Your resume is one of the first things that a potential employer will see so you want to make sure that it makes a dazzling impression. Remember that employers may be looking at hundreds of resumes so small mistakes or oversights may be enough to take you out of the running. We polled experts in the industry to find out what they look for in resumes. They came back with a list of simple tips to help set your resume apart from the pack.
Chloe Brittain is the owner of Opal Transcription Services, an audio transcription company serving businesses and professionals in the U.S. and Canada.
Be consistent with details like capitalization and punctuation. For example, if you include bullet-point lists in your resume, decide whether or not you’ll use a period after each item and keep it consistent the whole way through. Again, if you use title case for subheads in one section of the resume, be consistent with the subheads throughout the rest of the document. “Attention to detail” is a valued skill in many professional roles, and this is the best way to demonstrate that you’ve got it!
Talya Miron-Shatz, PhD
CEO, co-founder, Buddy&Soul, a platform for personal development and visiting researcher at Cambridge University
People have always been cognitive misers, trying to get an answer as fast as possible. Which isn’t great news for you, if the question is ‘how good is this candidate?’ and the candidate is you. But, once you realize this, make it work in your favor. Give the HR people what they need – a short summary of your skills and experience, instead of expecting them to sum it all up, let alone read between the lines. To make your resume even more appealing, use emotio-laden words, which have greater persuasive power than more toned-down descriptions.”
Dan Clay is a career strategist and founder of the Conscious Career blog, where he teaches the strategies and techniques he’s learned over a lifelong career in sales to help people masterfully sell themselves through each stage of the job search process. He is also the bestselling author of How to Write the Perfect Resume.
The key to writing a great resume is to reverse-engineer it from your target job description. Companies are telling you what they want in a candidate, so why not give them exactly what they’re asking for? Pulling out the common keywords and themes found in the job description and incorporating them in your resume bullets and other key sections will make you stand out as a better fit for the role than candidates who take a less targeted approach. Plus, you’ll also stand a better chance of getting through the software filters that companies have set up to automatically reject resumes they deem as not a good match.
One trap to watch out for is relying too much on the style and appearance of your resume to strike a positive impression with employers. On average, recruiters only spend six seconds reviewing a resume at first glance, and if your resume is laid out in a trendy or unorthodox format, it may confuse them enough to reject it entirely. It’s important to stand out with substance, not with style–let your accomplishments do the talking and save the glitter for your social media profiles.
Chief Communications & Strategy Officer, Community Health Charities
One of the most important and often overlooked resume writing tips is to quickly and clearly explain your results, what you accomplished on the job. It’s great that you “handled the Eastern sales territory,” but did you make any sales? How many dollars? How many new clients? What was the percent increase? It’s wonderful that you “drafted press releases,” but did you earn any media coverage? Companies are looking for people who can get results and solve problems.