We all know how frustrating it is to send out hundreds of resumes and hear NOTHING back. These tips are here to make sure your resume stands out amongst the others.
Your resume is so important. An employer is supposed to assess years of hard work from one piece of paper to determine if you qualify for an interview. Because you’re only limited to one page, it’s important to really pick and choose career highlights.
Nowadays, everything is online. You can’t just walk into an office and ask for an application to work there. Because you’re applying behind a computer screen, and even interviewing behind a computer screen, it’s important to tailor your resume in a way that it will stand out.
You want to be as concise as possible in your resume while also showcasing your value to the company. Please get to the point, don’t fluff it out. Let’s review the general structure and flow your resume should follow. Each of these items are suggestions and should be used based on your work and education experience. If you have more education than work experience, then you’d want to add more things such as awards, achievements, certifications, and volunteer work.
This is a MUST. You need to include a way for the employer to contact you for a potential interview. This includes:
- Phone number
- LinkedIn or applicable website
The contact information should be at the very top of the page. Right off the bat, they will see your name and phone number and know who you are. Remember to include your address, too. A lot of employers need to know that you live within a commutable distance to their business. They may actually choose not to move forward if you live too far away.
Do check your email frequently when job searching! The last thing you’ll want to happen is you miss a message from a recruiter because you weren’t checking your email enough! It can get tough to see those important emails between the spam when you’re not actively looking for them.
Do include a LinkedIn URL or a personal website URL if applicable. LinkedIn is a great resource for recruiters to see a more in-depth description of you. Your resume is short, so this is a way for them to see more and see what you look like!
If you are applying for some sort of web or market job, you should go the extra mile to set up your own website. This shows employers you’re very versatile especially in web and advertising! Besides, learning to develop a webpage and design it really well is another skill you can learn to add to your resume.
Right at the top, after your contact information, you should include your “core competencies.” These are your hard and soft skills.
- Data analysis with Python
- Experience with Microsoft programs
- Project management
- Client relations
- Presentation and public speaking
These are only a few of the endless examples you can use. Remember to tailor these skills to the job you’re applying for!
Core competencies go at the top because you want to catch the recruiter’s eye right away. Make sure they know you have the exact skills they’re looking for right away. This will keep their eyes on your paper longer, and you’ll have less of a chance that your resume will get tossed out.
Let’s go over the difference between hard and soft skills. A hard skill is being competent in a computer program or knowing how to operate certain equipment. Soft skills are things such as being a good communicator or team player. Here are more examples of each.
- Problem Solving
- Sense of Urgency
- Positive Attitude
- Data Analysis
- Knowledge in Microsoft Programs
- Project Management
- Experience With Marketing
- Customer Relations
Alright, the next section is the one everyone is familiar with. This is what recruiters want to see. What kind of work have you already done that has prepared you to work in a position at their company?
Keep this section in precise bullet format. Let’s look at something from a customer service job.
- Engage with customers and cultivate relationships
- Use suggestive selling techniques to boost sales
- Work well with coworkers to provide excellent customer service
- Balance drawers and manage money
Highlight the important aspects of the job. If you’re applying for a similar position, then look at what they’re looking for. Use that to your advantage to show you have the experience the employer is looking for. If you’re applying for a job in a laboratory, then you’ll want to talk more about your academic research experience than your customer service experience. While you may think your customer service job was important, employers may think the lab skills you learned are more relevant to the job role.
Lastly, include any education you have. If you are fresh out of college or only have a high school diploma, include your extracurriculars. Employers like to see that you can work on a team, so including sports is always an excellent idea.
Another thing you can do if you don’t have much work experience is adding relevant coursework. This shows that you learned the skills in school that are needed to perform the job.
University of Southern California | BS in Cellular and Molecular Biology August 2015 - May 2019 - 4 Year member of Women's Club Soccer - Semester abroad in Florence, Italy with emphasis in international relations Relevant Coursework: - Virology with Lab - Genetics - Cellular Biology with Lab
This is probably one of the most important steps for what to put in a resume. Keywords, keywords, keywords. It’s tedious work, but make sure to hide keywords throughout your resume.
