Top 20 Resume Writing Tips That Every Job Seeker Should Know
What are the important points to be added to a Resume? Which part of your career journey is relevant and which is to be avoided What are the highlights in a resume that attracts an employer? Before starting to draft your resume, probably you would go through a series of questions and doubts in your mind as above. Do not worry, this blog goes into detail to describe the top 20 resume writing tips which will make you job-ready. First of all, let us start with the concepts of resume writing.
What is a Resume?
The Resume comes from a French word meaning “Summary”. A resume represents your experience, education, skills, and accomplishments in a nutshell portrayed in the form of a document. In short, it is the picture of your professional life. Resumes are most generally used to seek employment.
Why Resume is important?
A resume is the only prior document an employer has in his hands before meeting you in person. The first process before an interview is to screen the resume of potential applicants for the particular job. It therefore should represent your true self and the required skillset in your resume that lands your resume in selection. It is hence a very significant step to draft a winning piece of resume that attracts any employer. These resume writing tips will help you do so.
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Who should follow these resume writing tips?
Well, to be frank, any individual who is seeking a job has to know these resume writing tips before drafting his/her resume. Whether it is for freshers, college students, or experienced professionals these resume writing tips will come into aid.
Let us, deep-dive, into these resume writing tips in this blog, that will help you get hired. Before that, let us go through the most common interchangeable word for a resume- CV.
What is a CV?
CV stands for “Curriculum Vitae” which is the Latin word translating to “course of your life”. A CV is a detailed description of the step-by-step journey of your career which includes all your achievements, publications in your name, conferences you have attended, and other personal information.
A CV needs to be updated every time you achieve something academically or professionally. For example: If you gained a new certification, completed an internship, got a new job, or published an article/journal.
A CV covers your in-depth picture of your professional life. However, this Curriculum Vitae can range from 2-8 pages and there is no limit or standard thumb rule for its length.
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How is a Resume different from a CV?
Unlike the CV, a resume is a short, brief, and to-the-point document created to apply for a specific job. A resume is usually 1 page long in most cases. In case you have more than 15+ years of experience or extra information that is very crucial to be mentioned, then it can be extended to 2 pages.
A resume usually includes work experience and skills that are relevant to the particular job being applied for. Also, a good resume will highlight certain contributions made in the previous work or specific skills that you possess which can be beneficial for the present applied position.
In most cases, a resume is accompanied by a cover letter that speaks about the main intention of your job application. Also, the significant aspect of including a cover letter is to explain how you are going to be of help to the company with your skills, knowledge, and experience highlighted on your resume.
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So, a CV and Resume differ by these 3 broad categories namely: length, function, and type of information.
- Length: As mentioned earlier, A resume is shorter in length by 1 page whereas a CV can extend up to 3-4 pages or even more depending upon the amount of experience of the candidate.
- Function: In most cases, a CV is used academically to apply for a research program, PH.D., or staff of university (for the position of lecturer/professor). But a resume is used to apply for a job. However, a CV is also used in the latter case the majority of times.
- Type of Information: A CV is a complete diary of your academic qualifications, achievements, certifications, courses/training attended, conferences and publications. It is universal and comprehensive in nature which can be updated with time. On the other hand, a resume is customized for the specific job being applied for with a greater focus on professional experience and accomplishments rather than academics.
What are the ideal contents of a Resume?
Before heading to resume writing tips, one should necessarily have in his mind the contents to be included in a resume if you are starting afresh. Following is the basic outline of an ideal resume. However, the order could be altered according to your preference.
Contents of a resume:
- Full name of the Candidate
- Personal Details (Profile picture and Contact Information)
- Resume summary
- Work Experience
- Education Details
- Awards / Certifications if any
- Relevant Interests/Hobbies/ Languages
Detail explanation of each point is addressed in the following section of the top 20 resume writing tips.
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Top 20 Resume writing tips
The resume writing tips section is divided into three categories in which each category details the specifics more elaborately and accurately. The first category describes everything that is to be included in the contents of a resume and would be very useful for any fresher attempting to draft his first resume. The next category highlights the vital aspects in a resume that many are not aware of and the third category encompasses the formatting and language guidelines.
Resume writing tips – All about Content
Before starting your draft, having a resume template as a reference is of paramount importance. It helps you identify the necessary sections to include and that way you might not miss out on the essential information on your resume. Designing a resume from scratch is also a time-consuming process. Basically, a resume template acts as a good foundation to get you started.
There are a lot of resume templates available online with varied designs and layouts. To start with, you can use Microsoft Resume Templates for simple profiles or even use templates with Canva for creative ones. However, keeping the template as a guideline you can alter as per your requirements.
All the details have to be pertaining to you only. Make sure you provide legitimate information with accurate spellings in this section. Personal details include your full name, profile picture, and contact information.
a)Name and profile picture: Provide your full name, although it is not essential to expand your initials in the profile section. A profile picture of the candidate can be added if desired, though it is not compulsory. However, including a professional photo or not on your resume is your decision. Adding your photo will be highly recommended if you are applying for a sales or marketing or fashion industry job.
b) Contact Information: Your contact information has to be updated with the current email id and latest structured version of your LinkedIn Profile. Most of the employers go through your LinkedIn profile to assess you. So, confirm that all the details presented on LinkedIn are trustable and if you are providing your phone number, give the one you are currently using/ permanent number, so that you may not miss it even if the recruiter calls you after some months/days post the application.
