Your resume is one of the most essential documents you’ll create in your job search. It’s your first impression with employers and deciding whether you’ll move forward in the hiring process. With so much riding on your resume, crafting one that stands out is crucial.
As an expert resume writer with over ten years of experience, I’ve reviewed thousands of resumes across all industries. I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, and what catches a hiring manager’s eye. I’ll share my top tips for creating a winning interview resume in this article.
Focus on Relevance
The purpose of your resume is to showcase how your background directly relates to the job you’re applying for. Before writing your resume, carefully read the job description and highlight all required and preferred skills. Think about how your experience, education, and accomplishments align with what the employer is looking for.
Craft your resume to focus on showcasing the relevant qualifications. For example, if the job requires financial analysis skills, provide specifics about analyses you’ve conducted. If it asks for experience with a specific software, explain your expertise with that program.
Customising your resume for each application allows irrelevant information to dilute what’s most important. The hiring manager will immediately see how you’re a strong match.
Lead with a Strong Resume Summary
Your resume (profile or professional summary) comes first under your contact information. It’s a short paragraph highlighting your most relevant accomplishments, skills, years of experience, and specialties. This section hooks the hiring manager and convinces them to read further.
An impactful summary should be concise and descriptive. Quantify achievements when possible.
For example, state how you “increased sales by 30% from 2015-2017” instead of vaguely saying you “increased sales.”
Avoid generic, overused statements like “results-driven professional.” Summarise why you’re an excellent fit for this role in particular versus general capabilities.
Use Strategic Resume Formatting
Proper formatting enhances the scannability and readability of your resume. Here are essential formatting tips:
List experiences under each company in reverse chronological order. Start with your most recent position and go backwards from there. This shows logical progression throughout your career.
Present each experience in the same structure and style. For example, start with job title, company name, and employment dates on one line. Follow with bulleted responsibilities and achievements.
Use consistent heading styles for each resume section. Typical sections include Summary, Work Experience, Skills, Education, Certifications, and Languages.
Include ample white space between sections and lines. Avoid dense blocks of text. Proper spacing creates visual breathing room.
Use standard fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Cambria in 11 or 12-point size. Avoid stylised, unprofessional fonts.
For most professionals, keep your resume concise at 1-2 pages. Senior leaders with extensive experience may opt for 2-3 pages.
Any claims you make about your accomplishments should be quantified with numbers or specifics. This applies to your entire resume, but especially your work history.
Instead of “Improved sales results,” say, “Increased sales by 30% over two years by cold calling 50 prospective clients per week.” The difference is stark. Quantification proves the scope of your achievements.
Ways to quantify:
- Dollar amounts (increased revenue, saved costs)
- Percentages (increased efficiency by 50%)
- Numbers (contacted 100+ clients per week)
- Time frames (cut costs by 20% within six months)
Data tells a compelling story about your impact. Hiring managers immediately recognise your value.
Optimise with keywords
Most large organisations use Applicant Tracking Systems to screen resumes before human review. These ATS scan for job-related keywords from the posting.
Optimising your resume with relevant keywords will ensure you pass automated screening. To identify keywords:
- Analyse the job posting to pinpoint hard and soft skills, job duties, qualifications, and technical terms.
- Work these keywords naturally into your resume.
- Just be sure to force-fit only a few.
You can also optimise your resume with keywords commonly sought for your target job title. Check out resources like LinkedIn’s job search and Glassdoor to research popular keywords.
Showcase the Right Content
Besides your career history, what other content should cut your resume? Include elements most relevant to your target job and industry.
- Technical Skills: Computer skills, software, programming languages, and tools you’re skilled with.
- Specialised Knowledge: Terminology, systems, and processes required in your field.
- Licenses/Certifications: Required professional credentials and licenses (PMP, CPA).
- Language Skills: Fluency in other languages is valuable for the role.
- Leadership: Include leadership skills and functions that show management abilities.
Keep your resume tailored. Add supplemental sections only if they directly strengthen your candidacy.
Typos or grammatical errors should disqualify any professional resume. Proofread your resume repeatedly before sending it. Read backwards line-by-line to spot errors. Ask a friend to review as a second set of eyes.
Incorrect details also demonstrate carelessness. Verify that:
- All company names, job titles, and dates employed are accurate.
- The numbers and stats cited are correct.
- Contact info is up-to-date.
- There are no spelling errors, including people’s names.
Submit a pristine document that instils confidence in your abilities. Sloppiness reflects poorly.
The Resume Design Matters, Too
Along with stellar content, resume design plays a role in getting noticed. While structure is secondary to the quality of your qualifications, a visually appealing resume is easier to read and more memorable.
Some design tips:
- Structure: Headings, spacing, and bullet points create a visual hierarchy, guiding the eye through the details.
- Clarity: Use simple, uncluttered fonts. Avoid hard-to-read stylised fonts.
- White Space: Blank space prevents a cluttered look and enhances scannability.
- Visuals: Charts or graphs displaying key achievements draw attention.
- Style: Conservative, standard resume designs are ideal for most fields. Creative industries have more leeway for unique visual expression. Know what’s acceptable in your profession.
While resume content is most critical, a great design optimises visibility. A resume writer can craft both content and plan for maximum impact.
Track Your Resume’s Success
Once you send your polished new resume to apply for jobs, track which versions and techniques produce the best results.
Note which resumes generate more interview opportunities and learn what those successful resumes have in common. See if specific sections or wording resonate with employers in your industry.
Constantly refine your resume as you gather feedback from the job search process. Adapt it to perform better and better over time. Resume writing is never static. The best resumes evolve as your career develops.
Partner with a Professional Resume Writer
While you can certainly develop an effective DIY resume from these tips, partnering with a professional resume writer takes your resume to the highest level. Investing in an expert resume writer is worth the cost.
Here are the benefits of working with a pro:
- Professional Expertise: A career resume writer intimately understands what works across all industries and markets. They stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices. Their expertise in strategically highlighting your most relevant skills and accomplishments will give you a significant edge.
- Objective Guidance: A resume writer reviews your experience and credentials unbiasedly. This allows you to look at your true differentiators. They’ll identify skills you may take for granted.
- Saves You Time: Crafting the perfect resume is hugely time-intensive. Offloading this time sink frees up your schedule for more important tasks…or leisure!
- Market Exposure: Top resume writers have relationships with recruiters and hiring managers. Your resume may get directed exposure to the right people.
Investing in a professionally written resume offers tremendous ROI for your career goals.
You’re Ready for Resume Success!
With an understanding of what makes an exceptional and results-driven resume, you know how to create an impressive document that will propel your candidacy forward. Use these insider tips from an expert resume writer to craft a resume that converts to interviews and catapults your career potential. Happy resume writing!