When you’re looking for a job and writing a resume to help you land that dream position, you should not just be asking “How do I write a resume?” You should be asking “How do I write a great resume?” Or, “How do I write a resume that stands out—and stands out for the right reasons?” To get an interview, and to get a job offer, you need to get the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter.
As a hiring manager, I review thousands of resumes a month. There are certain things I look for in a resume that make me pay closer attention, and encourage me to learn more about an applicant’s experience rather than just set it aside and move on to the next one. If you’re struggling with getting a callback, you should consider incorporating some of these elements when you’re writing your resume. These seven secrets of an effective resume that I share below will help you write an effective resume and get your resume to the top of the stack every time.
1. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords. Just like location, location, location in real estate, keywords and key phrases are the base for any great resume and they are how you can create a resume that will get you noticed. This is especially important for an online resume. To use keywords to create your effective resume, start by picking job-specific keywords that are relevant to your prior work experience, achievements, and career goals. When a hiring manager or recruiter does a search in their candidate database or on a job board, the keywords they search for need to be in your resume. Personality descriptors and vague soft skills are not what a recruiter or potential employer searches by. Examples of these words that you should leave out are: effective communicator, self-motivated, amiable. Better keywords to use when writing your resume are technical skills and actual position titles like: cost accountant, contract negotiation, and profit and loss management.
2. Tailor your resume to the position you are trying to pursue. On the work history section of your resume don’t list all your duties at your previous job. This is a common resume mistake—too many job seekers create a resume that tries to impress an employer by saying “look at all the responsibilities I had!” They don’t care about the ones that won’t help them. Instead, for an effective resume, list the duties from your work experience that are MOST APPLICABLE to the position you are trying to obtain. These are your actual qualifications for the position, and this is what an employer cares about. Even better is to choose accomplishments and contributions that are related and list those as well. Which brings me to my next point.
3. List accomplishments and contributions, not just duties. Employers want to see what you can do for them, what value-added service or skill set you are going to bring to the table. When I review a resume, I want to know what you actually accomplished at your last job and how that translates into what my company needs. Pick accomplishments that are specific to the job you are trying to get. To help you write a resume that specifically addresses a company’s needs, look beyond the job description to the company’s website or LinkedIn page to learn more about their culture, goals, and mission. An effective resume is as much about the company you are trying to impress as it is about you.
4. Market your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Resume writing is marketing. I always tell my clients the first one-third of their resume is the most important. If the top third of the page catches my eye, then I will take the time to read the rest. You can make your resume stand out by creating a powerful career summary at the top and then adding a core strengths section right underneath.
5. Create a powerful introductory summary statement. Your introductory statement needs to be related to the position you want to obtain, sell your best attributes, and be POWERFUL. When I read an introductory statement I’m looking for that WOW factor. I want it to grab my attention, tell me you’re the best candidate for my position, and make me want to read the rest of your resume. Don’t make it just a resume objective statement—in case I haven’t been clear enough already, you need to address what the employer wants and needs, not just what you want from them.
6. Highlight your strengths in a core knowledge section. This is a great place for keywords. Use industry-specific keywords in this section. If you put your keywords here and disperse them throughout the resume, your chances of getting through an applicant tracking system—or being first to show in a potential employer’s search on a job board—dramatically increases.
7. Create an eye-catching resume. With the tools available in even basic programs like Microsoft Word, there’s no reason for you to not have a modern resume that is visually appealing. Formatting matters, and you need to design your resume layout to be reader-friendly and attention-grabbing. Pick an easy-to-read font, and use plenty of white space. Don’t try to cram everything into a one-page resume. A two-page resume is perfectly appropriate, and expected even, especially if it is an executive resume. If hiring managers open your resume and it is a crowded, jumbled mess they are not going to spend more of their time searching through it to find the information they need. A messy resume will likely be the end of my interest in hiring you. However, if your resume format, style, and layout are attractive and easy to read I will be more inclined to read through the rest of the document and learn about your work experience, achievements, and skill set.
To see examples of how the Great Resumes Fast team of professional resume writers incorporates these resume writing tips into our work, take a look at our website’s resume sample page. Here, we have sample resumes from a variety of industries. You can also find hundreds more good resume writing tips to help you write your resume, as well as general career advice, on our blog.
The team of professional resume writers at the Great Resumes Fast resume writing service has worked with hundreds of job seekers over the years, helping them achieve their career goals with professional resumes and other career documents. If you’d like to work with a professional resume writer on your resume and cover letter, or even your LinkedIn profile, and jump-start your job search, get in touch with us today.
Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never break through the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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