WHAT TO KNOW WHEN WRITING YOUR RESUME
Resume writing has changed dramatically since its first introduction in the 1480s. Now, the professional resume serves the purpose as an effective professional marketing tool to help showcase your talents and abilities to prospective employers. Within the resume writing realm exists the presence of ATS, formally known as Applicant Tracking Systems.
ATS is a software application that is now heavily implemented by employers as a method of effectively screening job candidates during the hiring process. ATS helps in proving whether or not candidates are qualified for a role depended on the contents and aspects of their resume such as job relevance, keyword usage, skills, and formatting. Applicant Tracking Systems are reportedly used by over an astounding 98% of Fortune 500 companies, which creates the need for a high-quality, well-written resume.
It is critically important to plan out the direction and content of your resume before you make your first draft and to take your time during the construction of it in order to create a high-quality resume that will give you the best chance at landing an interview. In this article, we’re going to take you step-by-step on how to create an effective resume in our Ultimate Guide to resume writing.
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AVOID USING A TEMPLATE
A long debated matter, as tempting as it is, you should never use a template for the construction of your resume for various reasons. Resume templates interfere with applicant tracking systems and can potentially create bias. Since the key function for applicant tracking systems is to search and find specific keywords before a hiring manager sees the physical format of the resume, it can be proven difficult if the resume is lacking in content.
Here’s more on how using a resume template can hurt your chances at getting hired.
CHOOSE THE APPROPRIATE RESUME LAYOUT
Before writing, you have to know the direction of your resume and how you want your career background and accomplishments to be portrayed. There are three resume formats; Chronological, Functional, and Hybrid.
The chronological formatworks best for those with great job tenure, accomplishments for every position they have held, and those who want to showcase to employers that they have a very strong vertical career progression and have continued to climb the ladder.
The functional format is typically best for those just beginning their careers and want to highlight their education and skills without specifically attaching them to their career accomplishments. This is great for those who have employment gaps and want to mask it in order to get their foot in the door, or those who are attempting to make a significant career change into a different industry and want to focus more on their skillsets rather than work experience.
The hybrid formatis typically only used by experts in their fields. Hybrid resume formatting helps jobseekers showcase that they have an acquired and very particular skillset obtained during a certain position during their career.
WHAT KIND OF LAYOUT SHOULD I USE FOR MY RESUME?
The resume layout is everything when it comes to Applicant Tracking Systems. Before you write a single word on your resume document, it is imperative to make sure to set your margins to 1/2-1” on each side. Decreasing your margins appeals best to employers by freeing up space in the prevention of giving your resume a “crammed” look. The typical standard is to set your margins to 1". However, in cases when you have an abundance of key information that's pertinent to the role you're applying for, it is generally okay to decrease the size of your margins to 1/2". When you do this, be sure to start with decreasing the top and bottom margins of the page before you move to the side margins.
WHAT KIND OF FONT SHOULD I USE FOR MY RESUME?
Font size and style is important in resume writing. Aside from your name in the header, which should be set at a minimum of 18, set the font size of your text between size 10 and 12 as a general rule. As for font style, it is best to avoid using fonts such as Comic Sans, Lucida Console, Brush Script, and any other font that can come off as too complex, widely spaced out, or unprofessional. We recommend choosing from some of the most popular fonts used in resume writing such as Book Antiqua, Calibri, and Garamond.
Using fancy or stylized fonts has the ability to initiate bias. Although many job seekers may see this method as adding flavor and style to your resume writing, this is a method that should be avoided. Aside from personal preference, adding a creative flair to your resume could not only make your writing difficult to read, but it could also interfere with applicant tracking systems (ATS), which ultimately determine whether your resume is good enough or not to be passed onto the hiring manager for further review.
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SHOULD I INCLUDE MY PERSONAL INFORMATION ON MY RESUME?
Now, it’s time to set up the header! Write your name in BOLD, and beneath your name include some key personal information such as your number, email address, and mailing address. You do, after all, want the employer to contact you back! However, be very careful when including some of your personal info.
