The resume. . . it’s the be-all and end-all of building a career, and yet, it’s seemingly the most complicated aspect of a job application. If you’re reading this blog post I assume you’re looking for some guidance on where to start with your resume. Don’t worry – we have you covered!
Here are six steps to creating a perfect resume:
1. Compile all of your experience.
Create a list of every job you’ve had, your title and how long you held the position. Determine the skills you gained from each role, and then analyze how those skills will make you an asset to the company you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying to a marketing firm and most of your previous positions have been in retail, you should first understand how your retail experience is applicable to the marketing industry. Maybe you gained great customer service skills or learned to tailor sales tactics depending on the demographic of the client. Determining what skills you acquired in the previous role and how they will make you successful in the new role will better equip you to write effective job descriptions.
2. Keep it concise and impactful.
Most people recommend keeping your resume to one page, so create a short, yet effective, description for each of the roles on your list. The best advice I ever received about resume writing was to summarize my experience within two bullet points. The first one is used to describe your role and the second one to show how you were quantifiably successful in that role. Every word counts, so avoid adding information that doesn’t show how you specifically contributed. For example, there are thousands of waiters in the world, and it’s easy to assume most of their daily responsibilities. Writing “handled food service for customers” is a waste of space because the reader probably already knows that. Explain what made you the best waiter and use tangible metrics to prove it. Were you the highest tip generator? If so, by how much? Were you employee of the month? How many times? Your resume should not be a list of job descriptions. It needs to highlight your skills and have quantifiable data to back those skills up.
Your resume should not be a list of job descriptions. It needs to highlight your skills and have quantifiable data to back those skills up.
3. Time for a template!
There are a lot of great options for free template designs online, and some are more user-friendly than others. A service like Canva will allow you to edit directly on the document without having to download any software onto your computer. No matter the template you choose, it should reflect who you are in an easy-to-read manner. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a template:
- Busy doesn’t mean better: The design might be great, but consider another option if it detracts from the information. The purpose of your resume is to showcase your skills and experiences to employers, so you don’t want anything distracting from the reasons they should hire you.
- There’s time and a place for everything: Not only should a resume reflect who you are, but it should also reflect the position you’re applying for. Someone applying for a job at NASA will naturally have a different resume template than that of a web designer at Adobe. When working in a creative field, your resume can, and should, be used as an additional way to showcase your design skills and creativity. In the case of a non-visual field where design isn’t a major factor, use a template to keep things organized and professional-looking. Unique design elements won’t always be important, but that doesn’t mean you should lose them all together.
- Add a personal touch: Templates have a lot of benefits, but odds are if you found it online so did 100 other people. Make it personal by adding a logo, linking to your website or changing the fonts and colors to reflect your personality. The template is there to guide the structure, but don’t be afraid to change it up to show who you are.
Remember, this is step number three for a reason: Beginning with the template is a surefire way to derail your writing process. I like to call it productive procrastination. Playing around with different designs is fun and important for your resume, but it also tricks you into thinking you’ve accomplished a lot when, in reality, you have nothing you can send to an employer. The content is what will get you a job, so focus on it first and foremost, and then use the design to supplement your excellent writing.
4. Arrange your information to highlight strengths.
Now that you have a template chosen, it’s time to input the information. Organize your resume in a way that will highlight your strengths. For example, when I created my first resume in college I didn’t have a lot of practical experience, but one of my strengths was a high GPA, so I put my education at the top of the page. Now that I have more relevant skills, I rearranged the template so that my professional experience catches the reader’s eye first and moved my education to a less prominent location. Another good habit is changing headings to make them compatible with the position you want – instead of simply saying “Experience” you could use “Marketing Experience,” for example.
5. Review and commit.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and dwell on every little detail, leading to confusion and a lot of rewriting. Have a few people review it, make the changes that you see fit and then commit. It also helps to give each person something specific to look for during the review process. For example, the first reviewer could comment only on readability and flow, the second could review for grammar and the third person can comment on the content. This tactic helps in a couple of ways: For one, it allows you to choose a reviewer based on their skills rather than arbitrarily asking around. Second, it eliminates an overwhelming amount of opinions – if three people comment on the design, odds are they will all say something different. Once you have feedback, make the changes that still reflect your style and then send it off.
6. Evaluate and adapt.
You won’t know how effective a resume is until you send it out and see how it performs. Choose a few compani
es that you’re interested in but aren’t top choices and send them your resume. If you receive positive responses then it’s ready to be sent
to your high-priority jobs. If the resume isn’t getting a lot of traction, have additional people review it. It could be that your resume isn’t reading the way you thought it would. Or if you’re applying through a recruiting site like Indeed, not including SEO-driven (search engine optimization) keywords could alter the success of your resume. Once you receive your second round of feedback, make the changes and send it off again to another group of employers. Remember, a resume will always be a living document. It will need to be continuously tweaked to give you the best chance at landing a job. While it may be frustrating, monitoring your resume and making changes will ensure it’s the best it can be.
In the end, resumes are subjective. Everyone has different preferences, so as you go through this process keep in mind that your resume should be tailored to your personality and the job you want. Be willing to take criticism, but don’t feel like you need to adhere to everyone’s opinions. By following these steps you can create a great resume without the headache.
Leave a comment below with your best advice for resume writing!