10 Tips on Writing a Killer Resume
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Be relevant. A resume is a highlight reel, not a list of everything you have ever done.
The biggest mistake people make is that they approach a resume like a list of job descriptions and write out every task that they’ve ever done. A resume is an overview of your accomplishments, not a laundry list! Coaching tip: Once you get an interview, you can elaborate on your bullet points. The interview is the place to talk in greater detail, but for now, keep it to the most important details.
Be direct. Get rid of the objective (no one reads it anyway).
The first thing recruiters look for is your most recent job, so do them a favor and put it right at the top. Objectives are outdated and take up valuable space, so get rid of it! Coaching tip: Lead with work experience, close with education and aim for a one-page resume – two pages max – depending on the length of your career. Click here to download an easy to use resume template.
Be specific. Use metrics and provide numbers.
Vague ambiguity will not grab the reader the way numbers will. Define your experience by providing facts, figures and statistics. Coaching tip: Read over your resume and add numbers where you can. For example, instead of “Worked on reports and made submissions,” you should quantify it, like “Created three bi-annual reports and made four monthly submissions to executive team.”
Be clear. Write full sentences.
Just because a resume needs to be concise does not mean you can get away with using fragments and just because it needs to be descriptive doesn’t mean you can get away with run-ons. Coaching tip: The intention of business writing is to convey information, so stick to the facts. Take out any filler words, remove articles (a, an, the), pronouns (my, its and their) and superfluous adjectives. Also, don’t just rely on spell check. Get a second opinion - a fresh set of eyes to catch obvious mistakes.
Be accurate. Tense is very important.
If you are currently working in the position, use present tense and make sure all your preceding experience is written in past tense. Coaching tip: Continuity is important for the interviewer to get a sense of where you have been and what you are currently doing. If the tense is off, you might get comments like “Oh, I didn’t realize you were still working there.”
Be honest. Add additional skills only when pertinent.
I interviewed a candidate who claimed to be fluent in Spanish on his resume. When the hiring manager walked in, she started the interview in Spanish. He got all flustered and had to admit that he wasn’t exactly fluent. Elaborating your abilities on your resume might get you the interview but eventually the truth will come out, so save yourself the humiliation and just be honest. Coaching tip: Only add an Additional Skills heading if it is pertinent to the position (i.e., licenses/certificates you hold or exams you have passed).
Be structured. Not all bullet points are created equal.
The first bullet may be the only bullet someone gets a chance to read at a career fair, so make it a good one. Coaching tip: Organize your bullets according to the priorities of your position in descending order. For example, if the majority of your job is client advocacy, then make client advocacy your first bullet and the additional bullets will describe in greater detail what that entails and how you accomplish it.
Be confident. Use active voice and action words.
Simply put, active voice is direct and easier to understand and isn’t that how you want your resume to read? Also, don’t use the word “I” on a resume. Instead, simply say “Created five monthly financial reports.” Coaching tip: Refer to the previous page for 100 Action words to use on your resume and in your interviews.
Be factual. List dates of employment.
If you don’t list the dates, recruiters might think that you are hiding something. So be upfront. If you have a gap on your resume when you were unemployed or in school, be prepared to explain why. Coaching tip: It isn’t a deal-breaker if you have a gap in your job history, however, it is a deal- breaker if you lie about it and/or try to cover it up.
Be distinct. Don’t say the same thing twice.
Even though you have had a couple jobs where you did the exact same thing doesn’t mean you can copy and paste the exact same bullets for every position. Coaching tip: You must diversify your bullets, so you don’t seem lazy.
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