It’s off to work we go! Or at least it will be as soon as that job calls back with the offer. But before that call comes in, there are a few important steps. The first being the ever-dreaded résumé. For students in school or just graduating, creating a résumé is an essential step to getting the job.
Potential employers look at résumés to find employees who will have the experience necessary to perform in the job and be a good fit for the company.
But what makes a good résumé that will give you a better chance at getting that job? Here are a few basic tips.
1. Keep It Concise: Advice will vary on just how long your résumé should be, but most will say a single page, especially at the beginning of your career. Most importantly, get rid of anything you don’t need, make sure everything on the résumé serves a purpose. Keep bullet points to six relevant points per job at most.
2. Use Target Words: Read through that job listing. Then read through it again. Which words are they using? Adapt your own résumé to use those words. Many companies now use ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) to scan résumés and filter out those that don’t match the criteria. These are the words they’ll be looking for. Remember, you don’t want a cookie cutter résumé; tailor a résumé to the job you’re applying for.
3. Organize: What goes first? How should it be formatted? These are questions that plague first-time résumé writers everywhere. As a rule of thumb, if you have a lot of work experience, list employment history first and list it in reverse chronological order. For those still in or right out of school, education comes first. Don’t be afraid to describe relevant coursework and classes the same way you’d describe an employment experience.
4. Include Variety: Don’t limit the points on the résumé to work and school. Include volunteer work, useful memberships, applicable licenses and certifications, relevant awards, and hobbies or interests that fit the company culture of the company you’re applying to.
5. Make It Professional: Don’t use a casual- or informal-looking email! Create an email that is professional. One common format is email@example.com. Save your document as either a PDF or a .docx (not .doc) file—though PDF is preferred—for easier sharing. Name your résumé properly. Do not use a casual title such as “résumé” or “name’s résumé.” Remember, it’s important to tailor your résumé; make it clear that this résumé is for this job. For example, “John Smith’s Content Editor Résumé.”
6. Proofread: Proofread, proofread, proofread. Yes, more than once. If you can, get someone else to proofread as well. There are few things that will make you look less professional than a résumé littered with typos and mistakes. Proofreading will be your best friend.
7. Go Beyond the Résumé: Write a cover letter, connect to professional online media such as LinkedIn, link to online portfolios where the recruiter can see your relevant work. The résumé is only one piece of the puzzle; these additional elements might very well give you the edge you need to get the job you want.
Getting the résumé right is a critical part of the job-hunting process. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and difficult. There’s nothing holding you back!
Still overwhelmed? Don’t be afraid to take a look for free resume templates online to get started. Whether you want to use them as it is or simply to gain inspiration from while you make your own, they’re there to help! Just make sure to keep these seven tips in mind!
Kuligowski, Kiely. “Resume Writing Tips: Make Your Resume Stand Out.” Business News Daily, February 21, 2023. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3207-resume-writing-tips.html.
Nazaruk, Aleksandra. “50 Best Resume Tips 2023: Great Tricks and Writing Advice.” zety, June 21, 2023. https://zety.com/blog/resume-tips.
The Muse Editors. “43 Best Resume Tips for 2023.” The Muse, February 3, 2023. https://www.themuse.com/advice/43-resume-tips-that-will-help-you-get-hired.