What makes a resume stand out from other applications? What does it take to get a call to a job interview?
Your resume is a reflection of who you are as an employee. It should reflect what motivates you, what you’re proud of, and what you hope to accomplish. With the right structure and the right words, you can craft a compelling resume that tells recruiters everything they want to know while conveying a professional and personable impression.
Read on for some resume tips that will help you land your dream job.
General Resume Writing Tips
What makes a good resume? A good resume is a document that should reflect who you are and what you can bring to an organization. Putting these things into words can be challenging, but the right resume building tips will help you get there.
1. What to Include and Exclude?
Good resumes fit on one page. Ideally, you should have some white space between your different sections to create the perfect resume that is easy to read.
One of the most important pieces of resume advice you could get is to select the most relevant things to include. You need to find the right balance between sharing information and leaving enough white space, which means you might have to leave some information out.
It’s fine to list volunteering experiences and hobbies if you’re a recent grad with limited professional experience. A good tip for a resume is to avoid too much blank space that could make this document look bare.
As you progress in your career, you’ll have to identify the things you can omit. For instance, you can list your degree without going into details about your academic achievements. You can also leave out work experiences that aren’t relevant to the position you’re applying for.
It’s also important to pay attention to what the job ad asked for. There is a difference between CV vs resume. A CV is a longer document that should list every position you ever had. A resume should fit on one page and doesn’t need to be comprehensive.
Expert tip: Tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for. Select the most relevant skills and job experiences for the position and leave out the rest.
A young adult who recently graduated college won’t have many work experiences to list. It’s fine to give more details about their education and to include academic achievements:
B.A. in Communications – University of Central Florida – 2020
GPA: 3.8 – Minor in English – Presented a paper at the International Conference on Communication & Media Studies and published a paper titled ‘Current Trends in Digital Communication’ in Text & Talk.
After a few years, this same person would only need to include the first line to indicate what kind of degree they have, but they would remove their GPA and academic accomplishments to make room for work experiences.
2. How to Write a Great Objective Statement
An objective statement is a one or two-sentence summary of your professional goals. An outstanding resume should have an objective statement that grabs the hiring manager’s attention.
There are no resume rules set in stone and some job seekers choose not to include this statement. One of the most timeless tips for writing a resume is that you should weigh the pros and cons of each element. Ask yourself if it adds enough value to justify taking up some space.
If you’re wondering how to make your resume stand out when you don’t have much experience, you will find resume tips that recommend using an objective statement. We also recommend using an objective statement if you’re switching careers.
- Need some tips for a great resume with a strong objective statement? Here’s what to do:
- Keep your statement short and tailored to the job you’re going after.
- Place this statement at the top of your resume.
- Mention the position you’re applying for.
- State your professional goals.
- Tell the employer what you’re bringing to the table.
- Sell yourself by mentioning a key skill or professional experience.
Here’s an objective statement a new grad could use: ‘To obtain an entry-level position and gain experience with sales techniques.’
A job seeker with more experience could write: ‘During my 5 years at XX Agency, I designed campaigns that increased engagement by up to 115% for our top clients. I’m now seeking a similar position where I can use my skills and experience to work with a variety of clients.’
3. Create a Professional Email Address
Great resumes make your contact information easy to find. It means your email address will be at the top. It’s one of the first things a hiring manager could see. An unprofessional email address is an issue for 35% of employers.
If your email address includes a nickname or some numbers, it’s time to replace it with a more professional alternative. The domain name you choose can also affect how recruiters feel about you. Stick to Gmail or another provider with a good reputation to make a professional impression.
If you want more tips for a resume, avoid using numbers in your email address since they can trigger some spam filters.
The following email addresses are fine if you’re in high school or college but shouldn’t appear on your resume: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Instead, create a professional email address, like: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips for Resume Components and Structure
One of the best resume tips we could give you is to use a structure that draws attention to your most relevant skills and work experience. Here’s how you can draw attention to what matters.
4. Follow the Right Order
If you look up how to make a resume, you will find that most sources recommend following a similar structure. There are some best practices for listing the different sections of your resume and changing this order could make it difficult for hiring managers to locate the information they’re looking for.
Here’s a typical order for a resume that is easy to read:
- Contact information
- Objective statement
- Skills section
- Work experience
- Additional sections
Note that you can list your work experience first, especially if you have held a recent position that aligns with the job you’re applying for.
What should you include under additional sections? There are plenty of resume suggestions to explore, but one of the most important resume tips you could get is to play to your strengths.
Select additional sections that will help you stand out from other applicants. You could list your volunteering experiences, certificates, projects you’ve worked on, languages you speak, or your favorite hobbies. If you’re applying for a job that requires some tech skills, you might want to list the software you’re proficient with.
5. What About Social Media?
Our resume writing tips can’t overlook social media. Employers often look up candidates online and expect to find social media information on resumes.
