Your resume is the first impression that any recruiter has of you, so it’s important that you make an impression by standing out – in a good way. Between the two of us, we’ve had a fair share of jobs that we’ve applied for as well as resumés that we’ve gone through. The pandemic is an especially critical time to know how to write a good resume that will immediately make you appealing to recruiters. After all, there is a lot of uncertainty in the job markets and if you are looking to shift, it’s important to know how to write a good resume.
Here are 7 tips that we’ve personally tried and have known to be effective.
Keep it to one page only
The most effective resumes are only one page long. It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have – you should be able to fit into a single page. Recruiters usually skim through resumes and the moment they notice that a resume is 2 or 3 pager, they might immediately be put off by it and not even consider you for the job! Being concise and to the point is a characteristic that is greatly valued in every company, so please refrain from sending in novels about your life in the office. If you’re finding it hard to concise your experience, use a resumé builder like Novoresume, Resumegenius, Zety or any other tool that’s available online to help you figure out how you can best compress everything to a page.
Customize your resume for every application
This might seem like a pain to do, but the results are incredibly effective and they go a long way in helping you keep your resumé concise. Every time you apply for a job, make tweaks to your resume based on what the job description says in the hiring call. If there’s an emphasis on a particular skill (Excel macros, for example) and you know it, make sure it’s front and centre on your resume. If they’re looking for someone who’s worked extensively with customers from a certain geography and you have, make sure it’s highlighted. Think about it this way: the perfect candidate for their job matches every bullet point in the job description. How can you be that candidate?
Stay away from the photos
There’s a lot of divided opinion about this, where for some careers it’s okay but for some others you’re better off without them. In our experience, we’ve noticed that photos are ok in creative fields as well as startup environments. However, we would ask you to err on the side of caution and not include a photo in your resume unless specifically called for. If your headhunter must absolutely know how you look, they can always look you up on social media. And if you must include a photo, make sure it’s a professionally shot one and not a blurry iphone selfie/you posing on a bike/an uneven crop from a group photo (these are examples from actual resumes we’ve vetted during hiring processes in the last year!). It creates a terrible first impression.
Quantify your impact
Numbers add a significant weight to your experience. “Written articles” and “in charge of newsletter” is not nearly as impactful as “authored 20 articles on xyz” or “wrote 50 editions of the company’s newsletter over the course of 6 months & doubled subscribers”. Representing your achievements in a quantified form – where you can clearly demonstrate the value you brought your employer is one of the most powerful ways to make an impact to your recruiter.
This is more of a hack – make your top section the most impactful section in your resume. We know that recruiters skim, so make sure you give them what they want right upfront. Make it the most powerful part of your resume and give them reason to pause and go through your resume in full.
Add links wherever possible
If you have a blog or a body of work or a website that has more information about the work that you do, add links so the recruiter can check them out. Given that we all live in the golden age of pdf resumes, linking to sites and even social media profiles is almost necessary. Please remember to only link to open content. Providing links to sites that are password protected or social media accounts that are private only cause irritation.
Use action words & success words
Resumes can tend to sound repetitive, which is why it’s important to use a healthy combination of action words that demonstrate the work you did and follow it up with success words that indicate value. Actions words are ‘led’, ‘created’, ‘organized’, ‘managed’ and success words are ‘added’, ‘accelerated’, ‘grew’, ‘expanded’, ‘eliminated’ and so on. This article from Inc. is a great reference point for the success words you should look to add in your resume.
And those are our tips! If you have any questions about creating powerful and successful resumes, let us know in the comments! We’ll try our best to help!