Creating a resume can be stressful. Where do you start? Is there some kind of template you could use? Should you focus on your accomplishments or job responsibilities?
I am no resume expert, but from trying to create my own resume, I’ve learnt a thing or two about what makes a resume look exciting or bland.
The following are a couple of tips to consider while creating your resume:
1. Carefully Build Your Bullet Points: It is of utmost importance that you create interesting bullet points on your resume, since they are what would be used by your potential employer to determine if you have the required skills and credentials.
You can create great resume bullet points by spending some time reflecting about your past. Think about the professional experiences that you are most proud of, and then apply the STAR framework to convert these experiences into concise and engaging bullet points for your resume. You also want to keep your bullet points polished by using active verbs like ‘led’, ‘designed’, and ‘managed’ and avoiding passive verbs like ‘assisted’. A list of active verbs can be found here.
2. Be Flexible with Responsibilities and Accomplishments: A lot of resume experts will tell you to focus on accomplishments (results you achieved) instead of responsibilities (things you did) while building your resume. While this may be true in a lot of situations, I’ve come to realize that this might actually be bad advice for people applying for technical roles. Sometimes, all your potential employer wants is a Java programmer, or a mechanical engineer with expertise in fluid dynamics. In such situations, you want to sell yourself by highlighting your competencies in the relevant areas.
A creative way of solving the responsibility/accomplishment problem is to start each job role with a single line that summarizes your responsibilities, and then focus your bullet points on your accomplishments. A template for doing this can be found here.
3. Quantify Your Accomplishments: Whenever possible, use numbers to communicate your accomplishments. For example, let’s say you created some innovative process for your company. Great! How much did this process save the company? Did it improve productivity? By how much? These numbers help to make your accomplishments more concrete. However, it is noteworthy to mention that too much quantification can also be a bad idea. Don’t make yourself the super hero that we all know you’re not. 🙂
4. Adapt Your Resume to Suit The Particular Job: Your resume is a sales document. Your sales objective in this situation is to get you that first job interview. One way to increase your chance of success is to adapt your resume to fit the job requirements. You want to convince your employer that your skills and experiences make you the best person suited for that particular job.
So how does your one resume fit the myriad of jobs that you will inevitably apply to? It doesn’t. Instead, you have to adapt your resume to fit each job application. Have an archive of bullet points ready, from which you can easily create your highly customized resumes.
5. Start With Your Best Bullet Points: For each of your job roles, start with the bullet point that demonstrates your greatest or most interesting experience. This way, you can immediately grab the attention of your reader, and keep them wanting more.
6. Structure Your Work Experience in Reverse Chronological Order: Starting with your latest job role, and working your way down to your first job makes your career progression easily identifiable.
7. Create Effective Summaries: I don’t like resume summaries. they’re usually full of words like ‘synergy’, which mostly mean nothing. If you decide to have a summary, try to make it a customized single sentence that clearly communicates the skills and experiences which make you a competitive applicant.
I’m sure there are more than 7 tips for creating a great resume. What did I miss?
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