How to Write a Resume Built for Success
In today's competitive job market, standing out is more important than ever. Hiring managers, along with new tools like AI scanning software, prioritize applicants who can grab their attention quickly. Whether it’s a human or a computer auditing your resume, you have about 30 seconds, or 30 of the right keywords, to make a strong impression. So, read on to discover 5 key tips on how you can create a resume that showcases your unique skills, aligns with your career goals, and maximizes your potential for success.
1. The Basics: Formatting and Information
Let’s start off with the basics. First, you’ll need to choose a resume format—here are the three most common:
Combination: This is a good option for anyone who’s just starting out or newly entering the job market. On a combination resume, you can add a mixture of past work history, education, awards, and anything else outstanding that you’ve accomplished in your life. It’s perfect for those with little experience in the workforce.
Functional: A functional resume tends to be a top pick for those changing career paths or that have major gaps in their work history. These resumes focus more on skillset and experience, rather than a comprehensive look at their career.
Chronological: This format is the most commonly used, especially among those already in the workforce. A chronological resume lists a person’s work history, typically starting with their most recent or current position, and working down. Often, it’s best to choose around 3-4 of the most impactful or relevant jobs to include.
Along with choosing the right format, you’ll need to include your basic information: name, email address, phone number, and website portfolio, if applicable. Your name should be the most prominent feature—don’t be afraid to make it bold!
2. Summary or Objective
It’s up to you whether you would like to choose a summary or an objective for your resume. The summary is a great choice if you have more experience to highlight, while the objective may be better suited to those with specific career goals, but less experience. This section is typically at the top of your resume and tends to receive a lot of attention—that’s why it's crucial to make it count.
Protip: Make it as personalized as possible. Invest time in carefully reading the job listing to identify key words and important job highlights that you can incorporate into your summary or objective. By aligning your goals with the specific job you are applying for, you can distinguish yourself from other candidates. This is your chance to grab an employer's attention and make a strong first impression.
3. List Relevant Experience and Highlight Achievements
This is your moment to truly showcase your skills and experience. In this section, you have the opportunity to highlight your work history, including any significant career achievements. While it's important to promote yourself with zest, there are also some best practices to consider:
Be concise: If a hiring team isn’t already using an ATS (applicant tracking system), then they’re likely quickly skimming through resumes. Keep your sentences short and straight to the point. Long, wordy paragraphs may just be the thing to keep you from getting that first interview.
Use numbers and actionable analytics: Focus on results instead of responsibilities. Use real statistics and measurable accomplishments to showcase your abilities. For example, “Increased social media engagement by 200%” or, “Supervised the launch of 3 new campaigns which increased revenue by 60%”. This is one thing that will undoubtedly, help you stand out from the rest.
Use keywords: Keywords are the foundation of a strong resume; they are the building blocks that support it. Just like a house, without a foundation, your resume may not succeed. Many companies today use an ATS, and in this context, keywords are crucial. If you’re unsure about the right keywords to use, pay attention to the job postings and industry you’re applying for. What words and phrases keep reappearing? Create a list and implement them anywhere that makes sense.
4. Hard and Soft Skills
While you may have many relevant skills that you want to squeeze onto your resume, the best thing to do, is to select a few of your strongest or most pertinent ones. We recommend choosing a couple of hard skills (technical) and soft skills (interpersonal). Here are some examples of each:
- Microsoft Excel
- Data analysis
- Project management
- Emotional intelligence
Don’t write off the soft skills just yet. Nowadays, companies increasingly value individuals with a strong foundation of soft skills that are open to learning the hard skills. It’s important to showcase your human side, and soft skills are a great opportunity to do so. However, be truthful in your representation. If you list adaptability as a soft skill, ensure that you can discuss an instance where you successfully adapted to a new situation on the fly. Similarly, with hard skills, it’s important to be honest. Instead of writing something the employers want to see, focus on a genuine skill that you can have an honest conversation about.
5. Working With Application Tracking Systems
Don’t worry, we wouldn’t leave you hanging—let’s talk ATS. More and more, companies (up to 75%) are implementing applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help weed out the right resumes for their needs. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as long as you know how to manage it.
It’s time to implement everything you’ve learned. To take applicant systems head on, make sure your resume hits all the marks:
- Keep it concise. If a human would struggle to read it, so would a computer.
- Keywords, keywords, keywords. Ultimately, these tracking systems are scanning for all the right keywords. That’s why, it’s crucial to include the job title, along with the job listing keywords throughout your resume. This is your most powerful tool.
- Formatting, regardless of which you choose, is important. Ensure that your resume has a clean, organized, and understandable format.
Final Thoughts on Creating the Perfect Resume
The interview will be your opportunity to showcase your personality and let recruiters see the person behind the resume. The resume, however, should be streamlined, purposeful, and to the point. The process of applying for a new position can be overwhelming, but with the right tools, it can also be an exciting journey. By keeping things organized, emphasizing keywords, and highlighting your strongest skills, you will be on the right path towards a new and rewarding career.