Resume Tips to Help You Get Hired
Whether it’s your first resume or your 50th, writing a resume may seem like a straightforward task. Simply list off every place you’ve ever worked and describe what you did in the role. Done!
While you could go that route, that may not be the best way to approach it. Resume writing is a bit nuanced and requires more than a list of all of your previous roles and tasks.
There are many often overlooked resume tips that, when deployed wisely, can bring your resume to the next level, shaving time off your job search and connecting you with a new role you’re excited about.
Master the ATS
These days, many employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to manage applications and interviews. These automated systems help employers quickly sort applications into a “yes” and “no” pile based strictly on your resume.
Optimizing your resume to make it past the ATS and into the hands of a human recruiter is one of the most essential resume tips. Though there are many ways to satisfy the ATS, the top two ways are to customize your resume and use keywords.
A Custom Job
Customizing your resume (and cover letter!) is time-consuming. However, creating a resume that targets the specific role you’re applying for is an essential resume tip.
A custom resume makes it easier for the employer to picture you in the role. Instead of reading over a general resume that almost anyone could have written, your customized resume helps demonstrate why you and your skills are perfect for the role.
For example, if you know you’re searching specifically for a remote job, you’ll want to write a resume that highlights all of your remote-relevant skills. So, you might focus your resume writing on your communication and collaboration skills to help the employer understand why you’re the right fit for this remote role.
Keywords Help You Fit
Keywords are probably very familiar to you. Anytime you search for anything on the internet, the word or words you type into the search box are keywords. They are the “key” words you’re searching for!
The best way to customize your resume and make it past the ATS is to use keywords in your resume. To figure out which keywords to use, look at the job posting.
Review the posting and make a list of the words or phrases you see several times throughout the document. The words that relate specifically to the role are keywords, and you should include those keywords in your resume and cover letter.
Not only do keywords help you get past an ATS, but they also show that you and the employer speak the same language. This can also help demonstrate to the company that you’re a good cultural fit, which can improve your odds of getting the job.
Play the Short Game
As tempting as it might be to include every job you’ve ever had (including that one summer you spent scooping ice cream) and every volunteer experience you’ve completed, that may not always be the wisest choice.
As a rule, a resume shouldn’t be any longer than two pages. Depending on your skills and experiences, you can consider going to three pages, but that may not be necessary. Often only the last 10 to 15 years are essential for your resume as employers are generally only interested in your most recent work experience.
If you’re worried about leaving off some of your work history, you can sum it up in one or two sentences on your cover letter. Or, use part of your interview to delve deep into your ice cream scooping skills.
“Old School” Resume Tips
It wasn’t all that long ago that the most common of resume tips for job seekers included having an “objective” on their resume. An objective was a brief sentence about your career goals. Of course, when you’re looking for a job, your objective is pretty clear. So, instead of taking up valuable real estate on your resume with an objective, use that section to highlight your skills and qualifications for the role.
At the top of your resume (under your contact information), include a section that highlights your top five skills. Try to include a mix of hard skills—technical skills that are usually related to the job—and soft skills, which are less tangible skills but still very important (like communication or problem-solving skills).
Another one of the outdated resume tips is to include “References Available Upon Request” at the bottom of your resume. That is no longer the expectation as employers will assume you have professional references ready to go, so skip this line and include another skill instead!
Add Some Action
Instead of merely creating a list of tasks, add a little pizazz and excitement to your resume with action verbs.
Action verbs go a long way toward helping an employer visualize you in the role. These verbs can help employers connect the dots between your skills and your accomplishments. While there are plenty of action verbs you can use on your resume, here are a few top ones to consider:
Formatting a Resume
Knowing what to put on your resume is only half the battle. The other half includes formatting it properly. This doesn’t mean there’s only one right way to format a resume, though. “Properly” means creating a document that’s easy for both ATSs and humans to read.
In brief, there are three types of resume formats:
- Reverse chronological: Starting with your most recent (or current) job, list your work history in reverse order, detailing your experience and accomplishments under each job.
- Functional: Your experience and skills are grouped by type (communication, coding, collaboration, for example) instead of by the job.
- Hybrid: Part chronological and part functional, this resume blends the best of a chronological and a functional resume.
Though a chronological resume is usually a safe bet, it’s not always the best resume for your situation. Weigh the pros and cons of each resume format before you commit to one over the other. And, depending on your situation and the role, you may want to use one resume format over another for each application.
Skip Fancy Fonts
Another critical resume tip to consider is which resume fonts to use. While you probably know not to use a “fancy” font on your resume, you may not have considered the impact the “less fancy” fonts may have on your resume.
There are two major categories of fonts: serif and sans-serif. Serif fonts have “feet” that come off the end of their letters. Times New Roman is a good example. Sans-serif fonts are “footless,” like the Arial font.
When choosing a resume font, you’re better off selecting a sans-serif font for two reasons. First, most human recruiters read resumes electronically, and sans-serif fonts tend to be easier on the eyes when read on screen. Secondly, ATSs have a harder time reading serif fonts, so going with a sans-serif font improves your chances of landing in the yes pile.
Because your resume should stay around two pages long, the fact is you may not have enough room to include everything you want a recruiter to know. When that happens, point them to the internet.
Whether you have a dedicated digital portfolio or a LinkedIn profile, storing additional information about yourself online can help further demonstrate that you’re the right person for the role through real-world examples of your skills and abilities.
Shine Like a Star
As you get into the nitty-gritty of writing your resume, don’t default to listing off all of the “tasks” you completed in the role. Saying something like “responsible for creating marketing plans for clients” may sum up your role, but it isn’t very dynamic and doesn’t fully explain your accomplishments.
Use the STAR method to help you paint a compelling portrait of what you’re capable of. STAR stands for situation, task, action, result. You explain to the employer a situation you faced, the task that needed to be accomplished, the action you took, and the result you achieved.
So, instead of saying “created marketing plans,” go a little more in-depth to help the employer understand what you’re able to do and how that can benefit them.
Created data-driven marketing plans for clients to drive organic traffic to the website; increased conversion rate by 70%.
By explaining not only what you did, but how you did it and what the benefit for the client or company was, you’re helping the employer understand what kind of value you will bring to the role.
What’s in a Name?
This might sound like another one of the “out there” resume tips, but it’s really not. Make sure you name your resume file the right way. If you don’t, you risk your resume ending up lost in a recruiter’s inbox.
First, look at the job posting. The employer may have a specific format (.pdf, for example) and naming convention (the role, your last name, first name) they want you to use. Make sure you follow it!
But, if there is nothing specified in the job posting, make sure you include your name as part of the file name. This will make it easier for the recruiter to find your resume when they inevitably have to search their inbox for your application.
While you will give your resume a thorough proofread, after you’ve looked over it for the millionth time, you’re bound to miss something. So, give your resume to someone you trust for a once over with a fresh set of eyes.
Alternatively, change the font type (including the “fancy” ones) while you proofread. This font change can help trick your brain into thinking it’s a new document, making it less likely you’ll accidentally gloss over typos. Or, try reading your resume backward (starting at the bottom and going from right to left). This forces your brain to slow down and makes it easier to find mistakes.
Get Personalized Resume Tips From a Career Coach
Our final resume tip is to consider talking to a pro. Resume writers and career coaches have tons of experience in this area and understand the ins and outs of creating the right resume for you.
Consider meeting with one of our expert career coaches. They can help you identify the unique skills you’ll bring to the role and help you figure out the best way to highlight everything on your resume.
By Rachel Pelta | November 20, 2020 | Categories: Work Remotely