Whether you’ve got a freshly printed diploma, one that’s collecting dust in a closet or you’ve strayed away from the path of formal education, having a strong résumé is a vital asset in today’s economy.
While it’s crucial that a résumé should highlight the specific talents and achievements of an individual, there are universal rules that, if followed, will increase your chances of landing an interview for your dream job.
A study performed by TheLadders in 2012 using “eye tracking” technology revealed that recruiters spend an average of only six seconds reviewing a résumé before determining if the candidate is a match.
While many job seekers possess the attributes and experience required for their ideal jobs, they are often overlooked because the most desired information is not effectively presented on the page.
Elite Daily has acquired a professionally written résumé from The Write Future, a professional résumé writing service that is tailored for Millennials and young professionals, to display the key components of a strong résumé.
1. Header with all necessary contact info.
The joke about people losing points on the SAT for misspelling their own names also applies to résumés. It’s surprising how many job seekers add wrong contact information or no information at all.
A proper header should include your name, one phone number, email address, home address, and, if available, the URL to your active LinkedIn page or professional online profile. Note: You will be “Googled” regardless.
2. Includes a professional title (if available).
It may be difficult to pinpoint what your exact career focus is; although, if you do know, be sure to include it as a professional title.
If you are a Human Resources Professional and are applying for an HR job, make it clear in nice, bold letters that you’re a match.
3. Strong professional summary, not a weak objective statement
You may hear people say that objective statements are archaic and unnecessary. The truth is, those vague and generalized objective statements that read “Professional looking to use education and skills to grow and be challenged” were never effective in the first place.
A professional summary is a succinct, yet detailed pitch (two to five sentences long) that highlights your key job-specific skills and industry experience. Explain your value as it relates to the job to which you are applying.
4. Includes an “area of expertise” section.
This is the area to showcase your industry-specific skills and most desirable professional qualities.
Avoid an abundance of soft skills like “team leadership” and be sure to add skills and competencies that relate directly to the job.
5. Company name, dates employed and job title are visible.
This is information that every employer’s eyes are guaranteed to scan.
6. Reverse chronological order.
Employers are interested in your most recent experience. Start with your most present employer and work your way back in time. A present job should be written in the present tense, while past jobs should be written in the past tense.
7. Simple font and not overly creative.
Show that you’re creative and unique in ways that don’t involve using Comic Sans font. Choose one consistent font that is clear and legible. Arial, Calibri and Books Antique are solid choices. Make sure the font color is black.
8. Does not use any pronouns.
Save the “I’s” for the in-person interview. A résumé should also never be written in the third person. The résumé language is written in the “implied first person.” A sentence should read as if it could contain the pronoun “I” at the beginning, but no pronouns should appear.
9. No images or headshots.
Unless you’re an actor, there is no need for a professional headshot on your résumé. And if you think Clipart is going to spice up your professional document, you’re wrong.
Images and photographs only affect the online application software we so often submit our résumés through.
10. Achievements are clearly separated from responsibilities.
Responsibilities are great, though they can oftentimes sound a bit general. Be sure to separate your achievements from your basic tasks, by writing your responsibilities as a concise block of text and your accomplishments as bullet points.
If you’ve successfully led a project, saved your company money or had any other notable results, they should stand out as their own bullet points so employers will be quickly drawn to that information.
Note: For entry-level résumés lacking experience, it’s OK to use bullet point format, but be sure sentences are structured properly (see #11).
11. Sentences are written in a results-driven structure and are quantified.
Employers care much more about the results you’ve generated through execution rather than the daily duties you managed.
It’s important that achievements are quantified and written in a “results-followed-by-action” format, similar to this: “Generated $25K in first year by establishing key sales relationships and making 100+ outgoing calls daily.”
12. Only meaningful keywords used.
The term “buzzword” has become a buzzword in itself. While it’s important to utilize keywords in a résumé, it’s more important that the keywords are strategically chosen.
“Spearheaded” sounds great, but when a résumé is saturated with misplaced words, it loses its value. Use a variety of go-getter action verbs like “generated,” “facilitated,” “implemented,” and use them appropriately.
13. Education is clear and in the right spot.
If you are an entry-level candidate and your education is more of a selling point than your professional experience, your education information should appear toward the top of the résumé.
If you have more experience in the field and a number of jobs, education should appear at the bottom.
14. It’s professionally written.
Contrary to popular belief, employers prefer professionally written résumés. A résumé written by a professional does not render your experience and skills invalid. It simply ensures that the information employers want to see is clearly and effectively presented.
A professional format is also technically optimized so that the résumé is safely passed through online submission software. Many résumés that are not professionally written and formatted become altered and obscured during this stage.
So don’t hesitate to take a stab at reconstructing your own resume using these tips. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with calling in a professional to ensure your resume is top quality and sets you apart from the competition.