Writing a resume takes time, don’t rush through it or put in half the effort. Put things into perspective: The distinction between a strong resume and a poorly written resume can make the difference between getting the interview and not getting the interview, which could then lead to whether or not you land the job. The job could either provide you with additional training or compensation or be the stepping stone which helps you get you the salary, position or into the company of your dreams.
Remember, it all started with a strong resume.
Here’s where you start. Simply write out all of your past job experiences on paper. This should be a "brain dump," write down absolutely every skill, responsibility and job experience in your professional career. Next, abbreviate your experiences by taking out full sentences and replacing them with bulleted action phrases such as "Managed $10M P&L” Cut out any unnecessary information. Proceed in organizing under the following headers: Objective, Skills, Experience, Education and Certifications (or Additional Training, Awards, etc). Finally, clean up the resume so it is clear and precise before proofreading for errors (remember, if your resume has any obvious errors, employers will waste no time deleting or skipping right over your candidacy).
In addition, to help ensure your resume gets read and receives the proper attention, make certain you follow these resume-writing tips:
1) Tailor Your Resume Towards Each Job
- Candidates use one standard resume for every position. The reality is that every position will likely be different. Some hiring managers might focus their search on candidates with a specific technology, some a specific certification. Therefore, add additional key words that match your experience with the job description. Change some of the format so you list a specific certification atop your resume. Take the extra couple of minutes to tailor your resume towards every job.
2) List an Objective
- Client’s read objectives. Similar to Tip #1, tailor every objective with the each job. If you’re applying for a Project Manager position, yet you have a broad sales background that includes some hands-on Marketing experience, create an "Objective" that reads something like "Strong management professional looking for a Project Management position where I can also utilize my sales and marketing experience."
- Since Objectives are listed at the top of the resume, they’re the typically the line that people first see. Therefore, utilize this header to express the exact position, location and/or vertical market that you’re looking for.
3) Short and Precise
- One of the biggest mistakes is writing a resume as if you were writing an autobiography. Resumes should be brief bullet points outlining your experience. When you’re putting together your resume, imagine that it will be sent to a manager and placed in a pile of 50 additional candidates. If you keep this in mind, then you’ll understand that a novel will never be read. Managers may have dozens of resumes to sort through. The average time he or she spends on one resume might be 15-20 seconds. Knowing this, your resume should be precise and to the point.
4) Include Industry Key Words
- Do not assume every hiring manager is as technical as you. Therefore, he or she may not be able to infer you have experience in a specific area based upon your job title. Be sure to list every technology that you confidently have experience with.
- Furthermore, most recruiters search a job board by skill sets and key words. Therefore, more industry terms and certifications you list on your resume, the greater your chance of coming up in a search (thus you improve your odds of being considered for a position).
5) Use Power Words / Avoid Using First Person
- Power words provide more impact and will naturally add credibility to your roles and responsibilities. Use action words like "developed," "managed," "monitored," "implemented," etc. Additionally, never write a resume in first person. The reader obviously knows whom the resume is talking about. Below is an example of avoiding first person and utilizing power words:
Instead of this:
I designed and developed a Windows-based application
Designed & developed a Windows-based application
- Your resume should be clean and consistent throughout. If you bold and underline the "Objective," be sure to do the same with the other headers. If you skip one space with between past employments, do the same throughout. The font, size and margins should all be uniform. In addition, don’t be afraid to show some white. Try not to cram all of your information together because you want to fit everything on one or two pages. Cleanliness is more important than trying to keep your resume short.
7) Don’t Be Afraid to Brag
- List all of your accomplishments. If you were highly ranked within your group, company or even school then reference it. If you were named "Employee of the month" or "Team MVP," list it. The more information you can provide that speaks to your achievements and ability the better. Be sure to include all certifications, awards, education and technical courses as well.
8) Provide accurate dates and months if possible
- List the months in which you started and ended a position in addition to the year. Be sure you’re accurate with each, as you never know if an employment verification search is a required part of the hiring process. If there are gaps in your employment, then just be prepared to speak about the reasons. Don’t be afraid to be honest and tell the hiring manager that you just could not find a job. However, if the gap is large enough, then be sure to explain where you interviewed or what you did to keep up with your skills. Clients would prefer the honest approach rather than uncover your position was a short-term assignment and/or you were only employed for a small period of time throughout the entire year. In the end, that looks deceitful and could cost you the job.
9) Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!
- Take the time to thoroughly review your resume. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t lose out on an opportunity due to an oversight. Taking the extra time to proofread may mean the difference between getting that ever-important first interview.