Your resume is the most important document you'll submit in your job search. It's your front-line fighter, so to speak, as it's your first opportunity to present yourself to a potential employer.
A strong resume can help you stand out from the crowd, but a weak resume can remove you from the running, so you want to do all you can to make sure your resume is the best it can be.
It can be difficult to succinctly present all of your experiences and qualifications, but there are many ways to spruce up your resume without going overboard. To help you land an interview, here are some of best resume writing tips:
1. Keep your resume short and direct
The No. 1 rule of writing a resume is to keep it short and to the point. The general rule is no more than one page unless you have a very good reason for it to be longer, like an extensive career or many highly applicable work experiences.
Your resume should target the specific job you are applying for. Sending the same resume off to every job you apply for will be a detriment.
An easy way to keep your resume trim is to only include recent, relevant experience. While that yearlong first or second job might have taught you a lot about the field, it's not always necessary to include every detail from your entire career history.
2. Create an original resume template
While it's helpful to refer to a professional resume template, don't follow it rigidly. Employers appreciate originality.
3. Craft a career snapshot
More recently, career experts have urged job seekers to do away with the old "objective" statement and instead consider including a brief summary, called a "career snapshot," at the top of their resumes. Think of your career snapshot as an answer to the question "how would you describe your work experience in one sentence?" The summary is an opportunity to sum up your most relevant and important skills, experience, or assets right off the bat.
4. Optimize your text
If a company uses an applicant tracking system (ATS) to collect and scan resumes, a human hiring manager may never even glance at any application that doesn't fit the job criteria they've entered. Trish O'Brien, vice president of human resources at Caliper, emphasized adapting your resume to the position to increase your likelihood of passing the first level.
5. Think beyond your job duties
Hiring managers don't want to read a list of your job duties. They want concrete examples of your accomplishments in previous positions that show how you can make a difference in this new position. Specific merits are more engaging to read than just your experiences. For example, "I reduced operating expenses by 23% in six months" is far more interesting to an employer than "I have 30 years of sales experience".
6. Use the right language to stand out
Descriptions of your job duties and accomplishments won't do you any favors. Make sure you're using strong action words like "achieved," "designed," "improved" and "established" to describe your roles and projects. This will make you sound confident while imparting vital information. But be cautious about depending on action verbs – make sure to include details about how you improved a process or achieved a goal.
Words such as 'professional,' 'results-driven' and 'detail-oriented' provide very little helpful information, it's better to use actual job titles than these words.
7. List your social media profiles
Many hiring managers today screen candidates on social networks. Save them a step by providing your profile links on your resume. Seasoned applicants with a professional social presence would do well to include URLs for their LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and blog, if applicable.
8. Check for errors
Triple-check your own work, and then have someone else look over your resume to ensure it's 100% clean. There is no room for sloppiness on your resume, a hiring manager will likely automatically dismiss your application if they spot a typo or grammatical error.
9. Follow instructions
Yet another reason not to use generic, cookie-cutter job applications is that some companies have very specific instructions as to what they want to see in your resume, cover letter and work samples. Failing to do what's been asked could mean an automatic no from employers.