Whether you're new to the workforce or are looking to make a change, one of the best things you can do for your career is craft a stellar resume. Even if writing isn't your strong suit, you can still put together a solid resume to entice prospective employers. Here's how to do it.
1. Craft a compelling opening summary
The opening section of your resume sets the tone for the rest of that document -- so it's important to get it right. Your introductory statement should give a brief, snappy overview of who you are and why you're such a valuable asset, so use it to draw in your audience and convince those hiring managers to keep reading. Do not, however, mistake your introduction for an objective. "Seeking a role where I can prosper and grow" doesn't speak to your talents or personality. "Fearless marketer with boundary-pushing tendencies," on the other hand, is a far more captivating way to start.
2. List your responsibilities and achievements from most to least significant
The folks who receive your resume may not always read it in its entirety. In fact, there's a good chance they'll merely skim through it at first, and then go back for a more thorough read once interested. That's why it's critical to put your most valuable skills and accomplishments toward the top of each section, where readers' eyes are most likely to land initially, and stick those mundane, less impressive tasks lower down on the list. Even if you spent most of your time at your last job booking conference rooms and making travel arrangements for other people, if you were given several key projects to run with, highlight those first.
3. Use hard numbers
It's one thing to boast of your sales prowess, but it's another to document the extent to which you've actually delivered results. That's why it pays to use hard numbers to highlight your achievements whenever possible. If you increased sales by 20% at your last job, say so -- with a number.
4. Don't list skills that should be a given
It's 2017, which means that pretty much everyone who works in an office also knows how to use the internet. The same holds true for basic word processing and spreadsheets. Calling out these skills on your resume could be a sign that you're desperate for content -- which might turn prospective employers away. Instead, focus on the skills that make you stand out, and avoid stating what should be the obvious.
5. Show, don't just tell
It's hard to pin down your entire career to a one-page snapshot, but thankfully, you don't have to. If you've developed an online portfolio showcasing your work, include a link to it on your resume so that prospective employers know where to look for further detail. It's one thing to talk about what a wonderful graphic designer you are, but it's much more powerful to let those hiring managers see for themselves.
6. Keep it clean
In the hiring world, there's no greater turnoff than a resume laden with errors. Similarly, if your fonts and italics usage are all over the place on the document, your potential employer is bound to notice that sloppiness. Before you submit your resume, examine it thoroughly for stylistic consistency. This means that if you bold the name of a previous employer in one section, you should do the same in another. And though the following should go without saying, for the love of grammar, run your resume through a spell-checking program to ensure that the words it contains are, well, actual words.
Finally, make certain your contact information is both up-to-date and professional. "[email protected]" may be a perfectly fine email address to share with your friends, but for resume purposes, you're much better off with the classic "first name_last name" format.
Though we're told not to judge books by their covers, there's no question that those reading your resume will use it to determine whether or not you're worth pursuing as a job candidate. The more work you put into that document, the more likely it is to help get you hired.