Give Us Feedback and we’ll make improvements based on your comments!
We know how hard the job market is right now. There are hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people applying for the same job, and most of them are actually qualified for the job. So how do you stand apart from the crowd and get yourself an interview?
How do you create a resume that will get you noticed and show your skills, experience, and (more importantly) your ability to succeed? How do you make it in the door for an in-person interview? That’s the million-dollar question, and it all starts with drafting an awesome resume.
We’ve scoured the writings of resume experts and have compiled a list of 10 tips to help you write an awesome resume. These tips range from word usage to customization, but if you use them you’ll have a much better chance of getting that interview.
We have some examples of good and bad sentences after the tips, so be sure to read all the way through.
10 resume writing tips
- The purpose of a resume is to generate interestThink of your resume like a marketing tool. It’s not an autobiography or a place to highlight all of your achievements and toot your own horn. It’s the place to get the individual reading the resume to say, “hmm. This is interesting. Let’s get this person in here for an interview”.If you shift your thinking from you-centric to a marketing perspective, where your focus is on what the company or job wants and needs, you’ll be able to re-write your resume to be much more effective.
- Cookie-cutter resumes are deadYou can’t use the same resume for every single job you apply for. You have to tailor your resume to each company that you apply to (and your cover letter, as well). Remember, your resume isn’t about you, it’s about how you fit the needs of the company.You’ve probably heard the statistic that the average recruiter spends about 6 seconds reviewing resumes, and while that may not always be the case, the point is that you don’t have long to generate interest. You have to work quickly, and a resume that’s clearly generic and cookie-cutter is going to be passed over quickly.
- Use verbs (action words)You need to clearly communicate what you did using verbs (or action words).Passive voice is the worst. “Teams were managed”, “profits were increased”, etc. Instead, be direct, use active voice, like, “I managed a team…”, and “I increased profits…”
- Quantify as often as you canIt’s really not enough to say, “I increased company profit”. That could mean you increased it by a dollar or a million dollars. One is much more impressive than the other. You need to use solid, verifiable numbers any chance you can.So, instead of, “I increased company profit”, say, “I increased company profit by $200,000 in Q3.” That’s much clearer, and is verifiable.
- Don’t lie, or exaggerate details (but don’t undersell, either)It’s a very, very good idea to take your experiences, successes, and learning and tweak it to fit a new position or a career change or a new role in a new company. However, it’s never a good idea to lie about what you can and can’t do.We know some of our readers will ask, so here’s the why. For one, it’s not fair to the company you’re applying at. And two, it’s not fair to you. You wouldn’t want to find yourself in a position where you’re unable to do that job you said you could do, and your integrity is compromised because of it.
While we do get inspired by the Richard Branson quote, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later”, we don’t suggest outright lying about your skills, experience, or ability to tackle something new.
- Get rid of the “summary” and “objectives” sectionRemember, your resume is not about you. So get rid of the summary and objectives sections. They’re taking up valuable space that you should be using to talk about solving needs for the company, and illustrating how you solve the company’s problems.
- Use formatting to make a scannable documentUtilize headings, different font sizes, layouts (like columns and boxes), and emphasis to make your resume scannable. Giant blocks of text are not going to be read. You need to break up the information, and separate the critical information from the non-critical.You can use resume designers or templates to help you with this if you’re not a designer yourself. The layout and design you choose will depend on the industry you’re going into, and the job you’re applying for. Folks in creative industries have a little more leeway with design than others.
TheLadders found that a clear, organized resume format that places relevant information where recruiters expect it to be improved the favorability rating of the resume (by the recruiter) by 60% (source).
- Have someone proofread your resumeThis can be someone you know who is really good at catching errors, or you can pay a professional proofreader to do this for you, but you need to make sure it happens. CareerBuilder found that 61% of recruiters will immediately dismiss a resume if it contains typos.
CareerBuilder found that 61% of recruiters will immediately dismiss a resume if it contains typos. Click To Tweet
Don’t take a chance with your job hunt. Make sure you invest the time and/or money into making sure your resume is typo-free. And, sorry, Microsoft Word just doesn’t do a good enough job at this.
A good free tool to use is Grammarly, but it’s always a good idea to have a human look things over for you before you submit the resume.
- Keep your resume up to dateIt’s never fun to find yourself scrambling to update your resume before you apply for a job. So just set aside some time every month to update it as necessary.Another good idea is to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date as well. This is a lot easier to do, and in many cases, can function pretty well as a resume on its own.
You should also make sure that your resume and your social profiles are aligned. For example, your resume shouldn’t highlight that you’re a technical writer if your LinkedIn profile says that you’re a graphic designer.
- Use the first-personIt used to be acceptable to write resumes in the third person (i.e. Morgan is a fantastic copywriter). However, there’s been a shift to writing in the first-person, because everyone knows you’re writing your own resume. In fact, it’s best to avoid using even first-person pronouns (I, me) because your resume should be as concise and to-the-point as possible.
Examples of good and bad lines from resumes
Morgan is a great writer. She increased page views. Her articles were turned in on time and were well-written. She worked with big client’s like Adidas.
This example is written in the third-person with pronouns. It doesn’t quantify anything, and has typos. It’s vague and unimpressive, and would quickly be passed up by recruiters.
Researched and wrote blog articles for Adidas. Increased page views on client website by 1,000%. Contributed 25 articles over a 4-month period.
Notice that this example is written in the first-person but avoids pronouns. It is quantified where relevant and verifiable, and uses strong action words. It skips unnecessary words and phrases.
Bonus: A list of 5 Great Resume Writing Resources (in particular order)
- CareerBuilder – careerbuilder.com
- Career Resource Institute – Career Resource Institute Search – Resume Writers
- Resume Buffalo – resumebuffalo.com
- The Muse – www.themuse.com
- TheLadders – www.theladders.com
Writing a resume can be difficult. It’s often confusing trying to figure out how to communicate your skills, background, and education to a recruiter in a short amount of time. That’s why it’s important to make valuable use of the time you have and the space available to you on the resume.
These 10 resume writing tips will help you approach your resume writing from an informed perspective. You just need to remember that you’re marketing yourself to a company, so your resume should be tailored to them and their needs. It can be a difficult balancing act, but if you do it well you’ll be much more likely to get an interview.
Do you have any other tips you would add to help other folks write their resumes? We’d love to hear them in the comments.
And since you’re on the job hunt, we recommend you read 6 Awesome Job Search Platforms. It’s an article we published that can help you land the job of your dreams.
I’m Morgan, and I’m the copywriter you’ve been looking for. I take your goals and brilliant ideas and turn them into killer copy for websites, landing pages, sales funnels, emails, blogs/articles, and print materials. I live in the Northwest and enjoy 90’s alternative music, Gilmore Girls, Harry Potter, and drinking too much coffee. Learn more about me and the services I provide by visiting my website.