Kristen Bahler from Time magazine notes that when it comes to resume writing, despite changing trends, “crisp writing and brevity still reign supreme.” And with the booming job market of 2017, everyone must try to stand out. By following Bahler’s tips you can start your path to landing your next interview—you might even pave the way to your future job.
1. Pay Attention to Format
Putting thought into the presentation proves to be important, says Bahler. “What you want,” she explains, “is a balance—a smooth, clear look that’s got just enough panache to stand out.” By playing with font styles (it turns out you don’t always have to use Times New Roman) or adding a small pop of color, you can achieve such a look.
2. Make the Top Count
Bahler quotes career coach Jennifer Braganza, who stated, “The top one-third of your resume is what a recruiter or hiring manager scans to determine if they will read the rest…and they only give it three seconds.” Thus, yours should be an attention grabber. Highlight samples of your work through LinkedIn or a personal website, and be sure to add your phone number and email address (Bahler adds that, to appear more professional, try to use up-to-date email sites, such as Gmail, rather than the more outdated Hotmail or AOL).
3. Promote Your Brand
If you’ve still got an objective section underneath your header, dump it. Replace this section with a qualification summary to highlight what you can’t afford a potential employer to miss: it’s essentially a high-level overview of your candidacy. Professional resume writer Laurie J. James says that this should also parallel the “Summary” section on your LinkedIn page, which serves as a virtual resume. In both places, you’ll want language that calls out some of the achievements and attributes that make you most valuable to an employer.
4. Emphasize Key Skills
No job listing is the same. According to Bahler, you must tailor this section to emphasize the skills that make the most sense for each job listing. Applicant tracking systems, or the software used to scan resumes, look for relevant keywords to move a candidate forward, so you must identify phrases from the job posting and mirror them on your resume. Additionally, Bahler adds, delete overused phrases like “quick learner,” “hard worker,” or ”great attitude”—these wildly overused phrases do not set anyone apart in the application process. Instead, sub in a list of hard skills (distinguishable technology and social media knowledge is particularly relevant in today’s job market, but this does not include the Microsoft Office suite).
5. Highlight Performance
Don’t make hiring managers hunt for your achievements, Bahler says; instead, pull out a standalone summary of what you’ve accomplished. This is another place where you want to tailor the mix of awards and benchmarks to a job you’re applying for. If you were promoted, why? If you saved your department money, how much? Did you successfully lead a high-stakes project? How? If you’re having trouble populating this section, look to past performance reviews for ideas. What have your bosses and coworkers said that you do better than anyone else? Differentiate this section from the summary at the top by focusing on quantifiable evidence.
6. Show Key Work Metrics
When you get to your work experience, don’t just list titles and dates. Use a few lines of text to weave a story for hiring managers. When did you change industries? Why were you promoted? Where do you aim to go next? Then, use bullet points to back your claims with relevant facts and figures. Statistics are an easy way to prove you did more than the job description demanded.
7. Control Your Timeline
Omit experience that dates back further than 10 years unless it’s essential to your narrative. Your resume is a selection of your most recent, relevant work history, so if you’re anything beyond an entry-level employee, your internships and other early jobs are taking up valuable space.