Hiring managers must sift through dozens of resumes at any given time. Having your resume stand out is paramount and could mean the difference between getting the job and you being sidelined by someone more qualified.
Instead of handing hiring managers a generic resume, yours needs to be one of the best. You need a resume that wins, and one that makes hiring managers stand up and take notice.
A winning resume isn't fancy. In fact, it's incredibly basic in its format and design. Hiring managers want resumes that are easy to read and that contain a good summary of your accomplishments, skills, and relevant experience.
To take your resume to the next level, infuse your document with the following twelve pointers, which are compiled by hiring managers looking for dependable employees just like you.
Use a Template
You might think that an originally designed resume would become center stage amid other cookie-cutter CVs. It is far better to put your focus on the information contained on your resume rather than how it looks. There are many templates out there that will automatically choose readable fonts, spaced margins, and chronological resume formats. You only have to fill in the relevant information. It’s not cheating to use a resume template, it’s all part of working smarter, not harder.
Template or not, make sure your text is clear and easy to read. Fancy text is almost always a deterrent. Hiring managers would rather pass over a resume they have to waste time deciphering hieroglyphics. A resume that includes a clean and basic font like Times New Roman or Arial is always better than Serif fonts, which aren’t quite as sleek. For font size, twelve points works well, but ten or eleven points can also pass muster.
Eliminate White Space
Another benefit of using a resume template is that the organized sections are already created for you. Otherwise, you need to contend with potential areas of white space. Ideally, you want very limited white space on your resume. Otherwise, it looks like you have wide gaps in your experience or skill sets. Having more text than white space also forces the hiring manager to focus on what counts – your education, experience, and achievements.
Look for Resume Examples
Search for resumes in your industry to see if you can find any examples to emulate. Being able to see the work of other job seekers lets you determine what may be working. Don’t copy outright but do use these samples as idea engines to spark your creativity.
Use Keywords from Job Listings
You can spruce up your resume by adding certain keywords to the various sections contained within. Read job listings for the positions you may be qualified for. As you go through each job description, pay attention to the individual sections, such as the About, Salary, and Qualifications. What you're looking for are hot-button terms you can use in your writing. Registered Nurses may see terms like Observing Vital Signs, Ordering Diagnostic Tests, and Collaborating with Critical Team Members.
Manufacturing job seekers might see keywords and phrases such as Operating Machinery, Inspecting Parts for Defects, and Fast Paced Projects.
If you have relevant skills the hiring managers are looking for, add these keywords to your resume in the experience and skills sections to help your resume rise to the top.
Include Relevant Information
Only include information on your resume that pertains to the job in which you are applying. Leave out education or positions that fall outside of the industry altogether. Include brief information, putting the most critical parts of your history first. Hiring managers spend mere seconds perusing each resume that passes across their desks. If your resume takes too long to get to the point, you might get passed over for the job. This means you should only include your work experience, achievements, education, and skill sets as they pertain to the job in question.
Write Your Resume Using Active Language
Brevity is key when writing a top resume. Use power words like completed and achieved and keep your sentences short. This will require you to cut extraneous words. Instead of writing, “During my time at Company, I managed a small team and helped each member with various project tasks.” You would write instead, “Acted as Team Manager to maintain efficiency for all group projects.” Write each sentence as a resume bullet to keep your document organized.
Keep it Short
You may have extensive relevant experience, but your resume should not be more than two pages long. Ideally, one page is better. If your resume contains job roles, degrees, or accomplishments that stretch beyond ten years in the past, consider omitting them. Keeping ancient history on the list may distract hiring managers from key information as much as it may pain you to let those milestones go.
Only Include Sections You Need
The template you use may have sections for a resume objective, summary, and any awards you may have won. Feel free to delete any sections you don’t plan to use. If you don’t have any awards, highlight some other winning event from your past instead. You can also combine sections, such as including a summary and objective as a single paragraph. You can also add sections if you wish, as long as the info is relevant, and your resume doesn’t stretch too long. For instance, you may have published a book that is relevant to the job or participated in extracurricular projects that added to your work-related skills and experience.
Consider Different Resumes for Each Job Type
When you find yourself applying for jobs in multiple categories, such as an employee and management role, consider making two different resumes. Doing so will make the information targeted for the job at hand and won’t make you look over or underqualified. You’ll definitely want to use a separate resume if the job you are applying for has unique requirements.
Including a cover letter with your resume shows that you are not blanket submitting the document to every hiring manager from coast to coast. Cover letters should be personalized and brief. Describe who you are and why you are applying for the job, and respectfully ask for what you want, which is an interview and job offer with that manager's fine company. While you shouldn't repeat information that is readily available on your resume, you can include in your letter any technical skills, foreign languages you speak, or professional experience that is relevant and worthy of mention.
Proof and Edit
Before you send your resume off, go through it once and then again. Give it to someone else to read to see if they catch date gaps, spelling flubs, or grammar errors. Use word processor spell checkers and Grammarly.com, which has both free and paid versions. A resume chock-full of grammatical errors can get your resume tossed aside. Don’t risk it. Go through every section with a fine-toothed comb to ensure the best version of your resume is sent out.
Your resume is the first step to securing an interview with a potential employer. Use a template, fill your resume with relevant experience, organize the material so your best accomplishments rest on top, and carefully review the document for errors. Once your document is polished and ready to be submitted, start sending it out to employers. With these tips guiding you, you should begin to get more callbacks and job offers for the jobs you want.