If you want to get hired, you need to learn how to write a winning resume. It’s one of the most important things you’ll ever write your whole life – a personal marketing document where you “sell” your knowledge, skills, and abilities to a potential employer or recruiter.
Sadly, employers have seen their fair share of poorly-written resumes crossing their desks. To top it off, you only have 6 seconds to grab their attention and leave a strong impression. So what can you do to put yourself on top of the resume pile? Following are five key tips to ensure your CV doesn’t eliminate you from consideration.
Tip #1: Identify keywords in job postings.
If you’re just about to write a resume, the best way to get started is to carefully read job postings that interest you and are suitable to your profession. If you’re applying for different jobs, take some time to study each job description and identify key words and phrases that the recruiter is looking for in an applicant. And then, make sure to include them in your resume where relevant.
For example, if you’re applying for a job as a Nurse, the HR manager might list keywords like “assessment”, “management”, “care”, “clinical”, or “patients” in the job description. Pay close attention to what’s listed in the “Requirements” and “Qualifications” section. If you have the required skills, consider adding the keywords, right in the “Skills” and/or “Experience” section of your resume.
Tip #2: Format your resume wisely and appropriately.
No matter how well-polished your resume is, a potential employer may not read it thoroughly the first time through. Remember that a resume gets scanned for no more than 20 seconds. And if it contains over 2 pages of poorly organized, hard-to-read information, your chances of getting invited for a job interview will shrink even further.
- Use the a proper, logical format with wide margins; and clean and concise headings
- Help guide the reader’s eye by using bold and italic typeface (Times New Roman is a popular font choice for CVs)
- Use bullets and numbered lists to point out important details, like your achievements and skills
Tip #3: Use a template that suits you.
There’s a whole plethora of resume templates to choose from, making it difficult to choose just one. But in order to make a good first impression (and a long-lasting one, too), it’s best to pick a simple yet visually attractive template. These days, being conservative and minimalistic is better than going for vibrant colors and chaotic visuals.
The way you present information is also important. For this, you can go for a chronological, reverse-chronological, or a targeted type of resume template. Whatever the case, choose one that best highlights your strengths as a candidate.
Don’t know how to get started? An online resume builder may just be your answer. You can find a lot of services that offer them for free or for a small fee, at Resumance.
Tip #4: Focus on your achievements.
Recruiters and HR managers, particularly those in technical fields like computer science and engineering, look for candidates who can help their company solve a problem or accomplish a specific need. That said, a candidate can’t be the solution to their problem if they don’t state how they’ve solved similar issues from previous job experiences or situations.
- Do away with generic descriptions of the position you had or applied for
- Focus on the actions you took in a particular situation at work – NOT what your job was
- For each achievement you include, ask yourself: ‘How did this benefit me and the company?’
- Write down one or two first-line job descriptions, and then list your achievements
- Only list down achievements that are unique to – and done by – you, not what someone else did
Apart from achievements, highlighting key responsibilities is just as important, but don’t make a list of your daily workload. Focus only on those that will make you stand out as the ideal candidate.
Tip #5: Make your resume an interesting and compelling read.
The tone of your CV must not only be professional, but upbeat and enthusiastic, as well. Your strongest and most relevant points as a professional must come first, using positive action words like “managed”, “completed”, and “developed”, among others. Make use of superlatives like “best”, “top”, and “highest”, as well.
Using such high-impact words to showcase your achievements is a key component to making your resume highly compelling for the one who reads it.
Applying for a job can be a long and arduous process. There are many steps to take – ones that require careful consideration on your part. Writing a rockstar resume is just the first stage of this process, but it’s a crucial one that will secure an interview if done right. Hopefully, the tips and tricks above can help put you ahead of the competition. Best of luck!
For more advice on finding a new job or navigating life after graduation visit GradGuard or follow on our social media @gradguard.
Author: Abigail Jackson is an independent management and career consultant, specializing in professional services, with 10 years’ experience. During her free time, she works as a resume writer for a number of professional online platforms and provides expert advice on how to create a winning resume.