Be honest: do you think that a resume is a boring document that holds little value? After all, recruiters typically only spend about six seconds reading (err, scanning) your resume. How much value can this silly piece of paper actually provide?
Get ready because we're about to drop some truths in the form of resume writing tips.
Your resume is actually crucial from the beginning to the end of the hiring process. For starters, it tells employers what you can do for them. If you explain this well, then they could even picture you working with them. Next, your resume will help hiring managers decide which interview questions to ask you.
Lastly, your resume reminds employers of your skills and experience when it's time for them to make a decision.
So what are you waiting for? Check out our resume writing tips and apply them to your own resume!
11 Best Resume Writing Tips of 2021
1. What needs to be included in a resume?
Before you start writing your resume, you need to determine which sections will be included in your resume. Most resumes include the following sections, although the order depends on the resume format you choose.
- Contact Information
- Summary Statement
- Skills List
- Work History
- Education and Training
2. Double check to make sure that you provide updated, accurate contact information
The first of our resume writing tips may seem like a no-brainer. However, jobseekers often skip this important step. A mistake in this section could prevent a hiring manager from contacting you with an interview opportunity. And if you plan to make changes to a resume that you already have on file, then it's even easier to include an old email address or phone number. Take a minute to read this section carefully to prevent a regrettable — and silly — mistake.
3. Write a noteworthy summary statement
A summary statement is a series of short sentences that describes your most relevant skills and accomplishments. Typically, you write two to four of these short sentences. Omit "I" and write declarative statements, such as "Skilled at aligning marketing and communications needs for an array of small businesses." You can also write bullet points, if you prefer.
The summary statement is the first thing that an employer will see, so make those few precious seconds count. Look at the job description and see exactly what they need. Touch on your most valuable, applicable skills here.
What happened to the objective statement? The objective statement is out of style. Recruiters know what your objective is: to get a job. Instead, they want to see what you can do for them.
4. Build a strong skills section
Remember that our resume writing tips revealed that employers don't look at resumes for more than a few seconds? Creating a great skills section can help recruiters skim your document quickly to see if you have the qualifications that they seek.
Like the rest of our resume writing tips, there's more to perfecting this step than just writing the words. Read the job description. Which desired capabilities does the employer need most? Often, the qualities listed at the top are more important to the organization. Look for phrases like "strongly preferred" as well. Use your critical thinking skills to master this valuable section.
5. Organize your work history with high attention to detail
First, write your experience in reverse chronological order. This means that your most recent job goes on top.
Next, return to the job post. Place your most relevant accomplishments and duties at the top of each job listing. This allows your reader to catch crucial information while skimming.
Lastly, aim for consistency. If you write your dates of employment like this "Apr. 2015 – Apr. 2017" for one job, then don't write "September 2010 – April 2015" for a different one. Similarly, don't write "Manage a team of five" if you are referring to a job that you held in the past. It's a nitpicky detail, but recruiters may assume negative things about your work performance if they catch this error.
6. Focus on accomplishments, not duties
Instead of only listing the things that you did in your past positions, discuss your professional achievements. Don't mistake us: you should list some duties, but don't take up too much space doing so. Employers can likely guess what you did based on your job titles. As is the theme of our resume writing tips, tell them something about you that they don't know.
If you can, look through old emails to help you determine your greatest accomplishments.
7. Lead every line of your work history section with a strong action verb
No matter how nervous you may feel to apply to a job, pretend that you're confident. You can do this by using strong action verbs in your work history section.
Look at the statements below. Which one sounds more powerful to you?
"Was responsible for cleaning the bathrooms"
"Managed all cleaning responsibilities for the bathrooms"
Notice how the second example sounds more commanding, yet the statements share the same information? Proper wording is a great way to impress recruiters.
8. Quantify your accomplishments
Have you ever heard a buddy brag about a fishing trip by saying something like, "I caught the biggest fish ever! It was so big that you wouldn't believe it," but they conveniently forgot to take a photo or measure it? (We promise, this is related to resume writing tips!)
Well, that's what you sound like when you claim things on your resume without backing them up with data. Don't say that you oversaw "many" patients at the clinic. Instead, share the number that you usually cared for over one shift. Did you help the company earn money? Reveal how much money.
This is one of our most important resume writing tips. If you follow this practice, then you provide evidence for employers. Therefore, you will build a stronger case for your competencies.
9. But don't lie
Let's return to that big fish story. If your buddy Photoshopped a picture to make the fish look bigger, then you would notice. Maybe you wouldn't see it immediately, but you'd eventually take a closer look and notice. And once you do see it, then you won't trust that friend the next time he tells you about a big fish he caught.
Resume writing is similar. If you lie, the employer will find out someday. Even if they find out after you have been hired, your relationship will not be the same.
10. Craft a relevant, concise education section
The second-to-last of our resume writing tips is about your education section. Keep this field short. Only include relevant information. But what's "relevant" in this context? Let's go over some examples.
If you have a bachelor's degree, then don't share your high school information. You obviously obtained a high school diploma or equivalent.
However, if you have a master's or Ph.D., then you should still include your bachelor's degree. Write about your areas of focus in your post-graduate work, but skip it for undergrad.
If you have room, then include clubs and activities that are not religious or political. This can help recruiters see if you are a good culture fit. But it also won't hurt you if you don't share this information.
11. Edit, edit, then edit some more!
Start by reading your resume out loud. You will catch more errors when you hear your voice read them.
Next, read your resume from bottom to top. This forces you to concentrate on your reading, which will help you find more issues.
Have some time? Send your resume to a trusted friend. A fresh pair of eyes will help you see things that you might have missed.
Follow these resume tips and you'll be well on your way to finding a great job in no time!
If you want extra help making a professional resume, then use our customized resume builder. With industry-specific text examples ready for you to personalize, you can create a perfect resume any time.
Additional Resume Writing Tips
1. What is the best format to send a resume?
There are three main resume formats and each feature certain strengths and weaknesses.
- Chronological Resume Format: The most popular resume format among jobseekers, recruiters, and hiring managers. This resume format is best for jobseekers with a steady work history.
- Functional Resume Format: This resume format focuses on your skills and experience. It's best for jobseekers with frequent career changes and large gaps between jobs.
- Combination Resume Format: The combination highlights the best features of the previous resume formats. The first half of the format focuses on skills and accomplishments, while the last half summarizes a jobseeker's work history.
2. How many pages should be in a resume?
The length of a resume can range from one- to three-pages, depending on experience. A general rule of thumb is to write one page for every ten years of experience.
- One-page resume: Best for entry-level jobseekers and young professionals.
- Two-page resume: Best for people with a storied history in the workforce or for people with multiple roles and career advancements in their work history.
- Three-page resume: Appropriate for executives and academics.
3. What is the best font to use on a resume?
Although Times New Roman is the best default font for resumes, there are several alternate fonts that indicate professionalism and creativity.
- Helvetica Neue