It’s fine to include a link to one or two profiles as part of your contact information section. If you have a personal website or want to list more profiles, we recommend creating a section to showcase your online presence at the bottom of your resume.
Share links that are easy to understand and access. You should list your LinkedIn profile to showcase your professional connections and endorsement. Listing other profiles is a good idea if you use them to connect with colleagues and industry professionals.
Dos and Don’ts of Using Social Media
Regardless of whether you include links to your social media profiles on your resume, recruiters will look you up and visit the profiles they find. Don’t let your social media get in the way of getting your dream job!
- Keep your personal profiles private.
- Use a neutral profile picture since recruiters will probably see it.
- Update your LinkedIn profile and network with co-workers to get them to endorse your skills.
- Try posting regularly on LinkedIn, even if you’re just sharing articles from different news sources for your industry.
- Don’t use your real name for profiles you use for goofing off.
- Avoid mixing professional and personal content and contacts.
- Don’t talk negatively about a previous employer or co-worker.
Typing the whole link to your Twitter account isn’t convenient for the hiring manager: http://www.twitter.com/JohnSno...
Instead, you can type: Twitter: @JohnMarketing
6. Chronological or Skills-Based Resume?
Hiring managers are going to scan your resume. They will look for keywords that are relevant to the position they’re trying to fill. They’re also going to look for things that make you qualified for this job.
You can use a skills-based structure to emphasize things you learned in school or skills you developed in unrelated jobs that translate well to the position you want.
A chronological approach makes more sense if you already work in the industry you want to pursue a career in. Besides, a chronological approach can reflect how you have grown over the years and got better job offers. Keep in mind that you should always list your most recent position first if you opt for a chronological approach.
Let’s say you’re a young adult with experience in retail and tutoring. You’re going after an entry-level sales position. It’s fine to start with your skills so you can highlight things like how you marketed your tutoring services or interacted with customers at your retail job.
However, if you have a few years of experience in your field, it’s fine to skip part-time student jobs and other odd jobs. List your most recent position at the top of your resume so hiring managers can see where you are in your career.
Best Resume Formatting Tips
Important tips for a resume also include proper formatting. These resume building tips will help you draw attention to what matters while making this document easier to read.
7. Choose the Right Font
Quote: ‘Type is branding’ – Elizabeth Carey Smith
The right font can convey a professional impression. On the other hand, choosing a font that is hard to read or that doesn’t look professional will hurt your chances of getting your dream job.
Times New Roman is one the most common fonts used by job seekers but opting for a popular font can make your resume blend in with other applications.
If you want to create a sophisticated result, we recommend serif fonts like Cambria or Georgia. Sans serif fonts don’t use feet for the letters and lack the decorative details you’ll find with serif fonts. Calibri or Verdana are sans serif fonts that can make your resume look modern.
Expert tip: Unsure of whether you should use a serif or sans serif font? Take a look at the website and marketing publications of the potential employer to determine the fonts they use. Pick a similar font to show them that you would fit in.
A resume can look unprofessional if you mix fonts or use a font like Aharoni that isn’t common and makes the text hard to read and gives the impression that you bolded everything:
8. Make Your Resume Easy to Scan
There are different resume tips you can use to make your resume easy to scan:
- If possible, set the font size to 12. You can use 10 or 11 if you have more information to include.
- Your margins should measure at least .05.”
- You can make a resume with a side column to make your contact information and key skills stand out.
- Use bolded or larger headers to structure your resume.
- Organize the information within each header with bullet points or use different symbols.
- Use bold and italics to draw attention to important keywords but don’t overdo it.
- Check the alignment of your text to make sure it’s consistent.
Expert tip: Don’t use header and footer elements to structure your resume. A lot of employers use software to review applications and these digital tools will not scan the content that you put in a header or footer.
The following text mentions important skills, but it’s something a recruiter could skim easily:
Sales associate at Tardy’s Comics & Collectibles – 2018-2020
During my time at Tardy’s Comics & Collectibles from 2018 to 2020, my duties included stocking shelves, updating the store’s inventory, preparing online orders, and greeting customers. I developed some sales skills by talking with customers and boosted online pre-orders by 15% by writing Facebook posts for the store.
You could structure the same information with bullet points instead:
Sales associate at Tardy’s Comics & Collectibles – 2018-2020
- Duties included:
- Inventory management
- Online order fulfilling
- Customer service
- Social media copywriting
- Achievement: Created content for the store’s Facebook page that increased online pre-orders by 15%.
Tips on Language and Style on a Strong Resume
The way you word things on your resume matters because it can shape how the recruiter feels when they read your resume. The right words can convince them that you’re the best candidate for the job.
9. Avoid Jargon and Personal Pronouns
Hiring managers are typically HR employees and might not possess the necessary background to understand the jargon that is specific to your industry. Always use generic terms and never assume that the person reading your resume will be an expert in what you do.
It’s fine to use personal pronouns in your objective statement to emphasize authenticity. However, you shouldn’t overdo it because the HR employee who is reading your resume will get the impression that you’re trying too hard to sell yourself.
