How to Write a Powerful Resume to Stand Out from the Crowd
A resume is your introduction to a potential employer, and as the saying goes, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” Therefore, it is essential that you know how to write a resume and that stands out from all others to ensure that you are the first applicant a company considers to fill an opening.
Here are eight tips to help you achieve that and get the first call to interview for the job you’ve always wanted.
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What You Need to Know About Writing a Resume
1. Check the Local Practices of Putting Together a Resume
Resume-writing practices vary from country to country. For example, in the United States, it is not typical for an applicant’s photograph to be attached to their resume in order to avoid factors such as age, race, gender, religion or national origin to play into the hiring decision.
However, in countries like the United Kingdom, it is more common to include one’s photograph at the top of a resume’s front page.
When applying for a job, it is advisable to check the general resume-writing practices of the country in which you are applying. Some employers won’t even take the time to look through someone’s resume if it doesn’t follow the format they are accustomed to.
2. Customize Your Resume to Suit the Opening You Are Applying For
Cater to your audience. This means you may have to edit your resume for every job posting you’re interested in.
Make sure you include only the most relevant information that would impress the company you are hoping to work with. For example, an IT professional looking to work for a tech giant should not include details about their summer abroad at a world-renowned cooking academy. Things like this, although impressive in their own ways, can be omitted as they are most likely irrelevant to the skills the employer is looking for.
Include only what you know would be needed in the job required.
3. Use Some Keywords from Job Postings
Check out some of the key terms the employer has used in their job posting and factor them into your resume. If a company is looking for a lab technician, it would be beneficial to include “lab technician” or “laboratory experience” in the skills and/or strengths.
Take as much as you can from the qualifications they are looking for and the details of the job responsibilities and include them in your own document if applicable.
4. Put the Most Important Information First
Human resource professionals likely won't spend much time going through everything on each resume, especially if a job posting attracts a large number of applicants. That being said, it is advisable to put the most important information first, based on what the employers are looking for.
If a company is in need of hiring someone with 10 years of experience in a certain profession, then it would be best to first highlight all your previous positions over that same period of time or longer. It would not make much sense to put your educational qualifications at the top of your document, especially if it has been several years since you last stepped into a classroom.
If it’s directly related to what the job opening requires, indicate that over everything else.
5. Highlight Some of Your Major Achievements
These can be work-related or something you’ve done in your social life that is relevant to the skills an employer is looking for.
A company that is in need of a salesman who interacts daily with customers would be in the market for someone who can communicate well orally and interact comfortably with strangers. It would therefore be helpful for an applicant to include in their resume the award they won in a speech contest or their participation in a leadership training program. These indicate the person’s ability to speak well with others in a public setting, which is advantageous for a salesperson’s position.
6. Be Concise and Straight-Forward
Nobody likes to read unnecessarily lengthy text. Beating around the bush on your resume could also tell the employer you are incapable of sticking to the point and focusing on only what’s required.
It is, therefore, best to be straightforward. When listing the responsibilities from your previous jobs, put them down in points and be direct in describing what you did.
Include everything you feel is important for your application, but write them as concise as possible.
7. Make Your Resume Look Professional
Use professional fonts that are basic and clean such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri. Make sure your font size makes it easy for anybody to read, but not too big that it makes it look like you’re trying to fill up space.
There are also many templates available online you could follow. However, just as in the first point above, make sure any template you choose is acceptable to the resume-writing practices in your country.
Use all the tools available such as spell and grammar check. A resume that is aesthetically pleasing but has all kinds of mistakes in the content is no good. It also raises red flags about your attention to detail and your abilities in formulating a professional document.
Take the time to go over your resume more than once.
Getting someone else to read it would also be helpful. Another pair of eyes going over something you’ve written gets you another perspective of what you’ve put together. There may be something you’ve missed that another person would spot, giving you the chance to correct it before sending out your job application.