How to Build an Outstanding Resume

Self-ImprovementAdvice

  • Author Joel Schwan
  • Published December 24, 2023
  • Word count 1,699

A resume is a document that summarizes your education, skills, achievements, and work experience. It is one of the most important tools for landing a job interview and impressing potential employers. However, writing a resume can be challenging, especially if you are not sure what to include and how to format it.

In this article, I will share with you some tips and best practices for creating a resume that stands out from the crowd and showcases your value as a professional. Whether you are looking for a new job, changing careers or updating your resume, these tips will help you craft a resume that gets you noticed.

  1. Tailor Your Resume to the Job You Are Applying For

One of the most common mistakes that job seekers make is sending the same resume to every job they apply for. This is a missed opportunity to highlight your relevant skills and achievements for each position. Instead of using a generic resume, you should tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for.

To do this, you need to carefully read the job description and identify the keywords and phrases that show what the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate. These keywords can include the required skills, qualifications, experience, responsibilities, and achievements. You should then include these keywords in your resume where appropriate, such as in the summary, skills, and experience sections.

For example, if you are applying for a job as a project manager, you might want to use keywords like “project management”, “budgeting”, “communication”, “leadership”, “problem-solving” and “deliverables”. You should also mention the specific projects you have managed or contributed to, the results you achieved and the challenges you overcame.

By tailoring your resume to the job, you can show the employer that you have the relevant skills and experience they are looking for, and that you understand their needs and expectations. This can also help your resume pass the applicant tracking system (ATS), which is a software that scans resumes for keywords and filters out the ones that do not match the job criteria.

  1. Use a Professional and Simple Layout

The layout of your resume is the first thing that the employer will notice, so you want to make sure it is professional and easy to read. A good resume layout should have the following features:

• A clear and consistent font. You should use a basic, clean font like Arial or Times New Roman, and keep your font size between 10 and 12 points. You should also avoid using fancy or decorative fonts, as they can be distracting and hard to read.

• Adequate spacing and margins. You should leave enough white space between the sections and lines of your resume, and use 1-inch margins on all sides. This can make your resume look more organized and neat, and also improve its readability.

• Appropriate headings and subheadings. You should use headings and subheadings to divide your resume into different sections, such as summary, skills, experience and education. You should also use bold, italic or underline formatting to emphasize the headings and subheadings, and make them stand out from the rest of the text.

• A logical and chronological order. You should arrange the sections of your resume in a logical and chronological order, starting with the most important and recent information. For example, you should list your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your current or most recent job, and then going back in time. You should also include the dates of your employment, the name and location of the employer, and your job title and responsibilities for each position.

A professional and simple layout can help your resume look more appealing and attractive, and also make it easier for the employer to scan and find the information they need.

  1. Write a Compelling Summary or Objective

A summary or objective is a short paragraph that appears at the top of your resume, and summarizes your main qualifications and goals. It is also known as a resume profile, resume headline or resume statement. A summary or objective can help you capture the employer’s attention and interest, and encourage them to read the rest of your resume.

A summary is more suitable for candidates who have some work experience and want to highlight their skills and achievements. A summary should include:

• Your professional title and years of experience

• Your most relevant skills and accomplishments

• Your career goals and how they align with the employer’s needs

For example, a summary for a project manager might look like this:

Project Manager with over 5 years of experience in managing complex and diverse projects in the IT sector. Skilled in budgeting, communication, leadership and problem-solving. Seeking to leverage my expertise and deliver high-quality results for ABC Company.

An objective is more suitable for candidates who are new to the workforce, changing careers or have gaps in their work history. An objective should include:

• Your current situation and the type of job you are looking for

• Your most relevant skills and qualifications

• Your career goals and how they benefit the employer

For example, an objective for a career changer might look like this:

Customer service representative with a background in accounting and finance. Proficient in Microsoft Office, QuickBooks and CRM software. Eager to apply my skills and knowledge to provide excellent service and support to the clients of XYZ Company.

A compelling summary or objective can help you showcase your value proposition and make a positive first impression on the employer.

  1. Highlight Your Skills and Achievements

One of the main purposes of your resume is to demonstrate your skills and achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Skills are the abilities and knowledge that you have acquired through education, training and work experience. Achievements are the results and outcomes that you have accomplished through your skills and actions.

To highlight your skills and achievements, you should use the following tips:

• Use bullet points. Bullet points can help you organize your skills and achievements in a concise and clear way, and also make them easier to read and scan. You should use bullet points to list your skills in the skills section, and your achievements in the experience section.

• Use action verbs. Action verbs can help you describe your skills and achievements in a powerful and dynamic way, and also show the employer what you can do for them. You should use action verbs to start each bullet point in the experience section, and avoid using passive or weak verbs. For example, instead of saying “Responsible for managing a team of 10 people”, you can say “Managed a team of 10 people”.

• Use numbers and metrics. Numbers and metrics can help you quantify your skills and achievements, and also show the employer the impact and value of your work. You should use numbers and metrics to measure your achievements in the experience section, such as the amount, percentage, frequency, duration or scale of your work. For example, instead of saying “Improved customer satisfaction”, you can say “Improved customer satisfaction by 25% in 6 months”.

• Use keywords and phrases. Keywords and phrases are the words and expressions that the employer uses in the job description to describe the skills and achievements they are looking for. You should use keywords and phrases to match your skills and achievements to the job requirements, and also to optimize your resume for the ATS. For example, if the job description mentions “project management”, you can use the same term in your resume to describe your skills and achievements.

Highlighting your skills and achievements can help you showcase your competencies and potential, and also convince the employer that you are the right fit for the job.

  1. Add Other Sections That Strengthen Your Resume

Besides the main sections of your resume, such as summary, skills, experience and education, you can also add other sections that can strengthen your resume and make you stand out from other candidates. These sections can include:

• Certifications and licenses. Certifications and licenses are the official documents that prove your skills and qualifications in a specific field or industry. You can add certifications and licenses to your resume if they are relevant to the job you are applying for, and also if they are current and valid. You should list the name of the certification or license, the issuing organization and the date of issue or expiration.

• Awards and honors. Awards and honors are the recognitions and accolades that you have received for your work performance, academic achievements or personal accomplishments. You can add awards and honors to your resume if they are relevant to the job you are applying for, and also if they are recent and prestigious. You should list the name of the award or honor, the granting organization and the date of receipt.

• Volunteer work and community service. Volunteer work and community service are the activities that you have done for a non-profit organization, a social cause or a community project. You can add volunteer work and community service to your resume if they are relevant to the job you are applying for, and also if they demonstrate your skills, values and interests. You should list the name of the organization, the location, the dates of involvement and your role and responsibilities.

• Hobbies and interests. Hobbies and interests are the things that you enjoy doing in your spare time, such as sports, music, art or travel. You can add hobbies and interests to your resume if they are relevant to the job you are applying for, and also if they show your personality and creativity. You should list the name of the hobby or interest, and a brief description or example.

Adding other sections to your resume can help you highlight your additional skills and qualifications, and also show the employer more aspects of your profile and potential.

Conclusion:

A resume is a powerful tool that can help you land your dream job, but only if you know how to write it effectively. By following these tips and best practices, you can create a resume that showcases your value as a professional, and also catches the employer’s eye and interest.

Joel Schwan is a contingent workforce professional with a passion for workforce strategy and program management. With a diverse background in various roles across the human resources and MSP consulting sectors, Joel has amassed a wealth of experience and expertise in areas such as program management office enablement, statements of work, procurement services, and client/supplier relationship building.

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