Here’s a potential description for a work experience item as a social media manager.
‘I was responsible for crafting copy, scheduling posts in our social media integration tool, and designed a social experience that results in a 6% increase in CTR and average of 578 impressions per publication.’
Here’s a better example of this same description:
‘Duties included writing social media posts, managing the posting schedule, and growing the brand’s online community. With 578 users on average seeing the posts, the click-through-rate increased by 6%.’
10.Action verbs and Keywords
Application tracking software will look for keywords when reviewing resumes. You should scan the job description to find relevant keywords to include. Keywords are typically the name of the position you’re going after and the key skills the employer will look for.
You should avoid passive voice on your resume and use description action verbs. Recruiting managers will picture you in the role they need to fill if you use more action verbs.
This description for a position in a call center lacks action verbs: ‘My job was to help people with buying our product and with their problems.’
A better version would be: ‘Answered an average of 3.6 calls per hour, assisted users with making purchases, and resolved technical issues.’
How to Make Your Resume Stand Out: Smart Resume Tips and Tricks
On average, more than 100 people will apply for a position. Make sure your resume is the best resume with these professional resume tips.
11. Be Authentic and Specific
Recruiters can tell when you’re lying. It pays to be authentic and honest. You can create a personal brand by picking two or three strengths and focusing on them.
If possible, use your resume to tell a story. You can use your work experience to show how you progressed in your career. Show your motivation and enthusiasm by focusing on your achievements.
Be specific with the words you choose. Use precise words to describe your skills and previous work experience. Tell the recruiter about your job duties with specific words.
Here’s an objective statement that isn’t specific enough and that fails to reflect the applicant’s personality: ‘Motivated IT specialist with strong tech and communication skills looking for a new position.’
Instead, you could tell a story and be more specific: ‘Working with XX company for three years has given me the opportunity to learn about network optimization and gain experience with traffic monitoring tools. My goal is now to apply these skills working as an IT team manager.’
12. Show Instead of Telling
If you’re looking for good resume tips, you should know that employers prefer resumes with facts and numbers. You should discuss your achievements by showing a measurable outcome.
A potential employer will debate whether they should take a chance on hiring you. By including numbers, you’re giving them proof that you will perform well.
This example tells the recruiter what this person did at their previous job:
Sales associate at Tardy’s Comics & Collectibles – 2016-2018
Duties included greeting customers, processing sales, and fulfilling online orders.
A better resume would use the following description with numbers:
Sales associate at Tardy’s Comics & Collectibles – 2016-2018
- Greeted customers and achieved 90% satisfaction rate on the store’s customer service survey.
- Worked as part of a sales team that increased sales by 1.3% during Q4 2018.
- Fulfilled an average of 6.5 online orders per hour.
Complementary Resume Advice: Tips for Once You’re Done Writing Your Resume
Congratulations! You’ve put together a compelling resume that reflects your skills and goals. There are a few additional resume tips and tricks to apply before you apply for your dream job.
13. Fix the Typos
Proofread your resume to look for typos and grammatical errors. Small errors can jump out at a recruiter and ruin your credibility.
Expert tip: Punctuation should be consistent. If you have bullet lists and decided to use a period at the end of each item, make sure each item has a period at the end.
14.Have Someone Proofread Your Resume
Don’t hesitate to ask for help with your resume. Someone else might spot things that you missed.
15.Printing Your Resume
Even though most employers use digital tools, there are businesses that still accept in-person applications.
Here are a few useful resume tips and tricks for printing this important document:
- Test your printer first to make sure it works properly and won’t cause lines or other issues.
- Print paper typically has a weight of 20 lb. You can pick a slightly thicker paper with a weight of 32 lb to make your resume stand out.
- Instead of printing your resume on white print paper, pick an off-white paper to make your application stand out.
Need Help with Resume Building? CVMaker Has You Covered
Key Takeaways About Building Great Resume
We hope our advice on resume best practice will help you showcase your skills and motivation. Here’s a quick summary of the good resume tips we shared above:
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- Include what is relevant to the position you're going after.
- Start your resume with an eye-catching objective statement.
- Create a professional email address.
- Structure your resume by following established best practices to make the information easy to find.
- Include links to your social media profiles but make sure your online presence will create a positive impression.
- Use a chronological structure if your most recent position makes you qualified for the job you want.
- A skills-based structure makes more sense if you lack work experience in the industry you're interested in.
- Choose the right font to make your resume easy to read and create a professional impression.
- Use bullet points and white space so that hiring managers can scan your resume.
- Avoid jargon and limit personal pronouns.
- Use plenty of action verbs and scan the job ad to identify the keywords you should include.
- Use an authentic voice and be specific with the words you choose.
- Show instead of telling. When possible, use numbers to show proof of your accomplishments.
- Don't forget to proofread to fix typos and ask someone else to proofread your resume.