Writing a Professional Resume: 7 Valuable Tips to Help You Wow Employers

June 26th, 2017 Written by: Molly Masterson

Hiring managers and recruiters sort through dozens if not hundreds of resumes every day to find job candidates who have the right mix of skill, experience, on-paper personality and potential to be called in for an interview.

Care to take a guess at how much time they’re actually spending with each resume?

According to a study by The Ladders, the average vet time is just six seconds. That’s right. Six seconds. And what’s more, many recruiters and hiring managers also leverage applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help prescreen resumes and serve up those with the highest “relevancy” scores. In this scenario, if your resume doesn’t hit the mark, it may never be seen by human eyes.

So, how do you craft a sharp, effective resume that will grab the attention of both humans and machines to land an interview? Below we offer you seven tips that can help.

1. Aim to wow hiring managers in just one page.

Did you know that your application could be dismissed because it’s too long? It’s true. In fact, 47% of resumes are dismissed because they are too long, according to an Undercover Recruiter infographic.

Strive to make your resume just one page in length, and make sure the structure and layout is consistent and easy to read. A lack of structure or inconsistent formatting could be perceived as apathy or disorganization by hiring managers. As for font, employ a standard style and use a size between 10 and 12. Above all, your resume should focus on readability, so you’ll want to leave a healthy amount of whitespace.

2. Include keywords throughout your resume.

In today’s digital world, keywords are an important technical piece of drafting a compelling resume. An ATS system often uses keyword phrases to filter applications before recommending potential candidates. In addition, recruiters perusing job sites or professional networks like LinkedIn will also use keywords to conduct their searches. Finally, as recruiters scan resumes, they’re often looking for key qualifications and skills a candidate needs to possess.

Start with a basic resume as your foundation. Then take time to cater each section (i.e. Education, Experience, Qualifications and Skills) to specifically speak to the unique requirements, qualifications and skills outlined in the job description. For example, one desired qualification could be proficiency in Microsoft Office. Within your resume, you could write:

  • Proficiency in several Microsoft Office Suite programs including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint

3. Plainly list your contact information.

One of the worst things you can do is spend a great deal of time creating an outstanding resume, only to make it difficult for the hiring manager to notify you that they’re interested.

Make sure your name, phone number and a personal email address is prominently listed on the top of your resume. If you have professional social media handles or a personal website, include links and handles in your contact information.

4. Include a link to your LinkedIn account.

Very few job postings in today’s hiring market require submitting a paper copy of your resume and application. So why not add a link to your LinkedIn profile within your resume?

As mentioned above, your resume should be tailored to the specific job you’re applying for. But LinkedIn allows you to display your full work history — which can complement your resume and give employers an opportunity to dive deeper into your qualifications.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one. Use the tips outlined in our post Job Seeker Tips: 13 Ways to Get Your LinkedIn Profile Noticed to get started.

5. State your accomplishments instead of your duties.

Your resume should most certainly convey your level of skill and experience, but it should also highlight how you’ve used them to excel. A common mistake job seekers make is to list their duties as opposed to describing their accomplishments. Here’s an example:

  • Handled customer service requests and issues

Instead, try something like this:

  • Provided outstanding customer service by showing empathy and working quickly to solve customer problems, leading to a 93% customer satisfaction score

The former is simple and nondescript, while the latter shows how you went about executing your job duties and includes details about the results of your work.

6. Make a personal statement.

Many applicants choose to provide an objective statement at the top of their resume, which rarely adds any value. Why? Typically, an objective statement is a bland or obvious statement about why you’re applying for the position.

However, a personal statement is an opportunity for you to show the employer who you are as a person. Ask yourself: What makes you a great fit for this position or company? Then use what you come up with to craft a compelling and unique personal statement. For example:

  • When I was 8 years old, I was determined to learn how to juggle. It took strong will not to quit after many failures. But after hours of relentless practice, I got the hang of it. Now in my professional career, I bring that same tenacity and work ethic to the office with me every day.

7. Proofread your resume multiple times.

While it seems obvious, spelling and grammar are of paramount importance for your resume. A simple mistake can take you out of the running before you step up to the starting line. In fact, according to Undercover Recruiter’s infographic, 59% of recruiters will reject a candidate because of poor grammar or spelling errors.

When it comes to catching grammar and spelling errors, try stepping away from your resume after you finish writing it. Go for a walk or do a quick chore. Then come back, and read your resume aloud. A little break to clear your head and help you catch mistakes more easily.

Get Your Resume Noticed

If you want to stand out to hiring managers and recruiters, you have to make a strong statement with your resume. Use these tips to tailor your resume, show off your skills and accomplishments, and bring the wow factor.

Need help with your cover letter, too? Discover three simple and effective tips for writing a cover letter to help your application really soar.

Are you growing tired of the lack of response your job search is receiving? Partnering with a staffing agency like Masterson Staffing is a great way to give your job prospects a boost. Check out our Job Seeker Services page to learn how we can help you find your next career opportunity.

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