The resume is one of the most invaluable and indispensable tools for any professional repertoire. It not only outlines your career history but acts as a highlight reel to express your value as both a candidate and a potential employee. While a requirement of the modern job search, the actual methodology for its creation is not as straight forward, calling upon various strategic writing in combination with purposeful formatting. So then, what makes a resume truly great?
1. Professional Summary
Would you walk up to a stranger at a cocktail party and immediately start to list off the key details from your professional portfolio? The same question applies when thinking about resume writing and becomes one of the first cornerstones of the document strategy. Most hiring managers will only look at any given resume for a few seconds before moving on to the next on their desks. It’s important in these moments to not only maximize that window, but to create a reason for a second look. The professional summary should serve as an introduction to who you are, where your most desirable skills lie, and what would make you the perfect fit against the hundred other applicants. This section allows for a little more creativity while maintaining your own voice. Think of it as a short paragraph outlining your greatest qualities and how those would directly correlate to the position in question.
2. Show, Don’t Tell
The actual cadence of dictation employed within a resume’s content is different than traditional grammar. While maintaining proper grammatical rules, the sentence structure should be developed in a way that begins in one of two ways; a situation, action, and result, or one that flows from problem, action, and result. This structure ensures that as you create the new document, each sentence will not only explain what you’ve done, but how you brought about the result. It’s easy to say that sales increased, but what sets your strategy apart from candidates X, Y, and Z? Practice writing in this sentence structure until it begins to feel comfortable and fluid.
While there are many components of a great resume, the third major pillar is the formatting itself. As you sift through the pages of the internet, you’ll inevitably come across a myriad of templates, styles, and suggestions on how to make your document stand out. Don’t fall victim to the allure of utilizing flashy colors or designs. While those ultimately might look polished to a degree, the major pitfall is within the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) utilized by the majority of the companies you’ll apply to. These systems organize candidates based on pulling up keywords throughout the document, but various formatting can often throw the system off and create an unintended error. Alternatively, it’s important to eliminate any possibility of hiring manager bias. A clean black and white format without hyperlinks or formats is strongly recommended to maximize your resume.