A resume is a very important document that carries multiple uses. It’s your introduction card into the professional world, it’s what sets you apart from the rest of the job hunters, and it lends the first impression to the recruiter and future coworkers. Moreover, it’s a sales pitch for yourself and your expertise, therefore you must present yourself in the best light possible. Follow these 6 tips for creating the ideal resume!
First, avoid using any pre-made formats or templates. In my experience, they can get messy and the information may not be as clear as the recruiter, and you, need it to be. Opt for creating your resume from scratch as it’s not as hard as you might think. The header will always be your full name in big letter size and it has to be centered. This will be followed by a phone number and email address. After that, you jump into the content of your resume. The first section will be your qualifications. You should do this section in bullets and keep each bullet up to a sentence or two, and no more than 5-8 bullets. Qualification examples could be any marketable or job-required skill that you may possess, such as fluency in a second language, coding abilities, etc. You could also add achievements in past work experiences. After your qualifications, you add in your past work experiences. Your work experiences shouldn’t be in chronological order, rather they should be organized from the most recent to the oldest. Here you highlight your responsibilities, achievements, promotions, certifications, and recognitions you might have gained during your time in that position. Lastly, you’ll finish your resume with your education. Most people only add their college or university education, while others add until high school. Again, you’ll be organizing your education history from latest to oldest.
2. Action Words
Avoid using weak or passive sentences! Your recruiter won’t read these as strongly and they might even gloss over the importance or value of what you’re trying to convey. Instead, opt for action words such as knowledgeable, developed, enhanced, analyzed, among others. A quick google search can help you identify what words fit you best. The sentence “I was on the team that developed methods for speeding-up search processes” doesn’t read as well as “Developed in conjunction with team methods for optimizing search processes”, so keep that in mind.
3. Transferable Skills
Just starting in a professional job market without professional experience to rely on? Worry not! Every job experience counts, and it’s up to you to spin it to your advantage. If you have experience working as a teenager in the foodservice industry, then you surely have acquired hard skills in sales, customer service care and attention, and conflict resolution Likewise, if your experience is babysitting, then you have some knowledge about child-rearing and child development. Not to mention the soft skills that these examples can bring to the table, such as work ethic, time-management, flexibility, teamwork, ability to work under pressure, and many more. These are called transferable skills, and every job contributes and helps develop your skillset.
4. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
Recruiters don’t want to read your life story on your resume. They want the facts on who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you. Plus, a resume should be easy to read (remember the formatting?). As a rule of thumb, your resume shouldn’t exceed one page. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but still, try to keep it concise. If you have plenty of work experience for the job you are applying for, showcase it, however, don’t add in experiences from your junior years if they’re not relevant. Make sure to avoid sentences that are more than two lines long, and avoid using first-person pronouns (remember tip #2!). Instead, focus on your skills, qualifications, and experiences that are relevant for the job you are applying for. More on this in tip #6.
5. Embellish, But Never Lie
Don’t be afraid to embellish your experiences a little bit, but never, ever lie about them. Don’t say that you have expertise in any skill when you actually don’t, as this can cause serious problems down the line. The truth will always come out. Instead, opt for embellishing your actual experiences. Have any unpaid writing or editing experience? Label yourself a freelancer. Love social media and are fluent across multiple platforms? Tack on the label of Social Media Manager/Coordinator. Be creative, think hard on it, and you’ll see that you have a lot to offer. As an example, I was a volunteer assistant researcher during my college years. I performed a variety of duties in this role, and in my resume, I embellished by saying that I have experience in clerical duties, media coordination, and, of course, research experience. Those were not lies by any means, nor exaggerations, rather they were elevated ways of describing my duties and responsibilities. Remember, and I cannot emphasize this enough, do not lie.
6. Tailor It
It is extra work, but you should always tailor your resume for each new job you’re applying for. It might seem tedious and unnecessary, but it’s part of optimizing your resume (see tip #4). If you have multiple skills or multiple career paths, you have to consider what you put on your resume for the recruiter to see. For example, if you have experience in both social media management and law, but now want to focus solely on law, then on your resume, you’d give more weight, importance, and, above all else, actionable words to your law experience. Don’t discount your social media experience altogether, as this can offer you some transferable skills, but don’t focus heavily on that as it’s not as necessary. Pro tip: always keep your resume saved as a word document (docx.) as it’s easier to make any changes or additions, then save individually as a pdf.