Whether you’re a recent graduate writing your very first resume or you’re updating your professional resume to progress your career, it’s a good idea to learn what makes a good resume. While your cover letter is important, there’s no denying that it’s your resume that carries most of the weight when it comes to a job search. This is especially true if it has to pass through applicant tracking systems that often determine whether your resume even reaches the eyes of a hiring manager.
These 10 resume writing tips will help you stand out from the crowd, make it through an ATS scan and impress the all-important recruiter.
1. Choose the right resume format
Whether you opt for a chronological resume format or a functional one, it is important that your resume format showcases your strengths, skills and work experience. If you have a spotty work history, for example, a functional resume may do you more justice than a chronological one. For more on choosing the right resume format, visit our resume formats page.
2. Double-check your contact information
You can write the best resume in the world and still be undermined by out-of-date contact information. Make sure your email and phone number are current before you submit your resume.
3. Limit your work experience to the past 10 years
We recommend that you limit yourself to the last 10 years to ensure you are discussing relatively recent and relevant work experience and achievements. Adding jobs from further back also runs the risk of creating a lengthier resume that employers will be less inclined to read.
4. Use keywords from the job description
Mirroring the language used in the job description of the position – the skills and experiences that the role requires – in your resume is a great way to make sure you have a good chance of getting past applicant tracking systems. Just match the skills and experiences you possess with the keywords. For example, if a job posting stresses “project management” and you can claim that skill, list it in your resume and provide a work history example or two where you displayed good project management.
5. Use action verbs to avoid passivity
Passive language is one of the most common resume mistakes. Phrases like “I was responsible for” do not tell recruiters anything about how you actually did the job. Instead, try to use action verbs like “oversaw” or “achieved.”
6. List relevant internships
Internships are an excellent way to distinguish yourself from other applicants if you are a recent graduate with limited professional work experience. Don’t be afraid to list them (especially if you were with a well-known company such as Microsoft or Google). You can also list volunteer work.
7. Create a robust skills section
Recruiters are often just as interested in your skills and qualifications as they are in the jobs you’ve held, so even if you choose a chronological format, you should create a robust skills section. Mention all of your relevant hard and soft skills and be sure to note any certifications, awards or notable achievements.
8.List your old job title properly
Job titles are as important for recruiters as they are for job seekers. Your previous job titles act as keywords for ATS and hiring managers who are scanning your resume, so make sure you have the most accurate title for your previous roles.
9. Include social media URLs
If you have a LinkedIn profile, it’s a good idea to provide it in your resume so hiring managers can get more insight on your qualifications and connections. Depending on your industry, it may also be a good idea to include links to any professional websites or blogs you have.
10. Proofread (seriously)
Nothing will ruin the hard work you have put into creating your resume quite like typos. Carelessness is off-putting for recruiters, so taking the time to proofread your resume is always a good idea. If you use our resume builder to construct your resume, our built-in tools will help do the proofreading for you.
In short, these 10 resume tips are easy to implement, and they will ensure your resume is professional and eye-catching while retaining readability.