Writing a resume can be a difficult task. It takes practice, perspective, and time–none of which are things we generally have when we decide to write our resume.
That said, there are a few actions I’ve learned can quickly make a resume more likely to stand out and earn an interview. Here are the top things that make a significant difference.
Be more readable
This sounds simple, but many job seekers forget to do it. Your resume needs white space. It must be a document that a reader unfamiliar with your background can glance at for a few seconds and immediately tell whether you can do the job and why you are interested in it.
Beyond readability, having white space demonstrates clarity of thought. In order to shorten your resume enough to be readable, you need to be focused.
Remember: one relevant, important qualification is more important than a page full of irrelevant accomplishments.
Clarify your thoughts, shorten your bullets, and create a document that’s easy to read.
Quantify your accomplishments
One of the most important things you can do to convey your value to a hiring manager is phrasing your achievements in terms of business impact.
Every hiring manager knows the numbers associated with their business.
Quantifying your accomplishments does two things. First, it shows what you’ve done in a way the hiring manager can relate to. This lets them immediately think about what your work could mean in their business context. “30% growth!? Well… if she did that here, we’d beat our division’s most ambitious goals…”
Second, it demonstrates that you’re willing to think like an owner. Every hiring manager is accountable to meeting metrics. They want people on their team that will make that easy–and showing that you’re willing to do it in your resume is a great first step.
Tailor your resume to your stories
When it comes to interviewing for new roles, we should think of our experience as a collection of stories. Some are relevant for the new position; some are not. We all have a set of things we hope the interviewers will ask about. Advertise those things in your resume.
This short document is the opportunity to share those things with the recruiter. Think of it as the “movie trailer” for your interview. It should be compelling, dramatic–and leave the reader wanting more. Your bullet points should highlight stories that the recruiter wants their hiring manager to hear.
By far, the most important thing you can do to improve your resume is get feedback from others.
With every industry, company, and role, there are norms and nuances. These small differences in how people prioritize, how they frame problems, and how they think about change are incredibly important. A good resume will reference these details and use similar phrases, so that the interviewer knows that the applicant will be comfortable in the new role.
Learning the details is an ongoing process in any organization. As an applicant, if you find and respond to feedback, you can learn these cultural idiosyncrasies and be more ready to succeed–both in the interview, and in the new job–because of it.
This process starts with getting objective parties to review your resume, help with structure and formatting, and provide perspective. But, this can continue as your build relationships in the industry and understand more clearly the companies and roles to which you are applying.
So – as you’re writing your resume, remember to be clear, quantify your results, and make time for feedback.
Happy applying! Stay encouraged, and take care.