What it takes to write a great resume:
So you’ve finally gotten your resume written. It may have taken you some time to write your resume; although, in my experience, it’s more about procrastination in getting started than it is about the actual time it takes to get a resume completed. It really doesn’t take that long to write a resume; but it does take time to decide what to include and to organize the information in a logical fashion. Once your resume is written, step away from it for a day or some and then come back to it and see if there’s a way that you can make any improvements.
The reason resumes are so important is because they are the easiest way for an employer to get a snap shot of your skills and accomplishments. Employers need an easy way to weed out candidates and it is the resume that was designed for that purpose. A great resume is one where an employer can easily see your education, honors and awards, relevant coursework, relevant and additional experience, as well as special skills and co-curricular activities that you’ve accomplished.
Resumes are professional documents. They provide employers with relevant information on which to base a decision on whom they’d like to interview and which of the applicants appear to be unqualified. Since the importance of writing a great resume can’t be overlooked, taking the time to improve your resume is often all it takes to get an employer to take notice.
I see many resumes over the course of each day and I often notice that there are usually some very easy ways that can dramatically improve a resume to help it stand out among the rest. Even though I do see a number of mistakes on resumes, oftentimes it’s not really a mistake per se but it’s more about what can be done to portray professional and academic experiences more effectively.
5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Resume:
- Organize your resume to capture the most important information first.If
you are student still in college or a new graduate, include the
Education section of your resume first. Since this is what you’ve been
doing full-time over the course of the past several years, it’s
important to have Education included at the very top of the resume
followed by a Relevant Coursework or Relevant Experience section right
below. Under each heading you will then want to include the most recent
experience first. Employers often skim resumes first to find the most
qualified candidates prior to looking them over more carefully; so when
writing your resume be sure to highlight how you meet the specific
qualifications of the internship or job. Finding a way to organize all
of the information on a resume is often the most difficult part of the
You may choose to include an Objective or Summary of Qualifications section above the Education section of your resume; but, if you do, make sure you focus this section on the requirements of the job. Oftentimes the information from the Objective or Summary of Qualifications can be most accurately communicated in the very first paragraph of a cover letter.
- Highlight your qualifications.Every
resume should have a focus. When applying for an internship or job, it
is your responsibility to fully understand the qualifications listed in
the description and then organize your resume in a way that best
highlights your skills and accomplishments and proves that you are the
perfect candidate for the internship or the job. The easiest way to do
this is to include a Relevant Experience section right after Education
where you can list all of the coursework, volunteer, co-curricular and
previous internship/job experience that is directly applicable to the
internship or job. Don Asher,
well-known speaker and author, highly recommends using the format of
Title, Organization, Location, and Dates for each experience listed on a
resume. This format makes it easy for an employer to find the
information they are looking for based on including the most important
- Use bullet points to display important information.Although
descriptions in a resume can be in paragraph or bullet form, using
bullets makes it easier for employers to read and results in a much
cleaner looking resume. Each bullet should begin with a strong action
verb followed by a concise statement (eliminating all articles, “a, an,
the” whenever possible) that further describes your specific skills and
- Include only relevant information and delete any clutter.The rule for professionals
is to include the last 15 years or so of employment on a resume. For
students and new graduates you will want to include the most relevant
experience first and then, if there’s room, you may want to also include
your summer jobs working at a local restaurant or retail store to
highlight your interpersonal, communication, and team work skills that
are also very important to employers. Try eliminating any extraneous
experiences that do not directly relate to the internship or job,
especially when you have relevant experience that is much more important
to include on the resume. Think of your resume in terms of prime real
estate that should include only the most relevant experience you have at
that particular time.
- Make your resume error-free.If there was ever a time when perfectionism is warranted, it’s when writing a resume or cover letter. Not only does correct spelling and grammar portray an educated candidate, it also shows the employer that you seriously want this position and that you are willing to take the time to do everything possible in order to get it.
By improving your resume you improve your results. Since resumes and cover letters are designed to get qualified candidates an interview, not taking the time to improve these documents can greatly impact the number of interviews you get. Since you’ve already taken the time it takes to write a resume, why not take the little bit of time it takes to improve it in order to get better results.