Ingredients of a Great Resume
Your resume is more than just the jobs you’ve done and positions you’ve held over the years. It is a personalized marketing tool designed to capture the attention of readers to give them a quick rundown of your skills, abilities, and accomplishments. It is what changes their mind from throwing your resume into the recycle bin to them picking up the phone to call you in for an interview. So, what are the ingredients that make a resume great? While we could write a book on the subject (and may do so in the future!) here are some key points to consider.
We’ve seen so many resumes come through that we can say without a doubt that most people don’t have a clue as to how to optimize the impact and readability using proper formatting. The resume needs to be a balanced, neat looking document with the proper usage of bolding, bullet points, titles to separate different features (work experience, education, etc.) while integrating short tables or columns to highlight some quick personal attributes. The position you are looking for along with your work experience will also influence what type of resume format you should be using.
For example, and entry-level recent graduate may put more emphasis on core curriculum, extra-curricular activities, internships, and personal attributes, placing these topics higher on the resume while putting work experience lower as it is likely limited, part-time, or un-related to the position they are applying for. An experienced doctor, however, will likely use a curriculum vitae or CV to showcase their particular career and accomplishments while having less of an emphasis on education.
We suggest that if you are going to write, edit, and format your own resume that you take the time to look at several examples that are coming soon to our website or the numerous templates that are available on our online (or in books) to see what type of format is best suited for your particular situation and also what your job seeking competitors may be doing with their resumes!
We alternately suggest that you speak with a Certified Professional Resume Writer as they will be a great resource, can answer questions and can update your resume if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of researching and writing your own resume.
Pay attention to the numbers! In a sea of words that is a resume it can be incredibly helpful to integrate some numbers as they will stand out and can quickly help guide the reader to key accomplishments. Here are some common positions and types of information you should keep track of:
Keep a working spreadsheet with quantifiable data, achievements, met sales goals, new accounts, size of largest account, % of growth. For example
- Successfully increased gross revenue by 35% resulting in $105,000+ annual growth.
- Met or exceeded 11+ sales goals and was awarded as #1 Salesmen of the Year.
- Closed the largest account in 15-year company history with annual revenue of $37,000.
If you are a manager, assistant manager, shift lead, team lead etc. keep track of how many people you manage, goals met that can be quantified in a % or $ amount, amount of product or inventory you manage.
- Oversaw all functions of staff development for team of 35+ employees; reduced turnover rate from 15% to 7% annually.
- Efficiently managed $1.5M of inventory with a net loss of .5%, a company low.
- Exceeded store sales goal of $750,000 by 5%, a company first.
Keep it Short
Based on the all resumes we’ve been asked to update we can confidently say that your resume is too long! We spend a lot of time culling dull information and needless detail from resumes until we have a concise piece of work that is as short as possible. People are amazed that we can take their 3-4 page resumes and trim it down to 1, maybe 2 pages. It is our finding that if your resume is too long people won’t read it, if it goes into too many un-relatable details people won’t read it. Keep your resume as short as possible, don’t use long sentences or lengthy descriptions. If you are writing your resume try to craft it so that anyone one the street could read it quickly and so that most everything you’ve done would make sense to them. Obviously, there are some professions that would necessitate industry related terminology that may only make sense to a hiring manager within that industry but in general you want to keep your resume short and concise.
While it may be the case in some instances where your resume is merely a formality and your foot is already well inside door, we take the time with our resumes and suggest that you do the same with paying mind to every detail imaginable. This goes for formatting, spacing, overall visual balance, spelling, grammar, punctuation, margins, etc. If you are claiming to be a detail-oriented person on your resume and your resume doesn’t back that up because you’ve been inconsistent with your use of punctuation, you may be really letting yourself down and it may be a reason you are not getting the phone calls for interviews you were hoping for. Read your resume, leave, come back later and read it again. Have a friend or family member read and critique it. Then, read it again! Extensive proofreading will be a huge help and should set you apart from others who don’t take the same time and care.
While it should be easy for anyone to put together a resume that explains their work history, there is a lot more to it. Books, workshops, online tutorials, and professional resume writers have all been borne out of the need to have a great resume to land that new job. This is all the truer today as there seems to be a great deal more competition out there for jobs and that there are many more people hiring a professional for resume writing services. If you are going to write your own resume we hope that you take our experience and suggestions to heart and to not be afraid to contact us at Power Writers USA if you need any help.