The Keys To A Great Resume

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Shorter Version


Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Having a top-notch resume on hand is necessary not only while you’re in your 20s. You need this for life. When it comes to getting a job, your resume is the golden ticket that will get you in the door for an interview.

Regardless of your industry or field, you can have an all-star resume. It just takes effort, time, and patience. Though it can be overwhelming to tackle this area of the job hunt, the most important thing in building your resume is to take it one step at a time.

Quick start

  • Shift your mindset: According to Glassdoor, it is a great idea to think of your resume as a marketing tool.
  • Use keywords: Tailor the resume to each specific job by using keywords from the job description to help you get past applicant tracking systems.
  • Readability: Make the resume uncluttered, easily readable, and to the point.
  • Use power verbs: Action verbs are your best friend and will help you sell yourself!
  • Framing it: Focus on your accomplishments rather than your responsibilities.
  • Quantify your achievements: When possible, use numbers to quantify your achievements when describing your role and responsibilities.
  • Organization: Organize your experiences in reverse chronological order and put the most essential information first.
  • Keep it short and sweet: Limit your resume to one or two pages, and eliminate irrelevant information.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread: I’m not talking about a quick skim here. Review and proofread your resume multiple times before submitting it.
  • Ask for help: There is NO shame in getting professional help with resume writing.

You have all the resources you need to create an all-star resume! But in order to stand out from the competition and secure the interview, significant time and effort are required. Take it one step at a time, do some research, ask for help, and get ready to rock those interviews!

Skip to Actionable Steps




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Longer Version


Est. Reading Time: 5 Minutes

When it comes to getting a job, your resume is the golden ticket that will get you in the door for an interview. Having a top-notch resume on hand is necessary not only while you’re in your 20’s – you need this for life.

The good news

Whether you are starting from scratch or updating your existing document you can have an all-star resume. With or without a college degree you can have an all-star resume. With or without five years of applicable industry experience you can have an all-star resume.

Regardless of your industry or field, you can have an all-star resume. It just takes effort, time, and patience.

Creating your resume for the first time or even just updating it might feel like an incredibly daunting task. With countless templates to choose from and endless opinions on what makes a resume good versus great, it can be overwhelming to tackle this area of the job hunt. The most important thing in building your resume is to take it one step at a time. This article will provide the keys to a great resume, as well as numerous resource recommendations (resume samples, action verb lists, etc.) to help you take your resume to the next level and secure that interview and future dream job.

The keys to properly showcasing your awesomeness

Shift your mindset

According to Glassdoor, it is a great idea to think of your resume as a marketing tool. Rather than thinking of it as a concise summary of your work experience, shift your mindset and think of it instead as a “strategic tool for marketing your individual brand.” As a whole, your resume should tell a story and paint a clear picture of who you are and what you can offer.

Keywords

Tailor the resume to each specific job by using keywords from the job description. This is KEY to making it past the Human Resources department and in the door for an interview. Though it might be tempting to save time, you cannot treat resumes with the one size fits all approach. To clarify, it is much harder to successfully land job interviews if you send the same document out to the masses in hopes of getting someone to bite. You need to prove to each individual employer that you are perfect for that specific job. Indeed provides a great example of this.

Say you are applying for a job as a Medical Billing Coder. Pay particular attention to anything listed in the sections labeled “Requirements” or “Qualifications.” For this job, an employer might list keywords such as “coding,” “claims submission,” “compliance,” or “AR management” in the job description. If none of the words on your resume match with the “Requirements” or “Qualifications” from the job description, it might be extremely challenging for you to land an interview. The more your prior experience aligns with the job description, the more evident it will be that you are a perfect fit for the position. Though making these adjustments on your resume for each application takes time, it will make all the difference in whether or not you get offered an interview.

Readability

Make the resume uncluttered, easily readable, and to the point. Keep in mind, recruiters and hiring committees will likely only scan your resume and spend no more than 6 seconds reading it (harsh truth, I know) so it is imperative that they can get the gist quickly. It’s great if your resume stands out, but you don’t want it to be overly funky that it’s hard to read. Use a professional font and appropriate margins, and look up examples of resumes from your industry for inspiration. You can find some fantastic resume samples from Indeed here.

Keep in mind that using resume samples is not meant to be copied as a template.

Use power verbs

Action verbs are your best friend and will help you sell yourself! Starting each sentence with strong, proactive action verbs will set you apart. Find some great examples here.

Framing it

Focus on your accomplishments rather than your responsibilities; frame each role so you are highlighting your accomplishments. If each role reads like a job description, then you will not stand out and make a lasting impression on paper.

Quantify your achievements

When possible, use numbers to quantify your achievements when describing your role and responsibilities. This is important because it makes your accomplishment concrete and specific. Simply describing a job function or duty can often come across as vague. Glassdoor provided a great example:

Consider these two statements for an account manager: “Handled accounts for public relations firm.” “Managed 10 accounts in excess of $5 million annually and came in under budget by 10 percent.” As you can see, the second statement is showcasing this individual’s skills in a much more impressive manner. Any way that you can make your experiences measurable and prove that you mastered that skill is going to work more in your favor.

Organization

Organize your experiences in reverse chronological order and put the most essential information first. This way, employers can efficiently understand your career progression. Don’t forget to clearly list how long you were in each position, as well as the city and state where the position is/was located. If you have recently graduated from college then it is great to showcase your “Education” section up at the top. Otherwise, it is recommended to list your “Experience” first and move “Education” lower.

Keep it short and sweet

Limit your resume to one or two pages, and eliminate irrelevant information – short and sweet is imperative! Again, employers are only skimming this so you want to be extremely efficient with your words. A great way to help cut down is by eliminating old jobs or accomplishments that are not relevant or applicable to the specific job you are applying for. For example, as cool as your high school awards and summer jobs were back in the day, it is probably appropriate to leave them off your resume if you have graduated from college.

Proofread, proofread, proofread

I’m not talking about a quick skim here; review and proofread your resume multiple times before submitting it. Especially with current technology, there is no excuse for spelling and/or grammatical errors. Sometimes a simple oversight like this can cost you the job; don’t let it! These things are completely avoidable just by taking your time and proofreading. After you have proofread it yourself, ask others to take a look as well. Ask your coaches in the field, friends, and family to take a look at it just for some extra pairs of eyes. This brings me to my next point…

Ask for help

There is NO shame in getting professional help with resume writing. If you are pursuing a career change, have a gap in employment, or just need a fresh and professional perspective, hiring outside help to ramp up your resume can be a wonderful investment. Not only will it produce an awesome product, but it will likely save you lots of time and energy as well.

To sum it all up

You have all the resources you need to create an all-star resume! But in order to stand out from the competition and secure the interview, significant time and effort are required. Take it one step at a time, do some research, ask for help, and get ready to rock those interviews!

Regardless of your industry or field, you can have an all-star resume. It just takes effort, time, and patience.

Actionable Steps


1

Take it one step at a time

Though it can be overwhelming to tackle this area of the job hunt, the most important thing in building your resume is to be patient and take the time necessary to get your resume to the all-star level.

2

Be willing to put in the effort

Your resume is a marketing tool and takes time and effort to create. A one size fits all approach is not necessarily going to get you the interview, so tailor the resume to each specific job by using keywords from the job description.

3

Do your research

Look up resume samples, research awesome action verbs, and study the job description so your resume can convince the employer that you are a perfect fit for the position.

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About the Author


Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has coached hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
Full Bio | LinkedIn


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