Writing the best resume possible is a daunting task. It takes forever, you use up other people's time to read it, and you end up taking a hit to your self esteem because you don’t have much to show for. There’s a solution to this, and in this article I will describe everything from how to eliminate that stress in writing the document down to what font to use.
First, we must determine the purpose of your resume. Are you applying for a job in a particular industry? Is this your first job application? Having a certain industry in mind helps a lot when formatting and writing the content because you have an idea of what the recruiter or HR rep is looking for. Optimizing the verbiage and what sections have the most bullets is also incredibly important, and that will also be determined somewhat by which occupation you’re applying for. Let’s dive into the three key points of your resume and how to make the most of them.
First off, in order to determine the general layout of the resume, check out our article on resume format. This will give you some insight on how your resume should look based on the industry you’re interested in. If you’re unsure, but still want to get started on the information, begin with a centered header with your name, contact information, and the city in which you live. This, along with the rest of your resume, should utilize a standard professional font (unless you’re really going with a more creative format) such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica Neue. Then, think about what you’re going to highlight in your resume. This will be covered deeper in the Prioritization category. Every section should be similar, and I recommend having the header bolded with a line underneath. Under, in each section of the header, have the name of the subject matter, whether it be a job, leadership opportunity, or otherwise, on the left, then have the dates on the same line to the right. It should look something like this:
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Depending on the title, it may be beneficial to describe what the position’s organization represented (if it’s a big name, this may not be necessary). Under your position title is where you put your bullets. This continues throughout all your positions in every section. Also, make sure to list your experience chronologically - LinkedIn does a great job of this, and if you’ve ever seen a LinkedIn profile, it’s very easy to read what the person has accomplished in a certain timeframe.
Finally, most millennials and college students should have a resume that's only a page long. Any executives or people applying for high-level jobs can have multiple pages, but the one page limit is key to being concise and not wasting too much of the recruiter’s time reading. Utilize as much space on the page as possible - edit your margins and font sizes and don’t leave any unnecessary space. This can also show your strength in presenting yourself along with other bits of information in a short amount of time, which is an extremely valuable skill to have no matter the industry. Make the resume look full, but don’t add anything you don't have to. If you have all your information on the document but there’s still a bit of empty space, edit the formatting to evenly disperse the information throughout the page, whether that’s editing the size of the titles and headers, or adding in a space before every position, or even adding a bit of spacing to your bullets.
Your word choice is arguably the most important part of your resume. The ability to articulate your accomplishments professionally is extremely appealing to recruiters. There are a few rules to follow along with optimizing every verb and adjective in your resume, and the first is eliminating all unnecessary words. You have to realize that recruiters are solely looking for content that describes your experience, and nothing else. Get rid of all “the”s, “they”s, and “their”s. Your content will still read perfectly fine without those words. Also, you should start every bullet off with either a single or a string of strong verbs. The recruiter will just go down the page and glance over your document, but if you have strong verbs to start every bullet point, you will catch their eye and draw them in to read the entire sentence. Following the strong verbiage, enter your achievements specifically - use numbers, percentages, or even dollar amounts (the recruiters love the dollar signs) to show your success quantitatively.
Some great verbs (my favorites) to throw in your resume are: utilized, managed, assisted, drove, communicated, identified, validated, consulted, accepted. You can also change your verbs/adjectives by entering existing ones into Thesaurus.com and looking for stronger verbs.
As you grow your portfolio of experience, it will be tough to keep everything on a single page - so you may have to prioritize what’s important given the industry you’re applying into. The way to do this is to think in the head of the recruiter - what is the company really looking for? For example, if you’re applying into a tech company, but have worked both as a stock trader and a software engineer, it’s definitely more important to highlight the software engineer position heavily over the stock trader one because that’s the one tech companies are going to care about. I’m not saying leave out positions entirely, but it’s worth considering the amount you write for each section. Also, do not be afraid to cut out sections that aren’t particularly necessary - for example, if you have a skills & interests section, but you talk about a lot of your skills in your bullets, then it’s implied that you have the skills and you don’t need to list them again.
To conclude, the ability to write a great resume resides in the capacity of the three topics listed. If you optimize each section to its fullest, your top-notch resume will stand out heavily to recruiters.
Still, you can see that writing a great resume takes a lot of effort. We understand that you might not have the time to do so, nor for your peers to proofread it. We also see that the resume-writing market is quite expensive, which requires students and millennials to write resumes on their own, which is the last thing a busy student wants to do.
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