The basic components of the personal details section are your name, email id, and LinkedIn profile which have to be accurately presented. The rest of the details such as your profile picture, phone number, date of birth, place of stay are optional. It is preferred not to include your parent’s details and their occupation on your resume since the recruiters might get a feel that you are just filling up space.
It is a branding section to highlight yourself in a few lines. Use this space to throw light on your key skills, qualifications, achievements, experience (any of this one/two or all can be added depending on your journey) relevant to the job you are applying for. Resume Summary nowadays is also called a Career Snapshot.
Make your career snapshot look crisp, short, and brief. Present the snapshot with bullet points, maximum being 4-5 points. Your Resume Summary or Career Snapshot in short should tell the recruiter, how you can provide value to the company or what benefit the company would get by hiring you.
If you are a fresher with no work experience, that is completely fine. Add in your academic projects or internships. You could also replace this experience section with the academic projects section. Try to draw the recruiter’s attention to your credible skills that could benefit the company.
However, if you are an experienced individual, then these resume writing tips in the experience section will help you.
a) Include the most relevant and latest experience on your resume. As a thumb rule, your recent 10-15 years of career history can be displayed and which are most relevant to the job you are applying for.
b) Curate your experience through bullet points with no longer than 5-6 bullets.
c) Do not stuff in too many jargons in the experience section making it difficult to read for the person reading it. Remember that the first person screening your resume might be a recruiter or assistant not from a technical background and should not be neglecting your resume for high-level jargon. Just add in relevant experience with simple written language.
d) Show in numbers – wherever possible use figures, numbers, facts in your bullet points. For Example, how many people did you tutor/manage? By what percentage you accomplished your goals? Quantifying your achievements will give a fair picture to the recruiter about your commitment to the work and the level of responsibility.
e) Show, don’t tell – Instead of listing all job duties on your resume, display what are the results you contributed to the previous company and how it can help the present company. Specific benefits are much promising to read. For eg: “I increased the sales engagement by 25%” is far better than “I have 10 years of marketing experience.”A Good Resume exhibits actions and results.
f) Do not try to avoid nontraditional work- There is no rule that only paid or full-time jobs have to be listed. If you feel that your freelance job, contract work, part-time work, or any volunteer role could benefit the role you are applying for, then do include it in the resume in chronological order.
a)Fit in your education qualifications with the reverse chronological order with your highest or latest degree being first.
b) It is usually advisable to list your college degrees only rather than stuffing all your primary school, high school, 11th, and 12th certificates altogether. No recruiter wants to know which school you studied in 8th
c) Highlight your Honors not your Marks- Your GPAs or percentage are no more necessary on your resumes. Instead, your achievements during your education portray more value. For eg: “Headed English Club in College” is much better than “Achieved 98% in English”. Always make sure to add your leadership roles or any extra co-curricular activities you were engaged, in your school/college days.
d) Mention online degrees- It is the digital age now and if you have any online certifications that can strengthen your profile do mention them. Online distance education programs or professional certificates are on the rise nowadays.
This section plays an integral part in shaping you as an individual. Add all the skills that are relevant to your job profile and other skills that you are blessed with.
a) Display your skills in categories: Instead of just citing out all your skills randomly in points, categorize your skills. For eg: Technical Skills, Software Skills, Language/Literary Skills, Digital Skills, etc. According to your proficiency, highlight/bold the ones that you feel will add credit to your profile.
b)No Unnecessary Filling– Just because you have fewer skills, it doesn’t mean you need to fill the space with fancy skills to impress the recruiter. Do avoid skills that don’t fit you in. For eg: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving are all very obsolete ways of stuffing up. Try to add those skills that you have showcased in your career so far. You never know, your recruiter might ask you to demonstrate/ justify the skill on your resume. Be Prepared!
Awards and Certifications:
a) Illustrate your key achievements throughout your career journey. You could also demonstrate any accolades you have received in your previous company or secured a rank in any professional examinations. Other than these competencies, you could definitely add in rewards that portray your varied interests.
For eg: winner in national level painting or states level runner etc. Again, take care not to add any trivial rewards that do not add any credibility like “1st prize in a running race during 7th standard” or anything as such.
b) Incorporate all the certifications that level up your profile. The digital age is all about assessing your abilities and efficiency on digital platforms. Whether it is LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, or Google certifications, they provide an extra edge on your resume.
Interests or hobbies:
This section usually covers the last part of your resume. Make it short and brief. Add in your interests or hobbies with bullet points and it seldom requires any explanation. Be extra careful with controversial interests and try to avoid adding them such as “engaging in XYZ political campaigns”.
You could also plug in your language proficiency in this section if you know any extra language. The language section helps you majorly when you are applying to multinational companies or companies with foreign clients or any international country jobs.
