Everything You Need to Know About Writing the Perfect Resume
If there’s one area worth investing in when it comes to the job search, it’s definitely your resume -- after all, in just about seven seconds of glancing at it, recruiters and hiring managers already know whether or not they want to move forward with your application. Of course, writing a great resume is easier said than done; that's why we’re here to help you every step of the way.
1. Choose the right type of resume.
If you thought there was just one type of resume, think again. There are multiple kinds, and the one you should use will depend on your own unique career circumstances. A chronological resume lists your different positions top to bottom from most to least recent, and is best for those whose careers reflect a clear path to the role they’re applying for. A functional resume emphasizes relevance over recency, with different positions listed top to bottom from most to least relevant, a skills section and a professional summary explaining why you’re a great fit. This is a great option for those who are transitioning into a new field or re-entering the workforce after a resume gap. A combination resume borrows from both formats by combining the professional summary and skills section of a functional resume and the chronological work experience order of a chronological resume. This is a good way to emphasize skills and experience equally, and is a great choice for many different types of job seekers.
2. Know what you need to include.
Resumes tend to have six major components: a header and contact info, professional summary, skills section, work experience, education and additional experience. Here’s a brief rundown of what they are, and tips for how to make the most of them:
- Header and contact info: The top of your resume (or whichever is the most prominent part) containing your name and contact info.
- Pro tip: Think twice before including your street address. It’s largely unnecessary nowadays, and can hurt your chances of scoring an interview if you live far from where the position is.
- Professional summary: A brief, one- to three-sentence description that encapsulates who you are, what you do and why you’re a great fit for the job at hand.
- Pro tip: Avoid descriptors like “hardworking,” “self-motivated,” etc. -- those terms are vague and generic. Focus instead on the skills and accomplishments that set you apart.
- Skills: A list of the key skills you possess that will help you do the job you’re applying for.
- Pro tip: Can’t decide what skills to include? Look to the job description to see which skills matter the most.
- Work experience: A list of the different titles you’ve held, places you’ve worked and achievements you accomplished.
- Pro tip: When writing out your bullet points, use the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to describe not just what you did in a previous job but what sort of impact it had.
- Education: Details on the level of education you’ve attained, where you went and what you studied.
- Pro tip: Only include your GPA if you’ve graduated in the last couple of years and earned a 3.0 or higher -- the further along you are in your career, the more recruiters and hiring managers pay attention to experience over education.
Related: How to Be Authentic in an Interview
- Additional experience: A catch-all section where you can add your volunteer experience, hobbies, awards, etc.
- Pro tip: Some companies are particularly passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community. If you’re applying to one of them, use this section to describe how you’ve made a difference -- it’s a great way to show culture fit!
3. Don’t forget design and formatting.
At the end of the day, a well-written resume with relevant experience will win out over one that’s pretty but light on content. However, if you combine great content with a neat, clean design and proper formatting, you’ve just hit upon a winning combination. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want your resume to look its best:
- Use an easy-to-read font of no less than 11 pt.
- Add margins of at least .7 inches.
- Make sure there’s sufficient white space between sections.
- Keep your resume to 1-2 pages max, unless you’re in a field like academia or medicine and must cite papers and publications.
- Don’t go overboard with intricate design or decoration -- touches of color are fine, but avoid any clashing or visually busy details.
4. Check for these last-minute items.
Once you’re feeling good about your resume, don’t click submit just yet. Uploading your resume before giving it a thorough scan can result in errors and missed opportunities to make the best impression. Check off the following items to make sure your resume is ready to be seen by the world:
- Verify your employment information to make sure that it matches what you have on LinkedIn. Any discrepancies, even if they’re accidental, might raise red flags for a recruiter.
- Use a platform like Grammarly to edit your resume. Grammarly can save you from misspellings, hundreds of types of grammatical and punctuation mistakes and words that are spelled right but used in the wrong context, all of which look unprofessional on a resume and can seriously hurt your chances of making it to the next round.
- Save your resume with a simple file name to maintain professionalism and to simply keep better track of it in your files. You can’t go wrong with “Lastname-Resume-2018.”
- Double check capitalization of company names and titles -- consistency in your resume is key.
- Review your bullet points to make sure they’re focused on showing results, not simply listing your tasks.
(By Emily Moore)