Making a resume is one of the first steps in starting a new career, and it’s a big one. Employers use resumes to help them determine who to invite to interview for a position and, ultimately, who to hire. Employers commonly see dozens or even hundreds of resumes in response to a job opening, so it’s essential to take the time to make sure that your resume stands out.
Reading about various tips for a resume is crucial for helping yours to stand out – and avoiding common resume mistakes. Here are 8 tips that will help you write a better resume that stands out and leaves a good impression on your potential employer.
1. Determine what an employer is looking for and tailor your resume to it.
If you want to make the best resume possible, don’t let yourself send out a resume that is generic to every hiring employer. When you write a generic resume, the employer can usually tell, and it will lack the details that typically help it stand out amongst the dozens or hundreds of other resumes that the employer will be looking at.
Employers want to find the perfect fit for their company, and they want to know that applicants have read their job listing and fit the criteria they’re looking for. While time-consuming, this is one of the most important items you’ll find on any list of dos and don’ts of resume etiquette. Take the time to find out exactly what the employer needs and explain how you fit that requirement.
2. Use industry keywords for the job you are applying for.
Because employers receive so many applications, many of them do not read all of the resumes they receive in their entirety. Companies that receive hundreds of applications will commonly filter their resumes, looking for specific keywords. These keywords are often industry-based. This brings us to another one of the most important resume writing tips you can learn.
You can often find these keywords by carefully reviewing the job posting that you are responding to. Pay close attention to the requirements and skillsets that the employer is searching for. Try to include those keywords as naturally as possible within your resume where relevant in order to get through this filtering process.
3. Ensure your resume is visually appealing.
While there are many resume best practices, some focus specifically on making sure that your resume stands out enough visually that an employer is likely to read and consider it. It’s essential that your resume is visually appealing. However, avoid over-the-top designs that might make your resume look less professional. To help give your resume a better look, consider these resume and CV tips:
- Choose a professional font style, such as Times New Roman, Helvetica or Calibri.
- Choose a font size that is appropriate for your resume, generally size 12.
- If you use a template to boost the aesthetic of your resume, keep the designs minimal and make sure that these designs are not distracting to the content of the resume itself.
- You can add a splash of color to your resume, such as with headers or highlighted details, but don’t go overboard.
- Typically, it’s best to use a white background, black font, and a third color, such as green or blue, for these aesthetic details.
4. Keep things concise.
As you learn these resume suggestions and you begin building yours, it’s essential that you strive to keep your resume as concise as possible. Make sure that you only include information that will help you stand out among other applicants. Avoid fluff, repetition, and unrelated topics.
Most resumes, such as those for entry-level positions, should fit on one page. However, industry-specific positions and higher positions may be, at most, two pages long.
5. Include skills that are valuable to the industry you are applying for.
To create the best resume possible, include the skills you possess that will be valuable for the industry you are applying for. This may consist of skills and attributes or experience with various software tools. When tailoring your resume for different employers, always double-check the skill section of your resume to make sure that you’ve removed any skills that are not relevant to the particular position you are applying for.
If you are creating a resume with no experience, you can highlight skills and achievements that you’ve made outside of the workplace. This may include your GPA or other schooling-related accomplishments. You can also include any other types of work you’ve done, such as babysitting or housekeeping gigs, if applicable.
6. Create a cover letter to submit with your resume.
When making a resume to submit to a job posting, you should always create and submit a cover letter to accompany it. An employer does not always require cover letters, but submitting one anyway gives you an additional chance to stand out compared to other candidates.
When creating your cover letter, ensure that your cover letter’s design and the color scheme match the one you included in your resume.
7. Know when and how to include references.
While references were more commonly included in resumes in the past, that’s not always the case today. Now, knowing when to include references and what references to include are key.
The job posting should inform you if references are required. If they are, try to stick to professional references over personal ones. The best references are those who can speak about any relevant experience or skills that you have, based on the position you are applying for. Like your resume, your reference list should be tailored to the job posting.
8. Always proofread before you submit your resume.
Make sure you have created the best resume possible before submitting your application. Proofread your resume and check for any spelling or grammatical errors. There are several programs and online tools that can help you proofread your resume. You can also ask trusted colleagues and friends to review your resume and take any tips that they may suggest into consideration.