How to Write an Good Resume that Lands you a Job within 30 Days- In today’s competitive job market, an excellent resume is absolutely critical for getting your foot in the door. As Indeed notes, your resume is often the very first impression a hiring manager will get of you as a candidate. For many roles, the resume is the key determining factor in whether you will be called for an interview or not. An exceptional resume can make the difference between moving forward in the hiring process, or having your application rejected outright.
With most companies utilizing applicant tracking systems and rigid screening processes, it’s more important than ever to craft a resume that showcases your qualifications effectively. Even minor mistakes or a less-than-stellar presentation can cause your resume to be overlooked. On the other hand, a compelling, well-formatted resume tailored to the target role can greatly enhance your chances of landing an interview and moving forward in the hiring process.
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Table of Content
- Resume Elements
- Customizing Your Resume
- Highlighting Your Best Self
- Formatting and Design
- Organize information clearly
- Use consistent structure
- White space and clean fonts
- Avoid distracting elements
- Optimize for ATS systems
- Common Resume Pitfalls
- Leveraging Your Resume
- Reference resume in cover letters
- Bring copies to networking events
- Prepare interview stories
- Your resume is a living document requiring ongoing refinement
- A strong resume gives you your best shot at landing interviews
- Combine your resume with proactive job search strategies
Questions to answer:
- Why is having an excellent resume so critical for job search success today?
- What are the most important elements to include on your resume?
- How do you customize your resume for each job you apply to?
- What key skills and achievements should you highlight?
- How do you deal with employment gaps or lack of direct experience?
- What formatting, design and style tips make your resume stand out?
- How should you optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems?
- What mistakes do people commonly make on their resumes?
- How do you leverage your resume for networking and interview success?
Your contact information should be prominently displayed at the top of your resume. This allows hiring managers to easily find your name, phone number, email, and location. According to Indeed, the key contact details to include are:
- Your full name
- City and state
- Phone number
- Email address
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Your resume summary should be a brief overview of your top skills, achievements, and experience that relates to the job you are applying for. Tailor your summary to the specific role by incorporating keywords from the job description. Limit your summary to 2-3 concise sentences that grab the hiring manager’s attention.
For example, if you are applying for a marketing manager role, your summary could state: “Innovative marketing leader with 5+ years experience driving growth and engagement for leading brands. Skilled at developing data-driven campaigns and managing cross-functional teams to boost product adoption by 25%.”
The summary section is your chance to showcase your relevant qualifications before the recruiter dives into your work history. Avoid generic summaries that could apply to any candidate. Demonstrate what makes you stand out with a focused summary that speaks directly to the targeted position.
Check out these examples for inspiration on crafting a compelling yet concise resume summary: How To Write an Effective Resume Summary (With Examples) – Indeed Career Guide, How to write a resume summary (30 examples) – Handshake
List your work experience in reverse chronological order starting with your most recent role. For each position, emphasize your key accomplishments, contributions, and impact by listing 3-5 bullet points under the job title. Highlight achievements that show off relevant skills and abilities for the role you are applying to. Focus on presenting quantifiable, measurable results.
Marketing Manager, XYZ Company (2019 – Present)
- Increased product sales by 25% in 2020 by optimizing digital marketing campaigns and implementing a new email nurturing strategy.
- Improved brand awareness and engagement levels by 30% through executing social media campaigns that reached over 1M impressions monthly.
- Led end-to-end development and execution of annual $500K marketing budget across print, digital, events, and other channels.
Reference: Listing Accomplishments on Your Resume (With Examples)
Your skills section should highlight both your hard and soft skills relevant to the position you’re applying for. Hard skills are specific abilities or technical expertise, while soft skills refer to personal attributes like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. Here are some tips on featuring the right skills:
- Include technical skills you have expertise in that the job requires, like data analytics, programming languages, software, and tools. Use keywords from the job ad.
- Show mastery by using keywords like “expert in Excel” or “advanced Python skills” rather than just listing Excel or Python.
- For technical jobs, elaborate on your proficiency with key systems or methodologies. Quantify your expertise when possible.
- Highlight soft skills like leadership, communication, presentation abilities, teamwork, time management, and problem-solving.
- Use keywords from the job description and tailor your language (e.g., “experienced collaborating in Agile teams”).
- Give specific examples of how you’ve demonstrated these skills.
