By Megan Koehler, Expert Resume Writer and Personal Branding Strategist
Are you writing your resume? Are you overwhelmed by the amount of information out there? Look no further for the top tips on creating a resume that will ‘WOW’ hiring managers and position you as the top candidate.
1) Start at the Top
Your name and contact information should be listed first; include a phone number, and email. Follow that with a specific and focused title geared towards the job you are applying to. Next you should incorporate a summary that highlights your value by showing potential employers what you can do for them. Keep your voicemail greeting professional and use an email address that consists of your name or some variation. It’s not a bad idea to set up an email account specifically for your job search. Don’t forget to include your LinkedIn profile address as well.
2) Incorporate Your Personal Brand
Your brand will set you apart from everyone else by capturing the qualities that are unique to you. A resume that showcases your personal brand will be a much more effective tool in your job search than a resume that simply states your qualifications. You can identify your brand by taking a look at your personality, your passions, your beliefs, how others perceive you, how you respond to different situations, your goals, and how all of this shapes the person that you are.
3) Focus, Focus, Focus
You want your resume to be as focused as possible on the position you are applying for. If all of your previous positions support the desired position then there’s no problem. But if your career history is all over the place you will need to extract the transferrable skills from each position in order to focus your resume. That means finding the skills you’ve performed in the past that are relevant to the new position and highlight those to show how you would apply them.
4) Customize Your Resume for Every Position
This doesn’t mean you have to completely overhaul your resume each time you send it out, but you should make small tweaks to align it with the specifics of the position. You should change your title, keywords, and experience as needed. If a position calls for a particular skill make sure you are highlighting your experience in that area.
5) It Has to Look Good
While the content of your resume is the most important element, the visual appeal of your resume is a close second. You don’t want your reader to have to search for the information they need; a well laid out resume makes reading it a lot easier. Choose a font and size that is easy to read and margins that leave enough white space. Don’t try and cram your resume onto one page if two pages would be more appropriate; but at the same time don’t submit an overly long resume with irrelevant or outdated information.
6) Highlight Your Achievements
Too often resumes consist of boring bullet points that do nothing more than state the tasks you’ve performed. If you want to stand out to potential employers you need to show your value by emphasizing what you achieved in your previous positions. Sure, as a customer sales rep you answered customer calls and solved problems; but so what! Your resume will be a lot stronger if you highlight the fact that you had the highest rate of answered calls with the shortest amount of customer wait time.
7) Choose Your Words Wisely
Stay away from overused words such as: responsible for, problem solver, detail oriented, organized, or hard working. You should incorporate action words into your resume. Words that show what you did will be a much more effective tool than the worn out words seen on every other resume. When you write about your past career experiences place the verb at the beginning of each statement. Try some fresh verbs like: revitalized, secured, redesigned, eliminated, or accelerated.
8) Don’t Be Afraid of Enhancements
Try using color on your resume. A little color on your resume can make a big impact. I’m not saying your entire resume should be printed in orange but simple uses of color can bring a whole new look to your resume. Consider using color for your name, section lines, or headings. Another way to enhance your resume is to make use of bold, underline, and italics. Those subtle enhancements can completely change the look of your resume and can draw attention to the most important parts of your resume.
9) Format Is Extremely Important
The most popular format is the chronological format which goes in order of most recent to earliest jobs. Job seekers like it because it’s easy, hiring managers like it because it’s predictable and they know where to look for things. The functional format is a format that has gotten a negative association attached to it. In this format you place the importance on your experiences and achievements and not the actual jobs that you held. For this reason, out of work jobseekers, job hoppers, and those with anything to hide would tend to gravitate to this format. Personally, I like this format; but because of its reputation I tend to lean more towards a chronological/functional hybrid. It showcases your value right away but also presents a clear picture of your career history.
10) Be Prepared
Usually a job presents itself and then we get down to writing a resume for that job. However, it should actually be reversed. Your resume should be ready to go whenever you need it so that when an opportunity arises you don’t have to waste time writing it. My recommendation is to create a master resume that includes every job you’ve held, every task you’ve performed, every class or training you attended, and every degree or certification you hold. Obviously you won’t include all of this on your resume but you will be able to cut and paste the relevant information when creating your resume. This will be a huge time saver and will help you remember the details of your previous positions.
by Megan Koehler