Writing a resume can be overwhelming; this is the one aspect of the job search that a candidate can control. A lifetime of education, work experience, and skills must be condensed down to one sleek document. Keeping a resume brief and to the point is imperative. Knowing that a recruiter takes less than 10 seconds to decide ones future in the workplace, the candidate will spend hours perfecting their presentation and stressing over the smallest details. Unfortunately, the conflicting advice online is exasperating. Though trends may change each year, the basics remain the same. As a recruiter, I look for consistent formatting, clear organization of information, strong content and substance, and relevance to the job.
Formatting: Design matters, this is the first thing a recruiter will notice. Poor formatting suggests lack of interest and inattention to detail. Most positions require proficiency in writing and communication; a polished resume tells me that a candidate possesses these basic skills.
- Check logic, grammar, spelling, & punctuation
- Spacing should be consistent
- Keep dates flush against the margin
- Use bold, italics, and underlining sparingly
- Line-up bullets
- Utilize traditional fonts at 9-12 point size
Structure: The content of a resume must be arranged and organized in such a way that a recruiter can quickly process the facts being presented. I want to be able to see Job Titles, Dates Employed, and a few bullet points for each position describing the work that was done and the results that were achieved. The resume should be up-to-date with relevant information that shows career progression. Create a good first impression by immediately highlighting skills and abilities that are appropriate to the position. Again, dates are incredibly important. Write a chronological resume – recruiters are often skeptical of functional resumes because they can be used to conceal gaps in employment. The order of information can vary slightly, but the following should always be included:
- Name and Contact Information
- Employment history/Relevant experience
- Summary or Objective
Substance/Content: Think of a resume as a marketing document, it should clearly articulate the skills acquired through past work experience with tangible, concrete examples. Focus on accomplishments, rather than responsibilities and duties by selecting action verbs such as managed, wrote or designed. If applicable, use statistics and numbers to quantify progress and solutions to problems or to demonstrate your contribution to increased productivity. Do not make up information; everything provided on the resume must be true. Technology and social media have made it incredibly easy for recruiters to quickly verify that all details presented are, in fact, 100% accurate.
Relevance: Modify the resume for each job opportunity. A recruiter will not be impressed with content that appears to have been arranged for another position or employer. I suggest to begin with a strong, foundational resume, then use the information found directly in the job listing to adjust the content. Emphasize the skills and keywords that match the specific requirements of the job without appearing to copy/paste the actual job description. Balance is key in crafting a relevant resume. Check out the company’s website and follow them on social media to gain insight on the company’s culture and to determine how to best present yourself as a good fit for their team. Highlighting skills such as teambuilding, leadership, communication, or any other company-specific initiatives can improve your chances of reaching the next step of the hiring process.