For most, if not all job seekers, only a few life activities come off as stressful as writing a resume. Figuring out what to include, the best format, and the right words to use to sell yourself can be time-consuming and confusing. The bitter truth, however, is that a proper resume is crucial if you want to stand a chance among the numerous other potential candidates. Recruiters reportedly spend an average of just six seconds reviewing an applicant’s resume, and that means you need to make your case as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, making sure to include certain information will significantly improve your chances of earning an interview. Resumes undoubtedly vary, depending on employment level and industry, but whatever your situation, your resume must never lack these core elements.
1. Contact Information
It may seem obvious, but candidates sometimes forget to start with their contact information. Your name, phone number, email, city, and state must be displayed prominently on your resume, preferably at the top. You can also add a URL to your LinkedIn profile or blog, as long as you’ve prepared them beforehand.
Take note, however, to only include one phone number and email address, as employers typically find multiple contacts confusing. Make it easy for the recruiter to understand how to reach you.
2. Professional Summary
Experts say that a career summary is the movie trailer of a resume because it enables you to highlight the most important things about you upfront. A summary is ideally a brief paragraph of your skills, career wins and goals, which shows the employer the value you’re bringing and prompts them to keep reading your resume.
Most companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to scan and rank resumes so that they can filter off the ones that don’t match their specific requirements. The ATS looks for distinct pre-determined keywords, usually from the job description, to determine whether applicants are good fits for the position. When writing your resume, therefore, go through the job description and point out the keywords in the requirements section. Of course, you will need to add these words naturally in your resume, so, don’t just copy and paste.
Identifying the right keywords and how to use them can be tricky, but with some help, you can learn how to create a winning resume.
Having colorful achievements is great, but in today’s competitive job market, merely listing them can only get you so far. If you want to really pique a reader’s interest, you need to support your quantifiable wins with clear metrics. Numbers show employers the full scope of your accomplishments and enable them to gauge your value more accurately.
Achievements like how your contributions boosted revenue or sales can be easily elaborated with numbers. Just make sure they’re accurate, in case the recruiter decides to follow up with your past employers.
5. Certifications and Credentials
If you have an advanced degree or qualification that can be an asset in your field of work, such as an MBA or RN, include it as an acronym at the top of your resume, after your name. By showcasing it here, you’re making sure the reader sees this critical selling point right from the start. Remember, you only have six seconds to make an impression.
When drafting a resume, it’s easy to focus entirely on details like your education and employment history and overlook the smaller things that could give you an edge over the competition. Therefore, take some time to review your resume and ensure these elements are included. You’re unlikely to get your application in that “Yes” pile without them.