A resume is perhaps the most important part of your job search. It’s what initially attracts the attention of a hiring manager, communicates your value to potential employers, and can lead to landing an interview.
We’ve seen thousands of resumes throughout our more than 30 years in the recruiting industry — so we know what works. Here’s how to create a resume that gets results.
What Employers Look for On Your Resume
60% want customized resumes
Recruiters and hiring managers can recognize a generic resume every time. You should customize your resume for each job application using keywords from the job posting.
38% want a cover letter
Cover letters are the first thing that many hiring managers see and can create a positive first impression that encourages an employer to read your resume.
37% want skill sets first on your resume
Include a bulleted list at the top of your resume listing key skill sets that make you the best fit for the job.
Write a Professional Summary
Your resume should start with a high-level overview of your skills, qualifications, and experience. Use this section to quickly and concisely summarize your strong points.
Marketing Manager with eight years of experience overseeing both creative and strategic aspects of marketing. Proven ability to develop successful lead generation strategies for multiple audiences. Extensive experience with copywriting, graphic design, and data analytics.
Applicant Tracking Systems
Most companies now use an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS, to help manage applications. An ATS allows companies to filter out unqualified applicants, search applications by keywords, and rank applicants based on the contents of their resumes.
Your resume may never be seen by an actual person if it doesn’t get past the filters set up by an employer’s ATS — which makes it imperative that you include the right keywords in your resume.
- Review the job description for the roles for which you’re applying.
- Identify keywords in the job description that represent the skills required for the role.
- Ensure that these keywords are included in your resume.
Work Experience: Quantifying Your Accomplishments
The work experience section of your resume should be more than a list of past responsibilities — it should tell potential employers what you’ve accomplished throughout your career. When possible, you should also add a number value to quantify your accomplishments. Here’s how.
Organize your responsibilities in a bulleted list, using an action verb at the beginning of each bullet point. For example, rather than saying “I ran reports,” say “Generated reports.”
Below is an example of how to take a basic, generic bullet point and make it valuable by adding an action verb and number to quantify your responsibilities.
Generic responsibility: Processed monthly payroll.
Now take it a step further by quantifying your past responsibility. Always use the number on your resume rather than writing the number out. Numbers will stand out more prominently on your resume.
Generic Responsibility: Processed monthly payroll.
Quantified Responsibility: Processed monthly payroll for 100 employees.
Then, add the system you used.
Quantified Responsibility with System: Processed monthly payroll for 100 employees using QuickBooks.
Processed is the action verb, monthly payroll is what you did, 100 employees quantifies your accomplishment, and QuickBooks is the system you used.
Additional Resume Tips
- When writing your resume, be cognizant of your use of past or present tense. Use present tense to describe your current position and past tense for your previous positions.
- To better organize your resume, utilize bolded and italicized words. Be consistent: if you bold a company name under your experience section, bold all the company names in that section. If you italicize dates for one position, do the same for all your other positions.
- Finally, make sure to write your resume yourself. Don’t use a resume writing service or have a friend write it for you. Recruiters see hundreds of resumes a week. They can tell when someone wrote their resume themselves and when they didn’t.