Are you discouraged by the lack of attention to your resume? Do you have a hard time pinpointing your strengths and accomplishments? Maybe you’ve got a job through word of mouth and need your resume to do the heavy lifting. If this sounds like you, you’ll learn how to write a stellar resume.
Why is a Good Resume the Key to Success?
Writing a resume is no walk in the park. It’s hard to know what employers look for in their ideal candidate. But basic components are essential in your document for every employer. And if you make your resume worthwhile, it will show that you are a competent and experienced worker capable of succeeding in the role you are applying for. In addition, a good resume will also demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively and present yourself professionally. These qualities are essential for success in any career, and a strong resume is the first step toward achieving them.
The first step to writing a good resume is starting with a professional structure. There’s no right or wrong way to create a resume. The structure of your resume depends on your background, your experience, and the job you’re applying for. Every applicant and every job is different. Every resume must include key sections to entice and engage the reader without interruption. So let’s review those sections.
The first section is your contact information. At the top of your resume, include your full name, contact phone number, city, state, zip, email address to get in touch with you, and your LinkedIn URL. If you have an online portfolio or blog, include the URL. You can also include links to your profiles if you’re active on social media. Including your contact information makes it easy for employers to get in touch with you and learn more about your qualifications. It also shows that you’re professional and have nothing to hide. So don’t be shy – include your contact information on your resume and allow employers to reach out to you.
The second section is a professional summary. You might also have heard this called a professional statement or career profile. Think of it as your 30-second pitch. You’ll tell the employer who you are, who you help, and how you benefit.
- Begin your summary with a professional title. This can be the title of the position you’re seeking or a title very similar to the post you want.
- Follow this with three critical skills. The company is looking for these skills in the ideal candidate you possess. You can find these key skills in the job posting.
- Then in two to four sentences, explain how your professional background, expertise, and talents are the solution the company is looking for. You must demonstrate how your experience will help the company solve a particular pain point.
Inside this paragraph, discuss your specialty and what makes you an expert. Remember, you’re not mentioning what you want out of the position. The summary is about the company and showing them that you are their knight and shining armor.
Career Highlights Section
This is a bulleted list of some of your most outstanding achievements that fall under the first paragraph of your resume. Think of all the awesome things you’ve done in your career projects, accomplishments, awards, recognition, and even training. What does your future employer need to know about you to get them excited to meet you? These marvelous things are going to become the career highlights on your resume. Now here’s the catch with a career highlights section. You won’t need a career highlights section if you are a recent graduate or just starting in the workplace. However, if you have more than five to seven years of work experience, it is highly recommended to add one to your resume.
Core Competencies Section
This section is dedicated to your skills, expertise, and knowledge related to the job posting. This is a short list of keywords and phrases in the job posting. For example, if you’re applying for a project management position, some of the keywords or phrases you might use in your competency section would be “leadership, risk management, negotiation, scheduling, critical thinking,” and if you’re applying for a sales management position your competency section would include words like “strategic planning, collaboration, delegation” or even “calm under pressure.” Your competency section should consist of two to three skills directly related to the position you’re applying for. A bar will separate each skill.
Other Important Sections to Include
Let’s look at some of the other sections you need to add. Most resumes should include some work experience section, an education section, and a skills section. However, these sections are going to look different depending on your situation. For example, if you’re a recent college graduate, you might have little to add to your work experience section. Instead of a work experience section, you should include an internships section. You can also supplement your work experience section with things like extracurricular activities or academic achievements. If you’re a professional in the industry for quite some time, your work experience will take up most of your resume; in this case, you might not even need a core competency section.
Add Your Own Section
If there’s something that you want to give an extra spotlight to, you should create an entirely new section. Some ideas include volunteer experience, accomplishments, awards, languages, special certifications, and one of your favorite technical skills. Here’s a special note about the technical skills section. With the times we’re living in, it’s even more important to show that you are good with technology. It would be best if you mentioned that you understand video conferencing software and project management applications. If you’re a seasoned professional, adding this section to your resume is even more vital to show your future employer that you are good with technology.
Build a Readable Resume
This means making it readable to applicant tracking systems and real people. Discuss ATS first so that most employers run resumes through an applicant tracking system. This helps them quickly weed out candidates that don’t meet specific criteria for the position. Now you might be the most qualified candidate, but if you present yourself well and your resume format sample for 2023 is designed correctly, it could be accepted before anyone even looks at it. The good news is that the formatting needs to be simple for the applicant tracking system. So don’t use tables, columns, text boxes, or graphics. Instead, use clear, consistent headings, paragraphs, and bullet points. It’s as easy as that. And when it comes to the human reader, they also want to see simple formatting. This includes a font style that is easy to read, a font size that isn’t too small and isn’t too big, and then margins that fit your content nicely. And, of course, no typos or missed spelled words.
Tailor Your Resume
Your resume should be tailored to your industry and for every job you apply to. So start with an overview tailored to your field of work or the work you want to go into, and then make a copy for every position you apply to. For each job, study the job posting carefully. What words and phrases jump out to you? What words and phrases are they using multiple times in the job posting? For example, if the posting mentions “teamwork” four times, you should ensure that the word “teamwork” is included in your resume at least once or twice. This will match your resume with what the company is looking for and show your future employer that you are the ideal candidate.
Develop Results-Driven Achievement Statements
Once you have a perfect structure with all the critical components of a tailored standout resume, the next step is to create quantifiable results-driven achievement statements. Remember, you’re listing more than just the tasks or the job duties you performed in the past. You’re recording the results of the studies you performed. And if you can quantify those results, that’s even better. Anytime you show that you increased or generated revenue, decreased expenses or cut costs, made a client or customer happy, led a team to victory, or even increased productivity, then do it.
You could say, “hired and managed a team of eight project managers,” or “hired and managed a team of eight project managers, successfully implementing a new database solution ahead of schedule.” Notice the first example only tells us the task, and the second example shows the result.
Keep Your Resume Updated and Relevant
The workforce has changed significantly in the past few years, especially in the past year. It would be best if you showed that you are relevant and can adapt to the times. Don’t be ashamed if you are laid off because of an economic downturn or company hardship. Resume gaps, unemployment, and even firings are much more passable today than they were a few years ago, and if an employer sees this on your resume, they’re much more forgiving and understanding than in years past.
That being said, you need to show hiring officials and recruiters that you’ve been busy and how you’ve been progressing. For example, have you taken any part-time or temp work? Have you done any volunteer or contract gigs to keep your skills up? Have you taken any online courses or learned any new skills? These things show your potential employer that you’re committed to what you do, self-motivated, and adaptable to unexpected circumstances. This is especially important with so many companies hiring for remote positions.
The goal of your resume is to make you look like the best person for the job, so get creative to ensure you get that message across.
Lindsay is a certified resume writer and interview coach. She obtained her certification in resume writing (CPRW) which will allow her resume expertise to help readers outshine the competition within the first 5 seconds of reviewing what they have on paper.