Including any sensitive personal information could not only mean an instant disqualification from the role, but it doesn’t do you any good in your job search. By including sensitive information such as your age, social security number, driver's license information, marital status, or birth date will leave yourself vulnerable to identity theft and someone having your information in their hands. Don’t include your date of birth, social security number, or anything along that line in your resume.
HOW TO WRITE OUT A RESUME PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY
The professional summary is everything. With the professional summary you set the tone for the remainder of your resume. Look at the professional summary as if it is your sales pitch. What exactly is it that you are skilled with? What are you experienced at doing? Why should an employer hire you? Does your background match? The professional summary should answer all of these questions. Lead in with two to three sentences describing yourself as a professional and try to include as many pertinent keywords as possible. This will immediately signal to the ATS that you possess all of the skills required for the role. Here’s a detailed description that will tell you how to create a professional summary.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR AREAS OF EXPERTISE SECTION
Areas of expertise, or core competencies, are specialized and specific skills that you have developed from your career experience in specific industries. Make a list of the 9-15 skills you depend upon in your daily routine to ensure successful outcomes, pick from the list in order of most relevant to your desired role and include them as bullet points to make up your areas of expertise section. Remember to include these skills consistently throughout your resume. By articulating the persistent prevalence of these areas of expertise, you will optimize the credibility of your accomplishments, descriptions, and growth; consequently, you will also exponentially increase the impact of your executive-level resume.
HOW TO SET UP WORK HISTORY ON YOUR RESUME
The moment we all dread the most… your work history. Asked for on applications, yet again asked for on your resume. Redundant right? Maybe, but there is a reason or this! Applications need to see your entire work history for background checks and verification purposes. However, on the actual resume itself, you have to be strategic in what information you include to pass the ATS and intrigue the hiring manager.
Resumes need to be crafted in a way to market your skills and accomplishments to employers in contrast to just showing your work history. You do this by instead of listing your entire work history (not ideal for the job hoppers due to the fact that this list could be very lengthy), include your most relevant work experience that’s most relevant to the role you’re applying for. Be sure to add keywords and key phrases in your writing and focus on writing accomplishments rather than job responsibilities, which can be simply Google searched by an employer. The key is to separate yourself from your competitors, and this is a strategic way to do exactly that.
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HOW TO INCLUDE YOUR EDUCATION, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT & CERTIFICATIONS ON YOUR RESUME
It is extremely important to include your education in your resume as it is nearly impossible to land a role without it. Having a certain level of education typically serves as a minimum qualification for most roles. Having your education listed doesn’t only help serve the purpose of a qualification, though! It shows your worth as a potential employee as you’ll be most likely to advance into a higher-level management or executive role later down the line because of your educational credentials.
Along with your education, highlight your certifications, proficiencies, professional courses, and awards if applicable. This is often an overlooked area of the resume. This information helps highlight your attributes as well as bolster the search engine optimization of the document too. Hiring managers really want to invest in employees who will continue to better themselves in order to better the company, which speaks to the importance of professional courses and certifications you've obtained during your career.
CONDENSE YOUR RESUME
If you have less than 10 years of experience in a specific field, it is best that you keep your resume to one page, as not doing so can quickly eliminate you from the candidate pool. After you’ve taken all the steps in this guide, go back and cut some information down if your content runs over a page. A one-page resume allows for an expeditious hiring process and lessens the amount recruiters and hiring managers have to read. A one-page, 400-word resume according to researchers has the best chance of intriguing hiring managers to read your content by presenting an ideal balance of content, keyword density, and aesthetic appeal.
You also must realize that keeping your resume condensed to one page is great in avoiding the possibility of annoying recruiters and hiring managers. Many hiring managers prefer to work less in their search for a quick, efficient hire, and having two pages worth of information in your resume could very well eliminate you from most positions. So be sure to keep your resume at a short, readable length.
... LASTLY, SAVE YOUR RESUME AS A PDF!
As a resume writing best practice, ALWAYS send your resume as a PDF unless directed otherwise. This is very important, as sending your resume as a PDF keeps your format solid when sending out to employers. An employer could potentially be using a type of software where it doesn’t accept certain file formats so well. A PDF will remain consistent no matter what software the company has implemented.