“This is a storytelling exercise in what makes you so compelling,” said Debra Wheatman, Certified Resume Writer and Career Advisor. “You have to see this as a marketing tool for yourself. Take a step outside of yourself and ask yourself how you want the world to perceive you.”
The top of your resume is your most valuable real estate. So make sure recruiters and hiring managers can easily find what they need.
“A creative resume is working against you,” said Stacie Haller, a job search coach. “You have to get someone’s attention in six seconds and recruiters know where to look for information and that’s where we want to find it. We don’t have time to figure you out.”
He advised including your name, the city and state you live in, your email, phone number, LinkedIn profile, and a value statement/summary if you’ve been in the workforce for a while.
Do: Summarize your skills and brand
A summary at the top of your resume is a way to highlight your skills and create a brand for yourself.
Those new to the world of work could start with their education rather than a resume, Wheatman said, but if they want to include a resume, he suggested it could be something like: Recent graduate with a marketing degree and skills applicable to the XYZ industry .
He added that early-career job seekers can also promote their communication and collaboration skills.
For more experienced workers, he advised having an executive Summary detailing the value you bring to a position or company, including examples of success in your current or previous roles.
“It’s a powerful brand statement with an example…think of it like: I bring what to this position,” he said. “You want something specific and measurable that is an immediate example of something you’ve done that illustrates how you drive results.”
No: include a goal
One thing that shouldn’t be at the top of your resume: a goal.
“Don’t tell a company what you’re looking for, you need to share with them information about how it can impact their environment,” Wheatman said.
Do: write for robots
Adding the position you’re applying for at the top can help your resume get past applicant tracking systems, according to Demisha Jennings, a certified resume writer.
These systems search for specific keywords to find potential candidates.
He suggested identifying the keywords used in a job description and making sure they are included in your resume as well. Often the job title and required skills are some of the keywords tracking systems are looking for, he explained.
“If you don’t use those keywords and phrases from the job description, it’s harder to get past the applicant tracking system,” he said.
Do: be specific
You want to be clear with your experience and make sure you spell out your skills and qualifications for a job.
“Early in your career, on your resume you have to show what you can do,” Haller said. “Later in his career, he has to show the value of bringing him in as a senior leader.”
He added that describing quantifiable successes, whether in sales, growth, benchmarks or savings, can help show your impact and help attract more attention from recruiters.
“BS meters are out with the resume reviewers…when [resumes] are very general, you’re not going to get a call,” he said.
No: include anything and everything
Your resume should not be a data dump of everything you have done.
One way to format your experience is to list the position, company and title, followed by a few lines describing your role and then some achievement-based bullet points with more specific details, Jennings suggested.
“The vignettes should make you stand out,” he said. “The first few sentences highlight the strongest, most complex things you do on paper.”
And list your bullet points in order of importance, Haller suggested. “Stack your panels with things you want people to see…[recruiters] They’re probably only reading the first one.”
Recent graduates who don’t have much work or internship experience and are looking to round out their resume can add volunteer involvement, related extracurricular activities, and applicable projects.
“Just because you don’t get paid for something doesn’t mean it’s not work,” Wheatman said.
No: lie or make mistakes
It’s okay not to have all the skills or requirements listed in a job posting, so don’t make false claims about yourself on your resume.
And be sure to check your resume for any spelling or grammatical errors before you hit submit.
“One mistake or typo on a resume could put you out of the running,” Haller said. “Make sure someone else watches it.”