No matter your skills, accomplishments, or experience, you are likely to get screened out by HR if your resume is not good enough. Regardless of whether you are starting out in your career or are already an experienced professional, it is well worth your time to make improvements to your resume and make a stunning first impression on potential employers.
Recruiters only spend an average of 6 seconds looking through a resume before deciding whether they should move forward or not. By reading and following the resume tips in this guide, you will be better able to stand out in these crucial few seconds and improve your chances of securing an interview call. So without further ado, here we present you with 19 tips and tricks for writing a killer resume.
1. Be Strategic About Adding Your Address
Only consider adding your home address in your resume if it works in your favor. If the company you are aiming for is close to your area, then it may be advantageous to let them know that you live nearby.
However, if you are targeting a job that is far away, in another town or state, it would be unwise to include the address in this scenario. Recruiters are far less receptive to spending their time and energy on out-of-town candidates as they see it as a greater risk.
2. Be Careful With Your Email Address
firstname.lastname@example.org vs. email@example.com – which of these two look more mature and professional?
Remember the 6-second rule; among the first things a hiring manager will glance at is your contact details and if you have listed an unprofessional email, you are likely to have your resume instantly thrown into the shredder. Real-world stats back this claim. Nearly 76% of resumes are rejected for an unprofessional email!
Continuing to include the same email on your resume that you created way back in high school will only undermine your job prospects. Spend some minutes of your free time and create a dedicated work email.
3. Grammar Mistakes are Costly
This is one of the most important tips for resume building. According to Career Builder, about 61% of recruiters will automatically dismiss a resume because it contains typos. Once your resume is finished, run it through free grammar checking tools that you can easily find online.
In addition, have your resume read by another human being. They may be able to spot mistakes that you unintentionally missed out on.
4. Don’t Be Embarrassed to Drop Names
While name dropping in social situations is something to frown upon, it is definitely a must while creating your resume. If you worked with a big client, say a notable corporation or a celebrity, don’t be shy to mention their names in your work history. Even bold the names if you must – anything to get the HR fixated on your resume.
5. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
While the majority of employers do use keyword scanning software to screen out resumes, this isn’t the early 2000s. Today’s software are far smarter and can easily detect cheating on the part of the candidates. Adding a few keywords is still important but don’t abuse it.
6. List Only Your Professionally Linked Social Accounts
Recruiters want to know who you are as a professional, not what you ate last night or your rant about never shopping at Wal-Mart again. While linking social media accounts is increasingly becoming a norm, it is not a good idea to link your personal accounts. Not only will this look unprofessional but there is also the risk of the HR actually checking your account and finding something written that is extremely controversial.
Do consider adding your professional LinkedIn account as well as any social media accounts or blogs of personal brands you manage. They are sure to give a good impression on the recruiter.
7. List Work Experience starting From Newest to Oldest
This should be obvious but a lot of candidates end up listing their work experience on their resume in the wrong order. The HR person is likely to be most interested in your most recent work experience. This is what you should list first. Next, list the previous job you held and then the one before that and so on in reverse chronological order.
8. Keep Your Skill Section Short and Precise
Stuffing the resume with every skill you remotely have is NOT a good practice. Unfortunately, this is a mistake that a lot of young job seekers tend to make and ruin their hiring chances. Unless it is explicitly listed in the job description of the position you are applying at, there is no need for listing skills that many other people in the job market already have e.g. Microsoft Office, email.
In addition, unless you have real professional experience in a skill, it may be best to avoid listing it. For instance, just because you have lots of followers Instagram or run meme pages doesn’t mean you know social media. Corporate branding is a whole other ball game and involves a lot more than just posting engaging content. You need to know a thing or two about data analytics, paid marketing, and branding best practices.
Finally, strictly avoid adding joke-skills like ‘professional guacamole-maker’ or ‘Master cat whisperer’ etc. A few recruiters may find it funny but most will feel annoyed and throw your resume away in the shredder.
9. Consider Hobbies
Not all hobbies are worth mentioning on your resume but some you should surely put in especially if it means creating a positive impression. Such hobbies can include debating and public speaking (showcasing your skill as an effective communicator), running a marathon (showcasing strong will and determination) etc.
10. A Word About Words
Sure, you might be hardworking, ambitious, motivated, and a fast learner but so are many others in the job market. If you want to stand out of the crowd, avoid the use of generic and overused adjectives.
