I’m not going to waste your time with a lot of preamble – that’s not why you’re here. If you’re on the internet looking for resume tips, you’re likely about to send in an application for a job and you’re looking for quick ways to impress the hiring manager.
Boom. Done. Here you go!
- Name, email and phone number: These are the only 3 things required at the top of your resume. Skip the address – if they need it, they’ll ask for it. Sidenote: Please, please, please have a professional email address!
- Ditch the objective/summary statement: This is an old holdover, and instantly makes your resume look dated. Any information you would include in these statements would be better covered in your cover letter and is space better used on your resume for something else.
- Utilize bullet points: Recruiters and hiring managers have 7-9 seconds to spend quickly glancing at your resume, so they’re not going to be able to adequately read a paragraph about your work experience. Instead, break it up into bullet points and make it succinct; highlighting measurable accomplishments.
- Bold, italicize and underline: Due to the aforementioned small span of time your resume is getting actual eyeballs on it, make it easier to differentiate items like company name, job title, and dates with a mix of formatting. The most emphasis should be placed on your job title, so making it bold (for example) draws the eye to it. It’s up to you what kind of formatting looks the best, so try out different styles to see what you like.
Example: Lead Graphic Designer, Fauxname Inc., June 2010-present
- Keywords: More often than not, your application is going into what’s called an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS. Often an ATS will assist the hiring team in collecting the resumes that best match the job description based on keywords. Before submitting your resume, you’ll want to make sure you’ve compared the job description to your resume – if the job description calls for a certain software, and you’re well-versed in that software, be sure to list it in your Skills section, etc.
- Education: Your education section can be tricky, but a good thing to remember is that the longer you’ve been out of school, the smaller this section should be. If you’re still earning a degree, feel free to list accomplishments like leadership, Dean’s List, etc. (not GPA unless the application/your industry specifically calls for it), but once you’ve graduated all that’s really necessary to list is your school, degree, and year graduated.
- Skills: Utilize bullets points again in your skills section, and try to focus on hard skills over soft skills. Hard skills are measurable or testable, whereas soft skills are sometimes nebulous and unprovable. For example, hard skills can include software programs, account management, dealing with budgets, machinery operation – soft skills can include being a people person, a hard worker, punctual, and interpersonal communication.
- One Page!: If you have under 10-15 years of experience, it’s best to keep your resume to one page. This is HARD. You’re trying to show employers everything you’re capable of, but you also want to ensure they’re actually reading your resume…and unfortunately, 2+ pagers just aren’t looked at as closely (unless it’s for senior level positions). Tailor your resume to the position you’re applying to, fudge the margins a bit, and hopefully, you’re able to get it down to one page. I still have trouble with this, so don’t feel like you’re alone in this struggle.
- Get a fresh set of eyes: Before sending in your resume, have someone you trust give it a quick glance. Ask them what the first thing they saw was (if it’s not what you want them to see, consider changing your formatting around), have them check for typos, and see if they can tell you in their own words what your most recent job entails (this is a good way to see if your experience section is clear, and representing you accurately).
- Save both a Word doc AND PDF: If your application is being submitted on a website, I’d recommend using a Word document for your resume. Many ATS have trouble parsing a PDF, and submitting a Word doc ensures your information is getting into the system correctly and you’re not making someone else’s life harder by having to manually copy and paste your info. If you’re submitting your application via email, send a PDF. Your formatting won’t get messed up on someone else’s computer, and it will just look cleaner and more professional. Sidenote: Save it as Firstname Lastname OR Lastname, Firstname OR Firstname Lastname_Position Title.
There are so many more ways to make your resume stand out, but these are simple, industry standard tips that will hopefully get your resume looking better in just a few minutes.
If you’re looking for great examples, or feel tripped up on how to word certain parts, I highly suggest taking a deep-dive into askamanager.org. I was an avid reader of Allison’s site long before I ever got a job in talent acquisition, and she continues to be the best resource out there for resumes/cover letters/interviews/office etiquette/you name it.
Let me know in the comments if any of my advice helped you spruce up your resume, or if you have other questions! Or if you feel like arguing about any of the above 10 tips, I’m always open to opinions.