For busy hiring managers, your resume provides a snapshot of your career and is often the determining factor in whether you land an interview. Dust off the keyboard and let’s get started!
Resume writing is the key tool in landing your next gig, but businesses are busy as ever and now utilize online technologies more than ever. Evolving technologies means less people review your resume, as computers do more of the work! By staying up to date with current best practices, you’re better able to put your resume to work for you.
How to write a resume
There are several websites that share formats and layouts, but here at PT Systems, we prefer a concise resume that has a simple format, easy to read font, one column, no borders. It’s nice to have a pretty resume to hand to a recruiter or hiring manger, but when submitting online – simple is better!
1. Cover all the basics
The goal of a resume is to best represent your relevant skills and accomplishments, and there are several ways to do that successfully. That said, every resume requires these basic elements:
- Only list relevant educational degrees or certifications and/or licenses. Your real estate license may not be necessary when applying for project manager job.
- Relevant work and volunteer experience. Most people choose to list their experience beginning with their most recent job. Don’t include everything you did in your past jobs. Instead, focus on achievements over responsibilities.
- Contact information. Your full name, the city where you live, your email address and phone number. Because this personal information is sensitive, you should be cautious about who you share your resume with.
- Relevant skills and your level of mastery (for example, “conversational Spanish” or “familiar with Microsoft Excel” vs. “fluent in Spanish” or “expert at Microsoft Excel”).
- If you use Linked-In, include it with your contact information and have your references posted there.
- Facebook and other social media. Good hiring managers will look you up! Keep social media cleaned up, set your privacy setting or mask your real name.
2. R and D – Look at examples online
Don’t recreate the wheel. Look up resumes for people in your career field. Review formats – key words, etc. This is a great way to uncover stronger ways to describe your credentials and to avoid overused words.
You can also get a sense of the internal language used within a particular industry or company. You might have experience that isn’t directly related but is still highly relevant to the position you’re applying for, and you want to include it in your resume. Someone else’s resume might feature a similar history and offer an example of how to frame this experience in a compelling way.
3. Use as few words as possible
Employers need to quickly understand your work experience. Format your experience as a list of short, scannable statements, rather than writing out dense paragraphs. For example:
Too wordy: Applied expert budget management skills to achieve a 20% reduction in departmental expenses through diligent research, identifying significant inefficiencies.
More concise: Achieved 20% departmental cost savings by eliminating inefficiencies.
The typical resume is two pages maximum, so make sure all the information you’ve included is essential. If you can’t decide what is essential, ask yourself if what you’re including is relevant to what the employer is asking for in the job description.
Consider the kind of work you truly want to be hired to do. Consider leaving tasks or experiences off that you didn’t enjoy. Keep the experiences that you want to keep building on and match what the employer is looking for—this meets the definition of essential information to include on your resume.
4. Quantify your accomplishments
Statistical information Numbers and data bring your work experience to life and help hiring managers envision the potential impact you could have in their organization. When you can, back up your achievements with real data to boost your credibility and add informative detail to your resume. For example:
Unquantified: Improved lead generation through strategic content marketing initiatives.
Quantified: Achieved 180% year-over-year lead growth through strategic content marketing initiatives.
5. Use keywords that employers are using
Hiring managers want to see that you can speak their language and know the language that’s commonly used in their industry. And if your resume will be posted to an online job board the right keywords are critical to getting found by employers.
One way to become familiar with the different keywords is to experiment with different search terms on your favorite job board. Carefully read the job postings that interest you and take note of the terms and phrases that employers are including there. After doing your research, you’ll find common terms to use.
6. Proofread to catch typos and misspellings
Unfortunately, a single typographical or spelling error is sometimes enough to get your resume discarded early in the review process. Proofreading your resume is key. Make special notes of acronyms since most spellcheck tools ignore all capital words. Send your resume to a close friend or family member to get their feedback.
A strong resume can streamline your job search process and help you showcase your strengths to get you one step closer to your dream job. By stepping through these six rules, you can turn your resume into one of your strongest professional assets.