Real-world resume advice for job seekers
Your resume isn’t just a formality. It’s a marketing tool to sell yourself, your skills, your strengths and accomplishments.
Employers and recruiters use resumes as a pre-screening tool. They spend less than 30 seconds looking at each resume. You need to stand out in that short time. Sell them on why you’re the solution to the problems they’re having and don’t give them any reason to eliminate you before they meet you.
- Sell your accomplishments.
- Don’t just describe what you did at each job. When an employer is hiring for a certain position, most of the applicants will have the same work experience, so all the job descriptions look the same. Instead, focus on what you accomplished at each job. Use quantitative info whenever possible. If you reduced turnover rate, by how much?
- Include keywords.
- Read the job description carefully. Pull out keywords you can tell the employer is looking for, and include them in your resume. Many recruiters use automated systems to filter resumes, and those systems might eliminate resumes that don’t contain certain keywords.
- Make it skimmable.
- Remember, the recruiter is spending less than 30 seconds on your resume. It needs to be clear, concise and easy to read. Full sentences should be kept to a minimum. You can have 1-2 sentences at top of each job description talking about your accomplishments, then go into bullet points.
- Lead with the important information. Accomplishments go before job description.
- If you have irrelevant job experience that the recruiter won’t care about, move that to a small section for unrelated work experience, where you can list that job history without describing each job.
- Choose the right style of resume.
- Chronological Resume: Gives your work history in chronological order. It’s the most typical style and is great if you haven’t had any gaps in employment history. Click for an example.
- Functional Resume: Organized by skills. Employers don’t like this style because they know it’s used to cover gaps in employment, but it’s still a good option if you need to cover a gap. If you’re re-entering the workforce, or if you’re going back to a field you haven’t worked in for a while, consider getting a certification or doing a training that you can highlight in your resume. Click for an example.
- Combination Resume: Includes dates of employment but organized by skill categories rather than chronologically by individual jobs. A good option if you’ve been in the same job for 10+ years, or if you want to include skills that go beyond the last 10 years. Click for an example.
- Don’t list any work experience more than 10 years old.
- Discrimination based on age is illegal, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. If the recruiter can tell from your resume that you have almost 30 years of experience, they might take you out of the running because they assume you’re going to retire soon. Don’t give them a reason to raise a red flag before they meet you in person.
- Don’t include an “Objective” at the top of your resume.
- Instead, grab the recruiter’s attention with a “Career Summary”, highlighting your most valuable skills and/or biggest accomplishments. It’s a shortened version of the cover letter; a quick paragraph explaining why you’re a good fit for that company and why you’re the one for this position.
- If you have a lot of experience, don’t forget to avoid aging yourself. So in your Career Summary, say “over 10 years of experience” instead of “28 years”.
- If you’re a recent college graduate without much work experience, use the Career Summary to talk about your internships.
- Don’t indicate if you have children.
- This also goes for the interview. Employers shouldn’t discriminate against caregivers, but it could raise a red flag if they think you might miss work because you have to care for your children.
- Don’t say “References available upon request” → that’s a given.
Looking for a job is a full-time job. Network, and always look for opportunities to send your resume out. Keep in mind, the goal of the resume is to get you an interview. When you meet the employer in person, they can see your personality, which is oftentimes what gets the job.
Once your resume is ready, you can submit it to us online to be considered for openings at our client companies.