When applying for jobs, your resume is your first impression.
A strong resume can help you stand out from the crowd and land the job you want. But what makes a resume stand out? And how can you make sure yours is one of them?
In this definitive guide, we’ll show you how to create a job-winning resume, step-by-step. We’ll also share some helpful tips and resources along the way.
So whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’re looking to make a change, or maybe try one of the higher-paying jobs that don’t require a degree, follow these steps to create a resume that will help you get the job you want.
1. Start With a Strong Foundation
The first step to creating a strong resume is to start with a solid foundation. This means making sure your resume is clear, concise, and free of any errors.
To do this, you’ll want to:
- Use simple, easy-to-read language
- Avoid overused words and phrases
- Stick to active voice
- Be clear and concise
2. Highlight Your Skills and Experience
Once you have a solid foundation, it’s time to start highlighting your skills and experience. Start by making a list of all your relevant skills and experiences. Then, choose the ones that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
When highlighting your skills and experience, be sure to:
- Use descriptive language
- Focus on results
- Quantify your accomplishments
3. Organize Your Resume
Once you have a list of your skills and experience, it’s time to start organizing your resume. Start by dividing your resume into sections, such as “Skills”, “Experience”, and “Education”. Then, within each section, list your information in reverse chronological order (meaning, start with your most recent experience or education and work backward).
4. Choose the Right Format
Now that you have all your information organized, it’s time to choose the right format for your resume. There are three common formats for resumes: chronological, functional, and combination.
The chronological format is the most common and it lists your information in reverse chronological order (as we mentioned earlier). This is a good choice if you have a solid work history and clear career progression.
The functional format focuses on your skills and experience, rather than your work history. This can be a good choice if you don’t have a lot of work experience or if you’re making a career change.
The combination format combines both the chronological and functional formats. This can be a good choice if you want to highlight both your work history and your skills.
5. Use Keywords
When choosing your resume format, be sure to keep keywords in mind. Keywords are words or phrases that describe your skills and experience. They’re often used by employers to help them find candidates that match their needs.
To choose the right keywords for your resume, look at the job listing and see what skills and experience the employer is looking for. Then, include those keywords in your resume.
6. Proofread Your Resume
After you’ve written and formatted your resume, it’s important to proofread it carefully. Look for any grammar or spelling errors and make sure all your information is clear and concise.
If possible, have someone else proofread your resume as well. The second set of eyes can help you catch errors you might have missed.
7. Save Your Resume in the Right Format
Once you’ve proofread your resume, it’s time to save it in the right format. The most common formats are .doc (Microsoft Word) and .pdf (Adobe Acrobat).
If you’re sending your resume electronically, make sure to use a professional-looking email address. And if you’re including your resume as an attachment, be sure to label it with your name and the job you’re applying for (e.g. “John Doe – Sales Manager Resume”).
8. Follow the Instructions
When applying for a job, be sure to follow any instructions the employer has given. For example, if they ask for a specific format or file type, make sure to send your resume in that format. If they ask you to include a cover letter, be sure to include one.
Sending your resume without following the instructions is a sure way to get it rejected.
9. Customize Your Resume
It’s important to customize your resume for each job you apply for. This means tailoring your resume so it highlights the skills and experience that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
For example, if you’re applying for a job as a web developer, be sure to highlight your experience in web development. And if you’re applying for a job as a sales manager, be sure to highlight your experience in sales.
The more relevant your resume is to the job, the better your chances of getting hired.
10. Use a Professional-Looking Design
Your resume should be easy to read and should use a professional-looking design. Avoid using fancy fonts, images, or colors. Stick to simple designs and layouts that will make it easy for employers to find the information they’re looking for.
If you’re not sure how to design your resume, there are plenty of templates you can use. Just do a search for “resume templates” and you’ll find plenty of options.
11. Use Action Words
When describing your work experience, be sure to use action words. Action words are verbs that describe what you did. They’re often used in resumes to make the experience sound more impressive.
For example, instead of saying “I managed a team of salespeople”, you could say “I led a team of salespeople”. Or instead of saying “I was in charge of customer service”, you could say “I oversaw customer service”.
Using action words will make your resume sound more dynamic and will help you stand out from other candidates.
12. Keep It Concise
Your resume should be clear and concise. Avoid using overly long or technical words. Stick to simple language that can be easily understood by everyone.
It’s also important to keep your resume short. In general, you should aim for a length of one or two pages. If your resume is longer than that, it’s likely that employers will lose interest and stop reading.