How to Write a Resume that Works: Tips to Take Your Resume from “Meh” to “We Need to Meet Her!”
March 2, 2019
When is the last time you updated your resume?
You probably added in your most recent role the last time you were applying to a job. But maybe that was 7 years ago! You may have removed your high school education to save space, or took out a role that isn’t relevant anymore. But that’s like going to the hair dresser to get a trim. I’m talking a real update. Like a kitchen renovation update. A Chip and Joanna update!
That may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ll walk you through how to write a resume that works and help you avoid some common pitfalls. Sound good? Let’s do this.
A Fresh Coat of Paint
Start with your format. You can tidy up your current resume formatting by allowing for more white space and adding some simple design elements (font size, bold, capital letters). It’s amazing what these little changes can do to make your resume easier to read.
Tip: Keep your font size at 11 or 12. 10 starts getting squinty!
Or you can start from scratch with a new resume template. Check out these free resume templates on Canva. Lots of great options to choose from and easy to edit. If you’re in the creative industry, feel free to add color and some flair. Or you can keep it simple and clean. Either way, make sure you don’t overcrowd your resume, and that your content is on point. We’ll get to that next.
Who Are You?
Where’s your name on your resume? At the top? Cool. But make sure your design highlights your name and contact details enough. Bold text, capitals – find what looks right to you, but make sure you don’t fade into the background.
Include your name, phone number, and email at a minimum. Physical mailing address isn’t required – some people will choose only to use city and state or leave it off all together.
Consider adding in your LinkedIn profile URL too. It’s nice to put a face to a name, and can help highlight more of your work if you post articles or have a portfolio available on the platform. This can be particularly useful for someone re-entering the workforce or changing industries. Show that you’re up to date with industry trends by posting relevant articles and engage with other professionals in your target industry/company.
What’s Your Deal?
Often applicants will dive straight into their Education or Experience sections next. Totally fine if you want to do that. But have you thought about adding in a Professional Profile? Objectives are a bit outdated, but a profile statement about what you bring to the table as an employee can be an effective intro and set you apart.
Keep your profile brief. Think of it as a ten second elevator pitch. You’re in the elevator with your prospective employer and you have one floor before they are getting off. What do you say that makes them want to take your resume back with them to their desk?
How Do You Add Value?
Remember when we talked about cover letters? My story about my 3 year old applying to push the cart at the grocery store was certainly tongue in cheek, but also completely accurate. Sure it’s nice that he was excited to push the cart, but what was he going to do for ME as the CEO of getting through this grocery shopping trip?
Same philosophy applies to your resume. Your resume should highlight how you add value and what you will bring to the job. That’s the meat in the Experience section. It shouldn’t be a list of your responsibilities; instead your resume should showcase your key accomplishments and skills.
Keep it to 3 to 5 bullet points per role too. Bullet points can be longer than one line, and often will, but don’t turn your resume into a novel. Get to the good stuff right away, use strong action verbs, and then talk about your experience in more detail at the interview.
Where Did You Learn That?
I generally recommend moving your Education section to below your Experience section if you’ve been in the workforce for more than a few years. Your education is important, but as a hiring manager I’m going to skip right down to what you’ve been working on lately to get a better understanding of your professional expertise.
For your Education section make sure to include your schools, degrees earned, and years of attendance. That’s a given. But don’t forget to add in club leadership roles or honors as appropriate.
What Makes You Unique?
A resumes is all about business right? Buttoned up, all professional, straight laced.
But… maybe not.
You aren’t a one dimensional person; you have interests and passions outside of the office and while maybe that stuff doesn’t line up with a job requirement, it makes you who you are. That’s where a Personal section comes in. Be the candidate with great skills who also is interested in photography, learning foreign languages, historical fiction, or soccer – this makes you could stand out a bit more. The interviewer on the other side of your resume isn’t one dimensional either and you could have something in common. Or your creative streak, travel experience, or sense of humor could make you an even better candidate for the job!
If you’re hesitant to add in a personal section, think about adding in a section on Skills instead. Does the job you’re applying for require specific skills (technical skills, communication skills, nunchuck skills)? Make sure it’s super clear you have exactly what the employer is looking for.
Help Me, Help You
Want some more resume help? I’ve got you! Get your free resume checklist to walk you through the steps to take your resume from “meh” to “let’s bring her in!” Or if you want to get some 1:1 coaching and edits on your resume, shoot me an email!
Now that you’re resume is looking FANTASTIC, time to start getting it out there. But only to jobs you really want. Remember that part!
With an overabundance of excitement about resume writing,