorably upon employees who contribute in a positive way to the surrounding community and/or are overachievers.
11) Gap Years
Sometimes, it can take some time to find a new job. If you have a few months of gap period between two consecutive jobs, you can make it less of an issue by eliminating the start and end dates of the previous jobs in the work-ex section.
For example, you could say 2014 – 2016 (rather than May 2014 – February 2016) which would give you some room to cover the gaps. But if asked about it during the interview, be honest and answer truthfully.
12) Ask for Feedback
Your resume is your introduction to potential employers. It’s the first impression you make, and it helps determine whether you’ll get the opportunity to meet hiring agents face to face. Of all the reasons causing recruiters and hiring managers to shoot down resumes, carelessness with spelling, grammar, and choice of words rank close to the top. Hence it is important that you have at least 2-3 people proofread your resume before sending it out to potential employers. You would be surprised to find out how many mistakes you tend to overlook while skimming through your own resume.
13) The Resume Is Finally Done. Now What?
Your work isn’t done till you send your resume to the employer and breathe a sigh of relief. Once you’re done creating your resume and making sure everything is in a perfect order, the next step is to save your resume in a proper format.
Always save your resume in PDF format. Having your resume sent in a PDF format will substantially reduce any formatting errors that might occur on the recruiter’s end if their editing software is different from yours.
Good luck job-hunting!
There is a reason why recruiters complain about “talent shortage” despite the ever-growing list of job-aspirants. It’s because while you may be genuinely talented and perhaps even the “perfect fit” for the job you’ve applied for, your resume does not sell your story well.
The above tips have been tried and tested over hundreds of applicants and are guaranteed to exponentially increase your chances of getting an interview call for your dream job.
If you’re looking for more tips, you can check out this article ‘23 Resume Writing Tips to Create the Perfect Job Resume in 2017’ to take your resume to the next level.