As a recruiter and professional resume writer, I’ve seen my fair share of resumes and have witnessed how a poorly written resume can make a hiring manager lose interest in an otherwise qualified candidate.
However, writing a resume that stands out in a good way doesn’t have to be a difficult ordeal, but there are some easy techniques you can utilize to get yours on top of the pile in no time.
Create a Summary Section
The summary section has replaced the objective statement on the resume. The top one-third of your resume is prime real estate to sell an employer on why they should bring you in for an interview. What better way to accomplish this than by taking a few sentences to summarize what kind of employee you are and what you bring to the table?
However, do not share EVERYTHING there is to know about you in the summary. Its purpose is to give an employer a small snapshot of you to keep them intrigued to learn more. Think of it like an online dating profile where you only have a few sentences to entice someone to swipe right and start a conversation.
Add Skills/Expertise/Qualifications Section
This section often goes underneath the summary section. You want to use it to highlight the hard skills that ATS will be looking for to pre-screen candidates. While soft skills are important, those can be mentioned in other parts of the resume, as well as in the cover letter and the interview.
Hard skills are skills that are teachable, easy to quantify, and require specific knowledge and training. Soft skills are subjective skills or “people skills” that indicate how well you relate and interact with others.
Be Consistent with Formatting
The overall look of your resume should be professional, clean and easy to read format-wise. The body text font should be no smaller than 10 pt and 14-18 pt for headers. Decide if you’re going to use month and year for your employment dates or just the year and be consistent throughout the document. Speaking of dates, they should be aligned evenly on the right side of the document.
Use capitalization, bullets and italics consistently, as well as ensure bullets line up properly. While I’m not personally a fan of color, if you decide to use it, use it sparingly and effectively.
Use Concise Phrasing
A typical employer is only going to do a quick glance at your resume to see if you make the cut. So the key is to make your resume streamlined and easy to read. This can be accomplished by removing unnecessary words and getting to the point as quickly as possible.
Wordy: “Made recommendations for case strategy in the future”
Concise: “Made recommendations for future case strategy” (saves two words)
Remove or use sparingly articles such as “a, an, the” from your resume because they are additional words that don’t add any meaning or substance to the phrase.
The Thesaurus is Your Friend
I can’t count how many times I see candidates use the same few words repeatedly in their resume. While it’s understood that you “participated”, “worked”, “handled”, or were “responsible for” x, y, z task, there are hundreds of other words you can use to get the same point across. Make good use of the thesaurus to think out of the box when describing duties you’ve done and accomplishments you have.
Focus on Accomplishments
Of course every hiring manager wants to know what your duties were in a particular position, but what really gets them excited to speak with you is your accomplishments. Even better is to quantify your accomplishments with numbers and percentages. Think of everything you’ve done in a position that can be described with $, % or # and include that.
If you don’t have numbers or percentages to use, think of what made you a rockstar in the position. Did you win an award or were you recognized in some other meaningful way? Highlighting your accomplishments is a great way to get your resume to stand out from rest of the candidates who have he exact same job as you.