I have been able to work with thousands of clients across a number of industries, and I have compiled some great tips that will help you when creating a winning resume.
That said sometimes writing a great resume can be a daunting task especially that resume for first job.
1. Understanding the purpose
Contrary to what you have read, the goal of a resume is not to inventory the task you perform in your previous or current roles. The number one tip I give when it comes to resume is that no one cares about the tasks you do on your job, and there is no need to waste the real estate on your resume explaining tasks that can be assumed.
Let’s say you are a corporate accountant, I am going to assume you are involved in the monthly closes. You don’t have to put this in your resume. What should be on the resume are your quantifiable achievements. Doing this will allow you to stand out from the rest of the candidates applying.
2. Understanding the audience
For you to write anything effective, you will need to have a good understanding of the people you are targeting. You can show them you understand them by conveying what they find to be valuable. You should create a resume that is going to appeal to them by showing them value, and not presenting them with a resume full of “responsible for” statements.
3. Focusing on accomplishment
In the different jobs you have done, what is that thing that has set you apart? This will have the most impact of all these tops: asking yourself this question will go a long way in helping you get to the heart of some of your accomplishments.
- How were you able to do the job better than anyone else?
- What special things did you do in order to impress your job so you could get a promotion?
- What was it that you did to make it your own?
- What are some of the challenges or problems that you and your organization face?
- What are the steps you took to overcome the challenges?
- What results were you able to get after taking those steps?
- How did your performance benefit the organization?
- Did you end up leaving the employer in a better place than when you joined?
4. Optimizing with keywords
There are many employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to handle the resumes submitted to them, which is commonly referred to as The Resume Black Hole by jobseekers.
This system stores candidate data so that the applications can be easily searched, filtered, and routed. They rely mainly on keywords searches, and there is no human interaction in this process. An important tip that applies to this situation is by personalizing the resume for relevant keywords every time they are applying for a given role.
5. Formatting matters
Your resume needs to have an easy-to-read font, a simple layout and design, and plenty of white space. It is okay to have graphic elements that add interest, and some examples are boxes, rule lines, and shaded areas. If you use custom fonts, fancy graphics, and photos, your resume becomes difficult to read and the ATS system is going to reject it. You should also stay away from recognizable Microsoft Word resume templates because most employers have seen them many times.
Do proper proofreading, never rely on the grammar function of Microsoft Word or spellchecker. Ho through the resume carefully and see if there are any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. It is also good because you can make sure your resume has a logical flow. Once you have finished proofreading, ask someone to do it again. People tend to overlook errors in their own work.
6. Customizing your resume to the job ad.
This is something many job seekers fail to do when creating their resume. You should customize your resume for each application you make. Many people usually forget that most employees are going to take a few seconds to review the resume.
When an employer takes such a short time to go through the resume, he/she should be able to get a grasp of what you want to do and what you can add to the organization. This is why your resume should focus on key strengths that will position you to meet the need and target of the employers/job.
7. Communicating your brand
The branding you express in the resume will help in capturing your career identity, passion, authenticity, image, and essence, and also the promise of value you are going to come with. If you want a branded resume, consider integrating a distinctive appearance, and have a consistent branding message throughout the resume, and it should be supporting the message you want to convey while defining who you are, why you should be chosen, and the value you are going to bring.
8. Avoiding looking out-of-touch
Resumes today focus on the achievement a person has made and the value they are going to bring. This is why you should not have an objective statement (can you be able to sum up your entire career in a short statement?), a snail mail address (there is almost zero chance that the employer is going to sit down and write a letter), or having the statement “reference available on request”. These are some of those outdated things that won’t add any value. If you want to get noticed, make sure you have written your resume right. LinkedIn, the right social media presence and a blog are all positives and make you look in touch.
9. Using reverse-chronological format
Many people don’t give resume format enough attention. The best choice when it comes to resume formats is the reverse-chronological format. This is where you list your work history at the beginning starting with the current then going backward.
You should avoid going back to more than 15 years on your resume. You can just not previous positions but you don’t have to expound on them. You should avoid using the “functional resume” format at all costs. Many of the recruiters will hate the format, because it is harder to follow, and it can make it seem like you are trying to hide your employment gap.
10. Conveying your passion, distinctiveness, and unique understanding of the business environment
What is it that makes you a better candidate over the others? Being unique is related closely to focus and branding. If you are able to convey a sharp focus, then the person reading the resume will be able to visualize you in that position instantly.
If you have a branded resume, it will send a message that you are of value. When you are unique, you portray yourself no only as the person for that given position, but also that you are the most logical option to go with.
Let’s say you are an accountant, one assumption the person reading the resume is going to make is that you were involved in the monthly closes. You don’t have to include that in the resume. The best way you can stand out from all the other options out there is by having your achievements there.
11. Start with a Professional Summary
On the first section of the resume, have it highlight the most valuable skills, and you will do this by having a professional summary. The language you use for this part is action-oriented, and also strong because it will communicate value.
12. Highlighting relevant skills up front
If you have computer skills and they are relevant to the field you are applying, then list them in the profile section or summary at the top of your resume. This is done so as to catch the attention of the person reading within the first third of the resume. If business skills or language is important, then make sure you have them at the top and not the end of the resume.
13. Get rid of clutter and aim for clarity
Parentheses, articles, and unnecessary dates don’t help the resume in any way. Remove them from your resume.