Maybe you’re embarking on a new job search, or maybe you just want to be prepared when opportunity knocks. Regardless of why, you’ve decided that it’s time to update your resume.
Now that you’re embroiled in the process, however, it feels more complicated. Resumes have a lot of heavy lifting to do for such short documents. How can you create a resume that will impress the hiring manager and get you that important first phone interview?
These resume writing tips can help:
1. Don’t Start With a Blank Page
Your final product will look very different from the sample you used to start (at least, it should). But using a template can help you organize your thoughts without getting psyched out by the process.
2. Customize Your Resume for Every Job
Hiring managers want to interview candidates who seem excited about their job opening, not just any job opening. For job seekers, this means making each job application package seem like it’s been created entirely from scratch with this job in mind.
Of course, you don’t really have time to do that — nor do you have to. But you do have to adapt your resume and cover letter to each job listing, to maximize your chances of getting the call.
Employers want to interview people who seem excited about their job opening, not just any job opening.
3. Use Keywords From the Job Listing
If you’re applying through a job site or a corporate website, chances are that an Applicant Tracking System will scan your resume long before a human ever gets a look at it. To beat the robots and get to a person, you have to use the right keywords.
“Your resume keywords should include specific job requirements, including your skills, competencies, relevant credentials, and previous positions and employers,” writes Alison Doyle at The Balance. “Essentially, keywords should be words that, at a glance, will show the hiring manager that you are a good fit for the job.”
Doyle suggests starting out by looking at job listings, picking out buzzwords that come up in the “qualifications” or “responsibilities” sections.
4. Proofread Your Resume
Want to make sure you catch every last typo and style inconsistency? (Yes. Yes, you do.) The first step is to print it out, says Amanda Augustine at TopResume.
“Our brains don’t read words on screens with as much detail or care as they do when the words appear in print,” she writes. “Once you’ve edited your resume on your computer and done an initial review, print out a black-and-white copy and give it a more thorough review.”
Augustine’s other tips include reading your resume out loud and having a friend take a look.
5. Make a One-Page Version
Experts are split on whether resumes should still fit on a single page. But even if your work history and the job description demand more detail, it’s a good idea to create a one-page version, just in case.
Why make a one-page resume? For one thing, it forces you to be ruthless about trimming the fat. In the course of making this alternate, shorter resume, you might discover that there’s a lot of stuff on your regular resume that no longer needs to be there.
Even if that’s not the case, one-pagers are easier to hand out at networking events, job fairs and trade shows. There’s nothing less persuasive than being handed a stack of paper by a candidate you’ve just met.
Keep it short and sweet, and you’ll be able to network with a lot less fuss.
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