How to write a killer resume: 10 tips to get the response you want
Is your resumé falling flat? Are you not getting the response you thought you would? Check out these 10 tips for taking a resumé from lacklustre to truly killer!
List your accomplishments, not your duties
One of the most important things that you can do is to write your resumé in a way that highlights your accomplishments instead of your duties. The best way to do this is to summarize the results of your daily work rather than listing your daily tasks.
For example, don’t write that you swept floors, straightened out displays and answered shoppers’ questions. Instead, write that you were in charge with providing retail customers with a great customer experience. Here are a few tips:
- Duties that involve cleaning or light maintenance can be summarized as ensuring a clean and safe environment, and keeping in compliance with safety regulations.
- Answering the phone, assisting customers and helping consumers complete their purchases can be summarized as providing great first level customer service.
- Clerical and administrative duties can be summarized as supporting the daily operations of your department.
If you want to demonstrate that you used certain equipment, applied specific technical expertise, and so on, the best place to get into those details is in the skills section of your resumé.
Use the right keywords
Keep in mind that most hiring managers rarely read your resumé; instead, they scan through it in search of certain elements. They may look for company names and which schools you attended, for example. One thing they always scan for are relevant keywords.
Keywords are words and phrases in your resumé that stand out and make it clear that you have the experience and qualifications they are looking for. The best place to find keywords is in the job listing itself. Here is an example of a very brief job listing.
Junior Software Developer
Seeking an entry-level software developer. Must understand Java and C#. Previous experience in help desk or technical support required. Candidates who have any experience in the financial sector will be given preference.
Reading this job description, you can pull out several keywords. All you have to do is identify the major requirements. These are: Java, C#, financial sector, help desk and customer support.
If these words and phrases are in your resumé, there’s a good chance you will get the attention of the hiring manager. You can also pull keywords from current articles related to your industry. Remember to apply a bit of common sense. In this example, “financial sector” is pretty flexible. You could effectively use words such as banking, finance or investment as substitutes if they apply.
How important is it to include the right keywords on your resumé? Many companies have begun using special software to scan the resumés that they receive. If your resumé doesn’t have the right keywords, it will be discarded before it ever reaches a human being.
Make it easy on the eyes
Even if the company does use scanning software, by the time a hiring manager gets your resumé, they may have read through dozens of others. One way to make a killer resumé is to ensure that it doesn’t induce eyestrain.
Format your resumé so that it contains plenty of white space. Choose a font without serifs so it is easy to read. Use bold print to highlight important pieces of information. Break things down into lists and bullet points. By doing these things you will accomplish two things: you will make it easier for someone to get the information they are looking for, and you’ll also make your resumé aesthetically pleasing.
Show your work
If you check out great resumé samples, one thing you may notice is that many of the statements are quantified. Basically, claims made are backed with numbers or other proof. Use statistics. Mention things that can be proven using a Google search, for example.
Instead of saying that you successfully increased sales, share how much you increased sales using a percentage or dollar amount. Include a period of time to add more impact. If you’ve won an award, share the name of the award and the organization that presented it to you. Have you been published? Share the name of the publication! Doing these things adds credibility to your resumé.
Polish it off with great editing
Never submit your resumé as is. Make sure it is polished and professional so edit it carefully before you let anyone see it. Don’t rely on your word processor’s standard spelling and grammar checking tool. Use Grammarly or another online tool that adds an additional layer of quality assurance. Ask a friend to look over your resumé as well. Ask them if they can easily tell what your qualifications are, or the type of job you are seeking?
Remember that poor spelling and grammar will likely get your resumé discarded almost immediately. Pay close attention to detail, and ensure that even the smallest errors are corrected.
Customize your resumé
Never send the same resumé for every job opening. Instead, tailor each one so that it matches the job requirements and company culture as much as possible. To do this, read each job listing carefully. Then, research the company itself. Learn what the organization is like, and what the work environment is. Use websites such as GlassDoor to get insights from both current and former employees.
Remember the rule of primacy and recency
The rule of primacy and recency is that people will best remember the first thing and last thing that they see. Marketers use this rule when they write advertising copy. You can apply this rule as well. Begin and end your resumé with something impactful.
Next, consider this rule for each section of your resumé. For the skills portion of your resumé, for example, list your most important skills at the beginning and end.
Dump your objective statement
Speaking of primacy, including an objective on a resumé is passé and unhelpful. If you are unsure of how to begin a resumé without an objective, compose a brief personal statement. This lead-in will tell the person reading your resumé exactly what you have to offer.
Consider the following resumé objective statement:
Seeking a position in the consumer mortgage department of a bank that will eventually lead to a vice presidency.
Now, take a look at a personal statement:
Finance graduate with three years’ experience in mortgage loan processing seeks an opportunity to bring my customer service skills and abilities to a great, community bank.
The difference between the two statements is subtle yet simple. The objective talks about what you are looking for. The personal statement explains what you bring to the table. A personal statement can also show a bit of personality. If you were an employer, which would you rather see?
Don’t go too far back
If you are a recent college graduate seeking your first career position, it is expected that you will include the part-time jobs you held during school. You’ll also include internships, research work, etc. However, if you have been in your field for a while, you should probably edit out jobs that you held years ago that are not relevant to your current career.
Link to relevant social media accounts
You may have been advised to hide or sanitize your social media accounts when you begin submitting your resumé. This is a good idea, but don’t dismiss the positive impact that your professional, social media presence can have. If you have a blog related to your profession or other social media pages, link to them along with your other contact information. By doing this, you show that you are professionally connected and in tune with your industry.
Find free sample resumés here.
Veronica Wright, a career coach and employment advisor from Resumes Centre, is a pro with the stories of customers’ success in more than 80 countries of the world. Check out
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