How to Write an Impactful Resume

Are you writing a resume for the first time? Whether it’s your first time applying for a job or the tenth, you need a killer resume to make a good first impression.

A good resume displays your education, employment history, work experience, and other accomplishments in the best way possible.

If you apply for a senior position, your resume can give you an edge over other employees. In many cases, recruiters do not read the entire resume.

They will scan a resume for important keywords and the type of work history and education they require to fill a position.

Furthermore, various online tools check resumes for keywords. If your resume does not have the relevant keywords, recruiters will not consider your resume.

Research reveals that a recruiter spends no more than thirty-one seconds on a resume.

While that’s an average estimate, recruiters won’t spend their precious time on a document that does not showcase an employee’s work experience and education details in the right manner.

How to Write a Professional Resume

If you want to write a resume from scratch or need to adjust your existing resume, here are some helpful tips to help you apply with an impressive resume.

1. Start with a Header

That’s the section where you add personal information, including:

  • Name
  • A professional email address
  • Contact number(s)
  • Links to portfolios, personal websites, blogs, or LinkedIn

Remember to update this information whenever you change your phone number or email address. Your email address should also sound professional.

Do not add too many links or email addresses in this section. Keep it short and simple.

2. Professional Summary or Resume Objective

Before listing your employment history, add your professional summary that summarizes your entire work experience.

This introductory paragraph can have three to five lines and gives information about your most relevant skills, training, and qualification.

Related: Resume Objective Examples

3. Employment History or Work Experience

List your previous job titles along with the employers’ names and addresses. Don’t forget to write the beginning and end dates for every role. If you’ve served in multiple countries or regions, also add geographic locations.

Applicants can briefly add responsibilities and accomplishments, depending on the format of their resume.

4. Skills Section

This section is critical, especially if you don’t have too much to write in your work experience section. The skills section offers an overview of your hard and soft skills.

Today’s employers are always on the lookout for professionals who possess exceptional communication, team management or other skills.

For instance, if you are an engineer or a programmer, but you have leadership experience, don’t forget to add it in this section. The key is to list terms and not write stories.

Be as concise as you can and use terms like ‘strong communication skills,’ ‘extensive management experience,’ etc.

5. Education Section

If you are wondering why the education section comes in last, the reason is quite simple. Employers usually first glance at your work experience and take note of your skills before considering your education history.

Nonetheless, your qualification is also crucial for employers to determine whether you have the certification or license to perform a job.

For instance, if you apply for a technical job, you must possess a degree or a diploma that will give you an edge over an applicant with good experience but no qualification.

Write the full name of every educational institution and the exact title of your certifications and degree. You can also list any accomplishments or education-related awards in this section.

6. Choose a Template

Whether you go for a traditional or a modern template, your resume should look professional. Here are a few tips for choosing the right template for your resume.

Fresh graduates can choose an entry-level template because they do not have any employment history. They can add skills, education and any volunteer experience to improve their recruitment chances.

When applying for an IT or an innovation company, choose a modern design that communicates that you are a tech-savvy individual. Sleek and modern resume templates come with unique formatting to highlight every section differently.

Stick to a traditional template if you are applying for a senior role or a management position. Add all the sections we listed above and add a cover letter to elaborate on your extensive experience.

8 Tips for Writing an Impressive Resume

Now that you know how to write or adjust your professional resume, here are some helpful tips that can help you land your dream job.

1. Create Multiple Resumes

Before you start writing or tweaking your resume, remember one thing. There is no cookie-cutter template or one-size-fits-all approach for a resume. That’s one reason why you may need multiple resumes for applying to different jobs.

Every time you apply for a job, you will have to structure your resume to fit the industry standard for your position to increase your approval chances.

2. Add all Important Information

Regardless of the industry you choose to work for, your job application includes a resume that lists your credentials, work experience, and accomplishments, as well as a cover letter. However, listing this information in the right order is tricky.

The best way is to list everything in chronological order to make a good first impression.

While adding important info to your resume is important, skip personal details such as your home address. Stick to town or city and add an email address along with your telephone number that opens communication doors.

3. Focus on Clarity

Information and clarity are the two most important elements of a decent resume. For example, when mentioning your employment history, don’t just say ‘responsible for marketing and promotion.’

Not only is this statement vague, but it offers little information about how you helped your previous company achieve monthly or yearly business goals.

Instead, give more clarity by saying ‘managed a ten-person marketing team and boosted brand exposure by 80%.’

Again, you will have to customize these milestones according to the job you are applying for because each employer wants something different from their new-hires.

If you are applying for sales jobs, mention profits and revenues. When applying for management and leadership roles, communicate how you led a successful team.

Focus on the job description to determine the strengths and accomplishments you must highlight on your resume.

4. Choose the Right Keywords

There is no resume without keywords. You can’t expect a recruiter to read hundreds of resumes every day.

That’s why today’s top HR officials and recruitment companies leverage automation tools and software to screen applicants.

Many times, job applicants come across terms like ‘applicant tracking system.’ In reality, this term is just a fancy way of referring to recruiting software.

But don’t stuff your resume with relevant keywords. Once your resume goes through automation tools, the document will eventually land into a human’s hands.

Again, use the job description to pick important keywords and sprinkle them throughout your resume.

5. Make your Resume Readable

Regardless of how extensive and diverse your work experience is, no hiring manager wants to go through a five-page resume.

The best you can do to make your resume interesting is to pay attention to the formatting and vocabulary, etc. to make sure your resume scores well on the readability scale.

If you are using bullet points, make them consistent throughout the resume. Don’t use diamond bullet points in one section and circle one in the other.

Bullets are important because you should never add dense blocks of text; instead, break your accomplishments and responsibilities into bullets. A legitimate font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman makes your resume professional. Opt for a size between 10 and 12.

6. Refresh your Resume

Refreshing your resume periodically makes your resume updated and relevant. Having an updated resume is important because you don’t have to make any adjustments when applying for a job with an approaching deadline.

Upload your resume on a cloud-based storage system so you can access it from anywhere, at any time of the day.

7. Proofread your Resume

The last thing to do is make sure your resume is free of any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. A resume with a few typos here and there or formatting errors will fail to leave a good impression on an employer.

Thanks to various online tools, you can review your resumes for any grammatical or spelling errors. You can also hire a professional editor to review your resume and cover letter.

8. Hire a Professional Resume Service

Whether you are an aspiring or a seasoned professional, your resume can be your ticket to a reputed company.

If you are having trouble writing an effective resume, recruit a professional resume writing service, or choose a template that best fits your skills and qualifications.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to excel in the art of resume writing. When applying for an entry-level or a management position, follow our guide to create a professional-looking resume, and make a strong first impression.

Marissa Letendre, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Marissa Letendre is a senior HR leader and resume expert with over 12 years of experience. She has worked for both startups and Fortune 50 corporations and has helped thousands land jobs at top companies. Marissa has written on a wide range of topics, including employee engagement, career development, resumes, job searching, recruiting, and organizational effectiveness and has been featured on sites such as Slack and The Undercover Recruiter.

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