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Resumé Writing Dos and Don’ts

Resumé Writing Dos and Don’ts

When you’re job hunting, your most powerful tool will be your resumé. It’s the first impression that employers will have of you, so making sure that it’s perfectly polished is an absolute must. Furthermore, in today’s world, employers are buried in online applications; you only have a few seconds to catch an employer’s eye. By following the tips outlined below, you’ll create a strong resumé that will get your foot in the door. 

Tailor Your Resumé

The most important strategy you can implement is to tailor your resumé to the job. Most employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS), which scans your resumé and cover letter for certain keywords related to the role you are applying for. If you submit a generic resumé, chances are that you won’t get past the ATS, even if you’re a perfect fit for the role.

One of the easiest ways to find keywords that will satisfy the ATS is to use words that are directly from the job posting. Look at the section in the posting outlining skills and qualifications, and mirror the language and buzzwords from those sections. Pay special attention to skills that are mentioned in the first few lines or skills that are emphasized and repeated; those are the skills you should be highlighting in your resumé too. 

Talk About Accomplishments

Avoid merely listing your job duties and responsibilities in your resumé. Although they’re important, recruiters are primarily interested in your successes in previous roles. For example, instead of stating “I have 10 years of experience in customer service,” a more eye-catching statement in your resumé would be “I increased customer retention rates to 85% in three months.” 

This does require a bit of foresight on your part. Make sure to keep track of your successes in your current and previous positions; gather concrete examples of your accomplishments, especially if you can attach real, hard numbers to these examples. You can also split your resumé into two separate sections — a “skills” section, listing your job duties and responsibilities to satisfy the ATS, and a detailed “experience” section that lists your accomplishments —  in order to catch the eye of human recruiters. 

Keep Things Concise

While there’s much debate about whether a resumé should be one or two pages long, the bottom line is this: keep things short, sweet, and concise. Hiring managers will likely be skimming through your resumé, so it makes little sense to include skills and past experiences that are irrelevant to the position you’re applying for. 

To avoid bloating your resumé, be as selective as possible about the experiences you include; not only should the experiences you include be relevant, but they should be as recent as possible. Industry trends and policies are constantly changing; by favoring recent experiences, you’re showing that you’re keeping up with these changes and will require very little extra training to update your skills. 

Writing the perfect resumé takes hard work, dedication, and the ability to critically analyze your skills and abilities. Don’t be discouraged by rejection; keep at it, and you’ll eventually find the job that’s right for you.