Guest Posted on Hyperfine Academy
Have you applied for “that job?” You know, that one that sounds absolutely perfect, almost too good to be true? The one that keeps you reaching for your phone, waiting to get a call or email scheduling an interview. The one that makes you start swiping left to other decent postings because none of them compare? The one that never calls you back and you’re left pining over how you let it slip through your fingers.
You know you’re qualified. You check every single box they were looking for. And you wrote a great email about how much you love their company and that you think you would be a great fit. In fact, you KNOW you’d be a great fit. So why didn’t you even get an interview?
There can only be one answer. Your resume failed you.
DON’T LET YOUR RESUME TURN YOUR DREAM JOB INTO THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Your resume is YOU on paper. At the same time, your resume has its own language and formatting requirements that can make it really difficult to write if you don’t know how.
SO, I’M GOING TO TEACH YOU HOW
I’m going to lay out step by step how to write your resume, so you can land the next dream job that comes by.
Decide what program you’re going to use. Most applicants will use a standard Word template, but if you’re in the design world, your resume’s design is almost as important as the content. It illustrates your creativity and helps you stand out. So, choose the program you’ll be most comfortable in, such as InDesign or Photoshop. I’ve known designers to get creative with AutoCAD too. Then again, if you’re a Microsoft Word wiz, that can also be a good choice.
Define your goal. Grab a sticky note and fill in this sentence: I am a _________ seeking a _________. This will ensure your resume is targeted to the position you want. DON’T add this to your resume though. The objective statement is waayyy out of style.
Set up your format. Take some time to layout all your information before you start writing the content. Add all your contact information, your degrees and training, and structure your professional experience (your work history) section.
Here’s an overview of the sections your resume needs:
Skill Summary (#8)
Professional Experience (#4)
Professional Development (#6)
Technical Skills (#9)***
If you are entry-level, education should be before your professional experience. If not, it should be after professional experience.** The technical skills section is only used for positions that require a lot of technical skills, ie. programmer, web developer, designer. It goes after the skill summary and before professional experience for hands-on techs, or after professional development for management positions.
4. Experience Section
Job Heading: Company name, location, job title, and dates. Use a consistent format and always present it right before the job description so that ATS (Applicant Tracking System) scans can read it correctly. For dates, only use months if you have no gaps. If you ended a job in January and didn’t start the next job until April, then just use years. Locations should be the company location, unless you telecommute, then use your own location. Also, use common job titles when possible, ie. use technical support specialist rather than geek squad member, or pastry chef rather than cupcake artist.
ABC Architects, Boston MA 2012 – Current
Job Description: 3-6 sentences focusing on the big picture details of your job. Use compelling, active language with high-impact verbs.
Accomplishments: These are bullet points (typically 3 – 5) that set you apart from the other applicants. This is where you want to come across as a “doer” rather than an “achiever.” It’s important to highlight achievements that have measurable results, as well areas that directly impact business, such as pacifying unhappy clients, mediating and uniting groups, and motivating others.
Blah: Supported company sales goals by creating client proposals.
Awesome: Increased project close rate from 50% to 80% by implementing redesigned client proposal formats and fostering collaborative atmosphere during meeting.
Blah: Trained and developed employees to reduce membership cancellation rate.
Awesome: Weighed down with 70% membership cancellation rate, implemented improved sales training with ongoing development and comprehensive on-boarding process from hire date through first 90 days of employment.
You also want to phrase your accomplishments so that the results are first.
No: Utilized extensive knowledge of transportation logistics to significantly improve efficiency of deliveries by 35% and accuracy to 95%
Yes: Increased delivery efficiency by 35% and accuracy to 95% by utilizing extensive knowledge of transportation logistics.
By using descriptive words like enthusiasm, foster, leadership, vision, motivation you also can imply your soft skills as well as your measurable achievements.
5. Create a career note at the end of your experience section for any jobs older than
10-15 years (unless extremely relevant). You can also use this if you held the same position at several companies and want to avoid being too repetitive.
Additional experience as Position for Company (date-date), and as Position for Company (date-date).
The dates may be eliminated if you don’t want to show the length of your work history.
6. Education Section
List your degrees in reverse chronological order, including the dates if obtained in the past 10 years, omitting if the degree is older than 10 years. Include a projected graduation date if the degree is in progress. Be consistent in your formatting. Abbreviations (MBA, BA in Science) are acceptable.
For US job seekers, only include high school if you have no advanced training or college AND you graduated less than 3 years ago. If a degree is no longer in progress but you completed relevant coursework, you can include a professional development section.
Bachelor of Science in Architecture, 2015
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Master of Architecture | Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI
7. Professional Development Section
This section is for additional training, licenses, certifications, and courses that are relevant to your goals and typically follows the education section. The only exception would be if you are changing careers and your licenses or certifications are relevant to your new career but your formal degrees are not.
