Creating a resume from scratch (or even updating an old version) can be daunting. A resume is an introduction, and there’s nothing worse than a lackluster first impression. If you’re feeling intimidated by the process of encapsulating your professional self in a page, follow these tips to make sure you’re on the right track.
- Your expertise belongs at the top.
Chances are your resume will be scanned for keywords by a computer, but if a hiring manager does glance at it, you want to make sure your best assets are prominently featured.
- Showcase the breadth of your repertoire and include skill levels.
The only thing better than listing your top skills first is identifying the extent of your abilities. When applicable, list either your years of experience or proficiency (e.g. Novice, Intermediate, Expert) for operating systems, tools, and programming languages.
- Bullet points are your best friends.
There’s a reason why listicles and tweets reign supreme in an era of short attention spans: large chunks of text are visually unappealing and difficult to skim. Use bullet points to organize your skills and experience, and break down descriptions of tasks into sub-sections. Allowing the reader’s eye to glide from one point to the next will allow them to ascertain the pertinent information as quickly as possible.
- Choose your verbs carefully.
Your resume documents all that you’ve achieved thus far, and you want a potential employer to know how exactly you implemented your skills and contributed to a team in the past. Use action verbs to emphasize your accomplishments and replace the vague with the specific.
- Reconsider an objective.
While your resume highlights what you bring to a potential employer, an objective specifically outlines what you want out of the desired position. Omit an objective on the resume if you’re also submitting a cover letter. The objective may feel redundant. If the resume is standing alone, however, use the objective to show why you’re passionate about working for the company in question and how the position aligns with your career goals.
- Back your accomplishments up with numbers.
Whenever you can communicate how your work achieved quantifiable results, do so. Numbers provide concrete evidence that you’ve made a noticeable impact at a company.
- Don’t forget “soft” skills.
Tech companies are looking to hire humans, not robots, and signs of being a well-rounded individual gives you an advantage. Soft skills reveal what you bring to the table besides your tech know-how. Being a team player, self-starter, and communicator are just some of the ways that you can hint at the personality behind the PDF.
- In some instances, you should lead with education.
When you’re fresh out of college or changing careers, you may not be able to begin your resume with an abundance of technical skills and relevant experience. Switch up your resume’s organization if your academic career and portfolio of personal projects are your selling points.
- Tweak your resume for every job application, if only slightly.
Though this may seem like an exhausting step, it’s important to constantly update your resume to fit the position for which you’re applying. It may be as simple as rearranging your skill bullet points, or you may have to rewrite the tasks at every past job to better appeal to the potential employer. Research the company and read the position listing closely to see what skills and traits they prize most.
- Concise, clear, and correct win the race.
Last but not least, make sure that every aspect of your resume is svelte and error-free. Triple-check for misspelled or misused words and grammatical errors. Eliminate anything that appears extraneous. Confirm that all dates and numbers are accurate and consistently formatted. Your potential employer will value your diligence.