Have you ever been tempted to buy a resume template off of Etsy? Or maybe go to Canva to get a resume template for that job you want?
No worries, all of us at some point have thought of doing both, I know I did when I was first starting and I did not know a thing about the job search or what a resume was.
Well, since it was brought up…
What is a resume?
According to Investopedia, a resume is a document that job applicants use to summarize their work experience, educational background, and special skills.
It technically tells the prospective employer if you are qualified for the job and if you are on your resume when you will hopefully be invited into a job interview.
Here is the thing: the reason why Etsy and Canva were brought up so early on in this blog post is that your resume does not need to be pretty, it needs to be effective.
It needs to get the job done to land you interviews.
If you are ready to learn how to write a resume that gets you hired, you are in the right place.
If you are like any other traditional job applicant and are using an online forum to find jobs, a resume will undoubtedly be the most important document you will have to write to get you started in the job searching process.
A well-written resume needs to highlight the most relevant and impressive qualities, accomplishments, impact, and qualifications to be considered for an interview.
Before we continue, I have to add that this post is specifically to address the job search process in the US, resumes are different in different areas of the world. And this is also to answer directly to those wanting to break into corporate America.
Here is what you will learn after reading this guide:
- How to quantify your accomplishments using the famous “Google’s XYZ” formula
- Ensure your resume is going to be “ATS friendly” with the keyword and phrases needed to stand out
- Learn what important experience needs to be included in your resume
- How to craft an excellent highlight section to wow the recruiters after only 5 seconds
- What type of skills should you add to your resume
First things first, let’s chat about the main components of your resume (aside from the contact information the order in which you choose to place these components in your resume will depend on your level of experience and seniority or stage you are in your career, i.e. industry changes, graduation recency, relevant experience, etc.)
Contact information – this should be the first thing the recruiter sees and it needs to have the following information:
- Full name
- Contact information (email, phone number, LinkedIn URL)
- City of residence
Education – This is for those who have an education at any level, certifications, or any professional training attained in a formal education setting. If you are a recent graduate (3yrs or less) you should have this at the top of the resume right after your contact information.
Here you should include the name of the institution, area of study, and special recognitions. If you’d like, you can keep the graduation date off your resume because that can tend to age discrimination.
Executive Summary – this is optional, but it can be impactful for those with more experience, looking to change industries or careers, and would like to highlight. Studies have shown that the first thing the recruiter’s eye catches is the top center part of the resume, which happens to be where the summary would be. This section (if you decide to use it) needs to show your most valuable and recent career accomplishments. Keep it between 2-4 sentences. Make sure it clearly states the results you have provided a company with your skill set.
Professional Experience – Relevant job experience is the meat and potatoes of your resume, and it is arguably the part that gets you the attention you need to land a job interview. So this is going to be especially important that you get it right. This section should be listed in chronological order and be sure to have the bullets listed in the order of importance.
Most job descriptions list their duties with the top 3-5 being the most important responsibilities that the hiring manager considers to be the most critical. You want the resume to reflect the same. Stay away from listing tasks, you should concentrate on providing a results-driven overview. This section needs to also show the impact you have had while performing your duties at work, and the way you can do that is by providing data and metrics that can be easily measured.
Now, I might have gotten lost there, but this is where the easy XYZ formula comes in handy. This is a formula that was created and revealed by Google, you can read the article by visiting careers.google.com/how-we-hire
Essentially, they say this: “Be specific about projects you’ve worked on or managed. What was the outcome? How did you measure success? When in doubt, lean on the formula, “accomplished [X] as measured by [Y], by doing [Z].”
My rule of thumb is that if you can’t formulate your bullet like this one you need to start over. Don’t leave any of your experiences to chance. This is the exact formula I use to coach my clients and the one that helped me land a job in a FAANG company. So it WORKS!!!!
Skills – Competencies and technical skills should go hand-in-hand with your executive summary. Expertise and knowledge can be shown here in a bullet point format.