8. Skill Summary
While this section may come first, it’s often easiest to write last. Your skill summary is the leading portion of your resume and contains your key accomplishments, skillsets, work ethic etc. This is also where many of your keywords for ATS scanning will be featured. Make sure this section is aligned with your goals and doesn’t just list all of the skills you possess.
I usually recommend you customize the resume title to match the exact phrasing of the job you are applying to. So, here you want to use Geek Squad member if you are applying for that position, and Technical Support Specialist if another company uses that title.
The power statement has pretty much replaced the objective statement in resumes. It uses employer-centric language and is typically right below the resume title, either on its own or as the first sentence of the summary paragraph. Employers take 10 seconds to scan your resume while DECIDING whether to keep reading or not. The power statement uses eye-catching language to illustrate in that 10-second scan what you can do for the employer.
Highly adept Architect with 10 years’ experience leading large scale commercial design projects for international markets.
Creative designer with broad-based success developing well prepared to transition related education and practicum to a role as an architectural intern.
Use words such as self-starter, creative, motivated, resourceful, decisive, results-oriented, solutions-oriented, highly adept, problem-solver, adaptable.
The rest of the skill summary consists of combination of the following sections. For entry-level, choose one, for mid-level and above, choose two:
The summary paragraph describes what you can offer the company by highlighting the scope of your expertise. It is concise, only 4 – 6 lines long, and does NOT use personal pronouns.
Areas of Expertise
Emphasize hard skills in a bullet point format, either three columns of 3-5 lines or 2 columns of 4-6 lines. Make sure each column has the same number of bullet points.
IF you have measurable results ($, %, #), you can include a brief section with signature achievements. Make sure to reword the accomplishments in the professional experience section or remove them altogether if you have other accomplishments to include.
9. Technical Skills
Often in list or bullet format, this section can either go after professional experience (for management level) or in the skill summary (for hands-on techs). Choose your most relevant and most marketable skills, and combine categories, ie. Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator) rather than Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator.
10. Review and edit
Ask yourself if the content clearly illustrates your expertise and background as it relates to your goals. Have you eliminated information that is not compelling or not related to your goals?
11. Things to Omit
Personal Information (ie. hobbies, interests, your social security number…) beyond your phone number, email, location, and either a LinkedIn profile, Behance profile, or portfolio website.
Part-time vs full-time specifications as this can only create a negative impression; hiring personnel may view skills or accomplishments from part-time positions as less important.
Save authorization to work in the US and Visa requirements for the interview.
Typing speed is also unnecessary; in today’s market it’s assumed that you will have adequate typing skills, and this doesn’t add any value.
Publications, research, or speaking engagement sections (unless specifically relevant for a position such as a college professor).
References are also not included in the resume but will be expected to be provided at an interview.
Words and Phrases to Avoid
Can’t or Won’t
12. Scan your Resume once more to make sure you included:
Power & Action Words: Accomplish, Acquire, Activate, Advertise, Accelerate, Brief, Build, calculate, change, Collaborate, Conceptualize, Condense, Connect, Construct, Convert, Coordinate, Cultivate, Dedicate, Delegate, Design, Develop, Devise, Direct, Educate, Emphasize, Encourage, Energize, Enforce, Enhance, Establish, Execute, Focus, Gain, Generate, Handle, Identify, Illustrate, Implement, Initiate, Increase, Innovate, Inspire, Integrate, Launch, Lift, Market, Mediate, Merge, Motivate, Negotiate, Obtain, Organize, Outperform, Persuade, Plan, Prepare, Prioritize, Produce, Program, Promote, Propose, Provide, Publicize, Run, Reach, Recommend, Reduce, Research, Resolve, Schedule, Secure, Share, Showcase, Succeed, Supervise, Surpass, Teach, Target, Track, Train, Transform, Unite, Upgrade, Utilize, Validate, Volunteer, Weigh, Write Win
Keywords: Search job postings you might apply to and use similar words or phrases in your resume
Industry Buzzwords: You should know the buzzwords in your industry. Sprinkle them throughout your resume and even your cover letter to demonstrate you are a part of the industry and you understand their jargon.
BONUS: This can apply to your resume or cover letter.
Include specific Company Values for the company you’re applying to; use terms that the company uses to describe themselves on their own website. For example, if the company describes itself as innovative, try to use innovative or innovate in your resume or cover letter. Don’t repeat whole phrases, just pull out a few key words. You can also add a sentence or two in your cover letter stating what drew you to apply for that position, ie. the office culture or the types of projects.
That's all she wrote! Make sure you check out the free resume template bundle here to get you started!