A resume is one of the most important documents you attach your name to. The content on these few pages can drastically change your life, presenting you with new opportunities or taking you down a new career path altogether.
With 2017 right around the corner, many “career change” New Year’s resolutions will be made. If you are seeking new opportunities or testing the job market, make sure your resume isn’t missing any of these components.
1. Flowing story.
Your resume tells your story, so make sure it is easily understood and has a great flow to it. Hiring managers have hundreds and sometimes several thousand resumes to scan, so if they are confused at any point while reading yours, it will quickly end up in the trash.
Your story should be very clear. The person reading your resume should be able to quickly understand who you are, what you currently do, what you have done in the past, when and where you have done it and how good you were at doing it.
If you need guidance, consider using a free resume builder to help tell your story using a pre-made template.
2. Strong top-third.
The top third of your resume needs to quickly grab the attention of its reader enough that you get placed in the “review for consideration” pile. It’s important that you sell yourself strongly in the beginning, as nobody is going to read every word of your resume on the first round.
The average resume receives only six seconds of review time, so take that into consideration when you are putting it together. Determine how much of your resume can be read in six seconds, and make sure you are building a strong argument for yourself in that small window of time.
3. Formatted for easy reading and skimming.
Your resume will receive more attention if it’s broken down into bite size bullets and sections, rather than long drawn-out paragraphs of information. If you have a lot to say, that’s fine, just break it up into an easy to digest format.
Nobody wants to sit there and read massive blocks of text. Highlight your key points through creative formatting that allows a reader to skim through it and still retain the important parts. Nobody has time to read a resume top to bottom -- use formatting to your advantage -- selling yourself without writing a novel.
4. Use descriptive keywords especially in the beginning.
Regardless if an actual human or software is reading your resume, the right keywords will make yours stand out. Many human resource departments use an applicant tracking system, or ATS, which allows them to filter applications based on keywords, skills, former employers, length of experience and education. Using descriptive keywords in the beginning of your resume will help you get the attention of this software, or catch the eye of a human, if the company has someone manually scanning applicants.
5. Be specific when describing your success.
Saying you were “good” at something isn’t enough -- you need to be specific. Why were you good at something? What did you specifically accomplish? Include measurable success to back up your claim of being good.
What is going to draw more attention?
- Increased sales and production while managing a large sales team.
- Increased sales by 218 percent while managing a team of 32 in-house sales representatives.
“Providing specific examples to what you have accomplished makes your resume much stronger and adds the supporting evidence that employers want to see," advises Hannon Legal Group founder, James Hannon. Don't be afraid to include impressive accomplishments -- these are your selling points, so don't think of this as boasting and bragging.