Whether you’re on the market for a new job or your recent applications just aren’t generating traction, we all reach a point when our resume could use a makeover.
Yet, the process of determining what to include and how to structure and format it all — let alone distinguishing between modernized practices and those that are considered outdated — can be a daunting exercise, particularly for those who have been out of the game for a while.
In this spirit, we’ve broken the ideal resume into 4 steps to help you produce something that is more likely to stand out from the competition.
Tip! In addition to the 4 steps below, your resume should contain a header and footer — the header consisting of your name and contact details; the footer indicating the page number.
STEP 1: Craft an Eye-Catching Introduction
More than simply the first thing a reader will see, this is your first opportunity to catch their eye and peak their interest. The introduction is your chance to highlight, in condensed form, what makes you the right candidate for this role. The goal here is to persuade them to continue reading.
Generally speaking, you have 3 options for building the introduction to your resume. As a rule of thumb, a less is more principle is favoured when it comes to resume writing which is why we suggest choosing a headline over a summary or an objective.
Option 1 – Headline (recommended) — Think of this as a 1-line marketing slogan that expresses your value and a bit of your personality. Much like the headline of an article, a concise, clear and compelling resume headlight is an effective way of capturing a reader’s attention. (Click here for a guide to crafting an eye-catching headline).
Example — Results-oriented leader with comprehensive business and technical background.
Tip! Do not write “Headline” as the name of this section — the headline will speak for itself.
Option 2 – Summary (not recommended) — Essentially a 2 – 3 line summation of what will follow in the body of the resume. While not as immediate as a headline, this is an opportunity to highlight your title, length of experience, highest education, and top 2 competencies right off the bat.
Example — Project Manager with 10+ years of experience delivering multi-million-dollar projects. Proficient in both business and technology project management. Experienced in delivering projects on-time and within budget. PMP Certified.
Option 3 – Objective (not recommended) — This can be viewed as a promise you are making to the reader by expressing your desire to work for them, to contribute to their business, and to develop your skills. Now viewed as a somewhat outdated device, an Objective statement is more often used by those changing careers or writing an entry-level resume with little or no experience.
Example — Experienced Project Manager seeking a position in your company to support the delivery of projects on time and within budget.
STEP 2: Highlight Your Relevant Skills and Achievements
This is your opportunity to detail your most relevant skills and your noteworthy accomplishments. Identify keywords from the job description that you can align to your own experience, and highlight how you’ve successfully employed these in the past.
- Possible headings: Profile Summary, Core Competencies, Qualifications Highlight
- Use bullets instead of paragraphs; about 6-10 bullets; 1-2 lines each
- Open each bullet with a verb (e.g. Developed, Led, Managed, Delivered) or an adjective (e.g. Proficient in, Experienced in delivering, Extensive)
- Bold important keywords to draw attention
- Detail key achievement, technologies, and accomplishments relevant to the job
Certification is about the best advantage, but be sure you get the right kind of education.
STEP 3: Present Your Professional Experience
This is a chronological list of your work experience, presenting your previous employers, the duration of each employment, the duties held and the achievements reached.
- List your most recent experience first
- Detail the name of each employer, time period of your employment (month and year of start and end dates) and your job title
- Use 4-6 bullets per assignment to explain your key responsibilities, deliverables and measurable accomplishments (if possible) within each role
- Include proper spacing after each assignment to ensure each item is distinct and well formatted for readability
STEP 4: Detail Your Education
This final section of your resume should be reserved for your education, certifications and professional development courses.
- Detail the name of the course/program/certificate, the source/institution, and the year completed/acquired
- Only include those items relevant to the role
- Be careful to exclude any certifications that have expired
Having followed these 4 steps in preparing a well-crafted introduction and sections highlighting your skills, education and experience, you will have successfully prepared a professional resume that you can feel confident sending to recruiters and hiring managers. And for even more insight into the ins and outs of getting recruiter attention, here are 10 ways to get recruiters attention!
Need help revamping your resume? ProViso Consulting is here to support your career success! Our expert team can help guide you through the 4 steps necessary to prepare your resume for any of our job listings. View jobs now