Tips to Building a Great Resumé

resume' with cup of coffee

Creating a stunning resumé is just as important nailing your job interview.  Here are some guidelines to help you get started.

1. Don't make it too lengthy.
Keeping things simple, relevant and to-the-point will earn you some respect right off the bat. If things go well here, you’ll have the opportunity to answer the most common interview questions in person! Try including a link to an online portfolio or professional website if you have one—that way you’ll be able to showcase more of your work without taking up space on your actual resumé.

2. Make sure your contact info is professional.
Nobody wants to get in touch with Don’t use your college email address either. Just a normal, boring email account with your first and last name will get the job done.  Double-check all your social media accounts to make sure they’re workplace-friendly, especially if you include any of your social media handles on your resumé.  Those should only be on your resumé if they’re relevant to the position you’re applying for. For most jobs, your LinkedIn account is the only one you need to include.

3. Keep the job listing in mind.
Employers post job descriptions for a reason—they want to be clear and specific about what qualities and skills they’re looking for. Look for those buzzwords and find ways to work them into your resumé. Be honest about your skill set and don’t get discouraged if you don’t have every skill on the list.  Many employers are willing to work with you and train you when you first step into the job.  It might sound like a lot of work to tailor your resumé to each job application, but that effort will really pay off. Employers will know that you took the time to read all the info and are seriously interested in their company, not just sending a cookie-cutter application to hundreds of different jobs.

4. Tell the truth.
Okay, this one is a no-brainer interview tip in general, but enough people have lied or “stretched the truth” on their job applications to make it worth mentioning. Don’t say you know someone at the company if you’ve never talked to them before. Don’t say you know how to use Excel and PowerPoint if you really don’t. It’ll just make you look shady when the employer asks you for more specifics (or worse, if you do get hired and then they have to show you how to make a spreadsheet.)

5. Make it easy to read.
When building your resumé, put yourself in the recruiter’s position. What would you be looking for? You’d probably want something that’s clear and easy on the eyes, right? Here are some things that can help with that:
Use 10–12-point font.
Use a professional text, like Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, etc. 
Keep your headers simple, with concise bullet points below them.
Don’t use too many variations in font size, color and style (bold, italics or underline).
Sure, there’s room for some creativity, but nothing too crazy—think streamlined and classic. 

6. Use active words.
Recruiters are used to seeing words like “managed” or “led” on resumés, and there’s nothing wrong with those words. But what if the language was just a little more engaging? Here are a few active, interesting and not-too-fancy words to use where it makes sense:
You get the picture. Again, you want to make sure the words you use to describe what you did are truthful, but spend some time with a thesaurus to see if there’s a more descriptive way to say it.

7. Explain why you’re a good fit.
Remember when we talked about tailoring your resumé to each job you’re applying for? Your resumé should include a few words about why you want to work for this company. It’s one thing to know that someone wants to work for you, but if you see that they genuinely care about the company and its mission, wouldn’t you be more likely to want them on your team? 

8. Give concrete examples.
When talking about your past experience, it’s a good idea to quantify it by using some kind of number or measure of success. That will give employers a clear picture of the kinds of results you deliver!
Here are a few examples:
Increased sales by 200% in one year.
Structured, wrote and posted 4–5 articles per week.
Served 20–30 clients per week and generated $10,000 in revenue per month.
Even if your past experience doesn’t involve sales or you never knew how much revenue you brought in, you can find some way to explain the work you did in terms of numbers.

9. Proofread.
Spelling and grammar are your friends! Even just one case of using the wrong “their” can sway an employer's opinion, so read over everything more than once. Proofreading is like making sure you don’t have a mustard stain on your interview outfit before you walk inside!
Ask a few other people you trust to give you some feedback too—not just on the tiny details, but on the clarity and appearance of your resumé as a whole.

10. Put your education last.
Always put the most important and relevant information first—and in most cases, that’s not your education. Most employers don’t care where you went to school, as long as you’re educated in your field. Don’t forget to include any other training or educational courses that are relevant to the job you want!

Building a great resumé takes time and effort, but it can pay off big when you land a position you've been striving for. Also, there’s no shame in using a template to help you build your resumé—in fact, it will make your life a whole lot easier. It's time to get started!