5 Essential Résumé Writing Tips

Spring is here, and many of us are tackling those spaces in our house collecting dust. Another item to clean up is your résumé. Whether you’re job hunting in the near future or wanting to stay current, spend an hour or two thinking about this all-important personal document.

While I don’t claim to be a résumé-writing expert, I am fortunate to be related to someone who has spent years coaching and guiding job seekers. Thanks Marcia Lyons for these tips! And if you need a final set of eyes on your document, keep me in mind!

resume-tips

A résumé is your most important marketing piece, and it takes a lot of thought. The résumé gets the interview, and sometimes it can still get you the job if it’s good enough — even if your interview wasn’t perfect. Why? Because your résumé stays behind and is what the members of the hiring team will look at again as they narrow the field of candidates. If your résumé successfully reminds them of what you have to offer, you can still come out on top.

Here are five things your résumé must include:

  1. A good-looking format. Use a standard, easy-to-read font. Don’t make the font size too small — readability is more important than cramming the information on a single page. Use white space, shaded boxes, and font emphasis (bold, underline, italic, etc.) to create interest and readability. Keep in mind you may also need a plain text version for some websites.
  2. A job description, including position title and dates worked. Also write accomplishment statements for each job of any duration — what did you do in that position to make a difference? Use quantification in the accomplishment statements (i.e., “improved sales by 15% in first year,” “trained 30 employees in proper use of the new software system,” “coordinated 50 volunteers for the school fundraiser.” Numbers make the statement more meaningful.
  3. Résumé-friendly grammar, usage, and style. Always write in the third person, and start sentences with strong action verbs. First person résumés are awkward and make a poor impression.
  4. A skills summary. Locate it somewhere on the résumé where key words are easy to locate. This skills summary should give the reader a quick snapshot of what you have to offer. These are often at the top of the résumé, immediately following the summary of qualifications, or career summary section.
  5. A top-notch summary. This section may be the only part of your résumé that is read as hiring teams go through a giant pile of résumés. If you don’t include this vital section, your résumé reviewer will just look at your last title and that will be what they remember about you. Quite often, this is not what you want. For example, if your most recent position is as a part-time sales clerk but you have been a marketing manager and vice president for a large company, you want to make sure those significant roles stand out at the top.

There is a lot of advice out there, and don’t be afraid to do your homework as you prepare to update your résumé. If you keep these five ideas in mind, you’ll be on your way to creating a document that does the job.

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