Resume writing tips – That helps you stand out
It is always helpful to keep a resume outline wherein you include all the details of your career journey packed into one file. This resume outline could include the list of all the old positions you worked for, awards and achievements in different activities, various projects, and other such requirements useful for particular jobs only.
This master resume or resume outline on your computer will help you swap different information in and out depending on the job you are applying for. Once your outline is ready later it is just a matter of cutting and pasting related details together. Overall, this master resume will benefit you to craft a unique resume for every job.
Review Resume Examples:
Once your first draft is ready, look out for resume samples from your industry to have an idea of including any jargon on your resume. Also, by reviewing examples you might realize that you would be missing some software tools/ skills that you already possess but not included on your resume. Having a reference every time helps.
It is often a vital task that is seldom followed. Next time you draft a resume application, remember to use keywords that are paramount in your industry. Look out for job descriptions that have the most words in common, and try to instill them on your resume. If possible, try to highlight those keywords in your bullet points.
You are not just targeting your recruiters for the job but you are also getting noticed by the applicant tracking systems. Nowadays, most companies use Software Bots which are automated machines reading your resumes before a human does. Once you have those keywords on your resume, then you have passed the screening machines.
Explain your Gaps:
Some of the applicants have long gaps on their resumes and tend to neglect them without addressing the issue. Always deal with your gaps. Use the only period of months or years to specify the gaps rather than dates (Eg: Aug 2020- Feb 2021). Also, give a proper explanation of your gap year like company layoff, pandemic crisis, company closed, etc.
Similarly, in case if you have too many job-hopping or frequent continuous job shifts, then give a polite explanation on your resume. Do not make it seem very rude like less salary, bad boss or more work since it will question your abilities. Explain with diplomatic and genuine reasons such as relocating to a new city, looking for career growth as such.
Best above the fold:
This term refers to the front half of a folded newspaper in the marketing world. Basically, the first impression any reader would get by scanning your resume is what counts. Statistics say that recruiters spend only 6 seconds per resume which means you have an average of 6s to catch the attention of the hiring managers.
Try to include your competencies, strong points, important skills, relevant experiences in the first half of your resume. Also, make sure to add your keywords here. In short, you could craft a resume summary as explained earlier in this blog.
Resume writing tips – Formatting, Language and Finishing Touches
Make it Scannable:
a) If you want the recruiters to notice your resume within a short glance, then craft your details to the point and make it brief. Make your resume short and direct.
b) Use simple fonts such as Times New Roman or Calibri or Arial. Do not hop in for fancy fonts. The main objective is to make it readable.
c) Use a font size of 12 to have a good amount of white space on the page.
d) Justify the alignment and use appropriate margins.
e) Make your text Bold for important skills or keywords. Also, demarcate the sections with bold or increased fonts or colored headings.
f) Use pleasant Colors throughout your paper. Fix the body of the document in black However, your name, contact information, section headings could be in other colors mostly in dark blue or dark green. Please make a point to use dark colors that can be seen after printed and not light colors like yellow or peach or brown. Also do not use eye-catchy colors like red or orange or maroon which does not suit the professional front.
g) Overall format your resume to make it scannable.
It is advisable to communicate clearly and aptly on your resume. Use active voice with the right set of verbs. Also make use of power words such as “achieved”, “attained”, “accomplished”, “earned”, “established”, “designed” to describe your projects or roles or rewards. Also avoid using buzz words such as “go-getter”, “go-to person” and other text languages like “u”, “y” which makes it look unprofessional.
Mix up word use:
While writing your resume, try to utilize synonyms for repeating words. For instance, readers could get bored if every bullet point starts with “Responsible for”. Make wise usage of thesaurus and mix up the word use.
Before finalizing it, consistently check for errors. Whether it is language errors or grammatical or punctuation errors or spell mistakes, ensure that all are taken care of. You could use Grammarly or any software to inspect for errors. Proofread your resume as many times possible before uploading it.
Whether you are emailing your resumes or uploading them on job sites, it is mandatory to save them in PDF format every time. Never upload in MS Word or any editable formats. Likewise, designate the file appropriately with your name and do not give any funky titles to your resume while sending it like “Resume edited” or “Resume latest” or “My Resume” or such things. The right title to use is yourname_resume: “Rahul_Resume” or “Anjali_Resume”.
Update your Resume:
As and when you get a new degree or step up a new career ladder or gain an extra skill, update that on your profile. Constantly refresh it and improvise your resume. Another way to keep yourself up to date is to look out for trending competencies needed in the job market. Once you have a hold of what is essentially needed then you could always upskill and amend your resume.
Last but not the least, the major step in reaching out to a company or a recruiter is to portray that, you can make an impact in their work. Your resume should speak out how you can add value to a company with your abilities, extra knowledge, or experiences. There is a lot of competition out there and you got to depict yourself well.
These top 20 resume writing tips are adequate for any fresher or even experienced individual to help him/her stand out. Go through all the points and incorporate them while drafting your resume. I am sure these resume writing tips will make you job-ready!! All the best!
Go and Ace the Job Market!!