Your resume is your calling card. Often, it’s your one chance to catch the eye of someone who actually has the power to hire you. So even if you feel pretty sure you can sell yourself in an interview, it pays to check out some resume writing tips that can help give you the chance to be seen!
As someone who has helped hire many people (and screened many resumes), I can assure you that even really qualified people can have bad resumes. Ones that get them eliminated. Instead, your resume needs to help tell a “notice me” story — one that shows just how right you are for the new job and company.
The harsh truth about resumes
While a resume can be a powerful marketing tool, you need to make it work for you. But too many people simply list their experiences in chronological order and think they’re done. In effect, they expect the company to fill in the dots for them. Not smart. Painting a clear, engaging picture is YOUR job.
Unfortunately, the average resume gets looked at for about 7 or 8 seconds the first time. And if the first time doesn’t easily show a good fit, your resume probably never gets seen again. A sad story for both you and your resume.
But the good news is that you don’t need to leave it all up to luck — and a resume reader with extra time on their hands. You can greatly improve your chances simply by following a few resume writing tips.
Resume writing tips that can really help
- Your resume is about your future, not your past.
- Resumes are not a confessional; target what you include to show a picture that matches the job.
- Fill resume with achievement statements, not boring job description statements.
- Never include tasks you don’t want to repeat in your new job.
- Use the job description to help find keywords or phrases that can help a computer or screener find you.
- Unless you’re just starting out, rather than a job objective, create a strong summary section at the top.
- Use bullet points to highlight key accomplishments.
- A resume should be easy to read (don’t over-complicate) and help focus a reader’s eyes on your strengths.
- Make sure you and others proofread your resume; a simple typo can get you rejected.
- You can leave things out or give emphasis to things that help more, but don’t lie — no matter how tempting!
A few more thoughts
If you have the money to hire a good resume writer, that might be a good way to go. But first, check their samples. Compare them to other online samples. Too fancy or too hard to focus on key elements are both bad signs. Also, make sure you get the feeling they truly understand you and your needs.
Still, you can do a good job on your own resume. Just take the time and apply some solid resume writing tips. If your resume easily shows a person who is resourceful, gets things done, and matches the job, you improve your chances for that all-important longer resume review.
And if a cover letter is part of the package, a good one can help seal the deal. Maybe you know someone in the company. Or read something worth mentioning. Also, a few key accomplishment bullet points in your cover letter can help. Just keep it brief and easy to “connect the dots.”
⇒ EXTRA: What are Automated Resume Screeners?
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