What is a keyword? As mentioned before, it’s a skill or a word from a job posting that the employer wants. For example, if the position is asking for a “team player,” then make sure the word “team player” goes into your resume somewhere. A lot of these keywords can fit into your core competencies section.
Keywords are important because nowadays, a lot of the process is automated. Some companies are receiving thousands of applications for a position. One person can’t physically go through all the resumes. Instead, an AI system is push through “good” resumes and throws out “bad” ones. If you include many keywords, the AI is more likely to pick that up and push your resume through.
Sneaky Tip: You can stuff your resume with keywords at the bottom of the document and turn the text to white. This means that AI will read your keywords, but the recruiter won’t see the messy, bulky keywords you snuck into your resume.
Always include any extra certifications or credentials you might have. This will only boost your resume. Employers want to know that you are continuously learning and working on your skillset.
If you are in the middle of a job hunt, it never hurts to try and develop extra skills or credentials. There are plenty of free programs out there to brush up on certain skills. For example, data analysis is a handy skill necessary for many different job roles. LinkedIn offers quite a few different certification courses. On the plus side, recruiters can see that you’ve taken these courses because they’ll be on your profile!
- Certified Lifeguard
- NASM Certified Personal Trainer
- Certification in Data Analytics
This one may be more applicable for those just coming out of high school or college. If you have won any achievement award, go ahead and include it on your resume. This shows you are a stellar student whose hard work has been recognized! Making Dean’s list, graduating Magna Cum Laude, or being a part of the National Honor’s Society are notable achievements.
- Teacher of the Year 2020
- National Merit Scholarship
- National Honor’s Society
Community Service/Volunteer Work
Do include any community involvement you’re a part of. This isn’t totally necessary if you already have a lot of applicable work experience. For someone just starting in their career, though, volunteer work looks excellent. Employers like to see someone who goes above and beyond to do more. This shows what kind of an employee you will be.
If you already have relative work experience, keep your volunteer work brief. If you don’t have work experience, fill out your resume as if volunteering was your actual job.
- San Diego Food Bank: 2011-2015
- San Diego Humane Society: 2016-Present
Your resume should pretty much be all bullet points. Get to the point and be concise! Make it very easy and transparent for a recruiter to understand your qualifications. You don’t want your resume to appear as a wall of text. That can make it difficult for an employer to see your skills and qualifications.
A wall of text also takes up a lot more space than is needed. Remember, when writing a one-page resume, you’ll want to use as much space for important stuff as you can.
What NOT to Put in a Resume
Do not EVER submit a resume with grammar mistakes. That is a sure way to have your resume thrown out without being looked over. It shows you aren’t careful or have attention to detail. It really shows that you don’t care that much about securing a job and are sloppy. Generally, it’s a terrible look to employers, so don’t do it. It’s so easy to have another set of eyes look over your resume before you submit it.
A personal statement or mission statement is not necessary on a resume. An employer should be able to understand your capabilities and motives from your experience. Save the personal statement for your cover letter and LinkedIn profile.
Being limited on space, you want to highlight your skills. A personal statement takes up a lot of space on the page and doesn’t really show an employer what you bring to the table.
Don’t put a photo of yourself on a resume. An employer should qualify you as someone they want to interview without knowing what you look like. Besides, they can find your profile on LinkedIn, anyway.
You’re not auditioning for a photoshoot or a model job. A picture is distracting from your skills and experience. So don’t let that be the reason why you don’t get the job.
More Than One Page:
When you’re a new graduate, you probably won’t have that much experience. Your resume at this point should never be longer than one page. Remember to keep it concise. Highlight what’s important. The recruiter will be sifting through hundreds of resumes and doesn’t want to take the time to read through yours if it’s too long.
If your resume goes over one page, then it’s time to cut it back. Really sus out what’s essential information and what isn’t. If you need to, shorten your education section. After you’ve gotten your degree, employers really want to see what kind of practical work experience you’ve had since.