Keep your skills concise yet descriptive. Focus on 6-8 standout hard and soft skills tailored to each application. Cite Source
Highlight your relevant degrees, certifications and coursework in the education section of your resume. List your most recent degree first, followed by earlier degrees in reverse chronological order. Here is an example format:
Bachelor of Arts in English
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
2012 – 2016
Relevant Coursework: Creative Writing, Literature, Communications
For each degree, include the official name, university, graduation year, as well as any honors, awards or GPAs above 3.0. You can also list specific courses that align with the target job. Certifications in first aid, technology or financial modeling could demonstrate job readiness. Keep descriptions brief and concise.
If currently pursuing an educational program, list as “Expected 20XX” under the degree title. For incomplete degrees, include years attended and credits earned. Listing education clearly, accurately and succinctly will evidence your qualifications.
Customizing Your Resume
One of the most important ways to improve your resume’s effectiveness is to customize it for each job you apply to. Generic resumes that aren’t tailored to specific roles often get overlooked. Researching the company and thoroughly reviewing the job description will allow you to align your resume with the position’s requirements.
Start by identifying key skills, qualifications and buzzwords in the job description. Try to incorporate some of these directly into your resume, especially in your summary section. For example, if the role requires “excellent communication skills”, you could update your summary to say “Seasoned account manager with excellent communication skills and 5+ years experience managing client relationships.”
Similarly, under your work experience, highlight projects and accomplishments that demonstrate the abilities the employer is looking for. Quantify your achievements with numbers and data whenever possible. For instance, if social media skills are desired, elaborate on how you “Increased Twitter followers by 15% in 6 months through creative content strategy.”
Customizing your resume in this manner serves the dual purpose of matching applicant tracking systems keywords, while also showing the hiring manager why you’re a great fit for the specific job. Taking the time to align your resume will make you stand out from candidates submitting generic applications (FlexJobs, 2022).
Formatting and Design
The formatting and design of your resume are crucial to making an excellent first impression. Follow these key tips to clearly organize information and create a professional-looking document:
Use consistent structure and organization. Group similar information together into clear sections. For example, place your contact info at the top, followed by the summary, work experience, skills, and education sections.
Leave plenty of white space on the page. Avoid dense blocks of text and instead break information down into bite-sized bullet points. White space makes your resume appear less cluttered and easier to skim.
Stick to clean, simple fonts. Fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman in 10-12 point size are easiest to read. Avoid stylized cursive or calligraphy fonts.
Avoid using too many different font sizes, styles, or colors. This will look unprofessional and distracting. Pick one or two fonts maximum.
Use bold text sparingly to draw attention to key information like job titles or heading. Italics can highlight achievements.
Carefully proofread and spell check. Look for any typos, grammar errors, or inconsistencies that could cost you the job.
Research applicant tracking systems (ATS) and optimize accordingly. Many companies use ATS to scan and pre-screen resumes, so simple formatting helps.
Print your resume to check formatting errors. Make sure margins, columns, and tables appear as expected.
Ask someone else to review the formatting and readability of your resume before submitting.
Common Resume Pitfalls to Avoid
Your resume needs to make a strong first impression on hiring managers to get an interview. Avoid making careless mistakes that could lead your resume straight to the rejection pile:
Spelling and Grammar Errors
Typos and poor grammar can make you appear sloppy, careless, or less educated. Proofread carefully and run spellcheck to catch mistakes. Ask a friend to review as an extra pair of eyes. Even minor errors could lead to an automatic rejection.
Vague, Weak Language
Non-specific, overly general statements don’t convey your capabilities. Superfluous adjectives like “exceptional” can sound exaggerated. Use powerful action verbs and quantify achievements to showcase your value.
Outdated Contact Details
Make sure your contact information is current. List an active phone number and professional email address. You don’t want to miss out on an interview because the employer couldn’t reach you.
Poor Structure and Formatting
Inconsistent structure, font sizes, random italics, and unusual alignments can be distracting. Stick to a clean, scannable format with clear organization. Follow standard conventions to showcase content effectively.
Leveraging Your Resume
Your resume is useful for much more than just applying for jobs online. You can leverage it to strengthen all aspects of your job search, from networking to interviews.
When writing cover letters, pull examples and highlights directly from your resume to showcase how your background matches the role. Reference your relevant skills, achievements, and qualifications that make you an ideal candidate.
Bring copies of your resume to networking events and informational interviews. Walk through your background and highlight the things you want to emphasize face-to-face. Having a resume on hand shows you came prepared to discuss your career.
In job interviews, expect that the hiring manager will have your resume in front of them. Use it as a chance to dive deeper into your experience. Share examples and stories that reflect the accomplishments and strengths outlined in your resume.
Your resume gives you an edge in every interaction during your job search. Develop succinct talking points based on the information it contains. Having a strong resume lays the foundation for success from networking to receiving a final job offer.