- Employee Relations
- Change management
- ADP payroll
Be sure to correlate these to match the job posting’s keywords. Remember that often the recruiter is specifically looking for those hard skills first before assessing if they should call you for a job interview. Therefore, you need to be vigilant about this piece just like you were in your experience section.
Languages/Accomplishments – this is also going to be on an individual basis and will also be your choice. Accomplishments can be a powerful way to showcase a good review you received from your manager OR an excellent opportunity to highlight the project you are the proudest of. Languages can also be impactful and should always be included if the role requires it. Note that if you are stating that you are proficient in a particular language the interviewer might ask you to demonstrate it, so ensure you can hold a professional conversation in that language.
Now that you have the main components of a basic resume
Rapid Fire Must Do – Here are some useful and simple things you should add or have in your resume for ultimate results:
- Add facts and data (quantify your accomplishments) *go back to the XYZ formula
- Use consistent format by using the same fonts and layout throughout
- Use chronological order for your experience
- If you get stuck or have issues coming up with metrics or examples that show impact, you can try thinking back on your professional experience, and use the STAR method when writing out projects or what I like to call “career stories”
- S – situation
- T – task at hand
- A – action taken
- R – results
Now, let’s talk about what not to include in your resume. It is important to know what to add to your resume but it is also important to understand the things that might be outdated and or unnecessary to add to your resume.
- Your full address – is not a necessary part of your resume. Also, think of the privacy issues; when you are sending your resume to strangers on the internet you don’t want them to have your full address.
- Objective statements – are also super outdated because they technically do not add any value to your resume. It only points to things you wish to obtain, which is great but it does not increase your chances of getting a job just because you are saying you want it.
- Soft skills – this is probably one of the most continuous offenses I see on resumes, and it is not that they are not valuable, but leaving them in your resume as a one-off does not provide the impact you have had in your role. There are ways to implement soft skills in your resume that say you are a “team player” without having to type those words exactly. Here is an example of what a bullet point would look like if you were to want to showcase you were a team player:
- Managed and coordinated 5 revenue impact projects while working cross-functionally with 8 different departments
- Spelling and grammar – you want to ensure you leave a good impression, your resume is your first chance to do that. If you send in a resume that has grammatical errors or mistakes, that will make you look like you are careless or not very good at attention to detail. This is why I advise my clients to be strategic with their search, because the fewer yet more strategic jobs you apply for, the more time you have to be intentional leaving the least room for error.
- References upon request – this is another outdated resume practice that should be removed. Recruiters and hiring managers assume you will give them references if they request. Keep in mind that a lot of companies are moving away from requiring references because you are likely to provide someone that could only write positive things about you, for good reason, and so the data they obtain turns out to not be as valuable or useful. Remember your resume is precious real estate and you should treat it as such.
- Using passive language – Be sure to use action verbs instead of passive language in your resume. I tend to use a lot of passive verbs because I am bilingual, and while I translate things in my head as I write them, they often do come off that way. Don’t worry, in this guide I have also included a list of action verbs you can use in case you need inspiration.
RAPID FIRE mistakes to avoid
Poor attention to detail – mistakes, typos, grammatical errors, etc.
How to combat that: my biggest advice here is to have different people take a look at your resume and ask them to spell check your resume.
Too long of a resume – yes, the length should not matter, but we have a problem when applicants send out 10pg resumes.
How to combat that: only leave the most relevant information/experience in the resume that will answer directly to the role you are applying to. Decrease the margins and use smaller fonts.
Now, the moment you have been waiting for, here is a sneak peek of the resume template you will get, all you have to do is download it using this link, be sure to make a copy before you make any changes.
What frustrates you the most about writing resumes? What do you wish to know about the hiring process? Ask away in the comments below.
There is also a handy guide attached when you download the resume.
Best of luck in your job search, you got this!!!!!
I hope this blog post serves you well, it talked about the tips on how to write a resume, and it also explained what is a resume, with this post you will be able to learn how to write a resume for the first time, and most importantly it covered resume writing tips and samples.