Furthermore, when it comes to verbs, avoid ones that look weak and boring. Instead of writing words like:
- Responsible for
- Looked after
Consider words like:
- Took charge of
Whenever necessary, avoid the use of jargon. Even if the company you are applying is in the same exact field as your current one, don’t assume the HR would have a hang of the industry’s jargon. Using jargon won’t make you look like an expert to the hiring manager but rather only end up confusing them.
The words you use are very important in forming the impression that you give. You’re not desperate to find work; you’re highly motivated.
11. Your Font Choices Matter
If you are finding your resume even remotely hard to read without zooming or squinting your eyes, chances are it won’t fare well with the HR professional you send it to either. Play it safe with the font size and set it to 10-12 points for easy reading.
In addition, you should strictly stick to font styles that are easy to read and look professional. Worked at Microsoft vs. Worked at Microsoft – both of these give very contrasting impressions about a person even though both the words written are the same. The former looks childish and unserious while the latter mature and committed.
12. Keep Subheadings Simple
Subheadings are important and help divide your resume into more easily digestible bites. However, be sure to keep them simple so that both the software scanning your details and the HR looking at it instantly know what to expect.
- About Me
- Work History
- Other Trades
13. Tailor Your Resume
Always remember to tailor your resume according to the job one is applying for. This is a highly vital resume tip. Many job seekers consider a one-size-fits-all approach and spam the same resume in all the positions that they apply for.
Competition in the job market these days is tough and with so many resumes being sent for few openings, HR can afford to be pickier about whom they consider. Before applying for a position, carefully read its job description and mine it for specific keywords. Then, tailor your resume accordingly to increase the chances of the hiring manager finding you relevant for the job.
14. Mind the White Space
Presentation is just as important as substance. If your resume looks aesthetically pleasing, clean, and skimmable, the HR is far more likely to continue reading it. One of the most important aspects to consider when enhancing the looks of your resume is white space.
Don’t compromise on adequate whitespace in a bid to stuff your resume with every bit of information you want to include. Ensure that there is proper spacing and the right margins to give your resume a sleek and sophisticated look.
15. Name the File Right
As mentioned numerous times already, the HR receives tons of resumes for every job position. It is, therefore, not always possible for them to keep track of every resume and it’s your job to make it easier for them. Don’t name your resume file simply as ‘resume’ – that’s the surest way to NOT make your resume stand out. Instead, add your name in the file’s name. e.g. Paul_Herman_Resume
16. Cut the Fluff
Ideally, your resume should be no more than 1-2 pages long. If your current resume is longer than this then it is high time to cut some of the fluff from it.
Keep no more than six relevant points for each job in your work experience. Also, there is no need of listing down jobs that you had more than a decade ago.
17. Have Gaps? Write Down Why!
If you have significant gaps in your work experience, it could leave a negative impression on your potential employer. That is unless you explicitly state why you had gaps. If you have a long gap in between jobs, write a short explanation of why you took it. This will reduce uncertainty and prevent the recruiters from assuming the worst.
18. Add and Quantify Achievements
In your work experience, be sure to highlight your achievements. This helps the HR understand that not only are you experienced at your job but are also proficient at driving results.
Be sure to also quantify results wherever possible to better emphasize your achievements. For instance, don’t write:
- Earned positive feedback from many clients
- Increase ROI by a large margin
- Improved average monthly revenue
- Maintained an average of 4.8/5 in client feedback
- Increased ROI by 17%
- Improved average monthly revenue by 20% compared to the previous quarter.
Numbers immediately draw the attention of recruiters and give them a better sense of the scale of your achievements.
19. Don’t Forget About Your Summary
Your resume summary is like your sales pitch. It is arguably the most important part of the entire resume as it helps HR determine whether they should spend time reading the rest of your resume or not. Keep it short and precise, usually between 2 to 3 lines no more. In those lines, add who you are, what you’re after, and how you add value to the company. Use third person instead of first-person.
Here is an example of a bad summary.
“I am a highly motivated marketing employee working in the content industry with years of experience. I am a graduate of XYZ University with a degree in Engineering. I want to switch career into data science.”
Clearly, it doesn’t sound very convincing. Below is an example of a good summary.
“Marketing specialist with 4+ years of experience in the content industry. Looking to switch careers into data science. Certified in Data Analytics from Google and in Inbound Methodology from Hubspot.”
Colorado is Hiring!
If you are a job seeker looking for work in Colorado, feel free drop your resume at our agency using this link and we’ll connect you with companies that will love to have you on-board. For any queries, call (833) 303-JOBS.