Resume writing has certainly changed over the years growing increasingly more complex and difficult to maneuver. Though a resume remains an essential tool for securing a job, it has evolved. Effective resume writing today uses ATS-friendly keywords, career accomplishments, performance metrics and clean, streamlined formatting to name a few. With so many elements to consider when crafting a job-winning resume, how can you tell if your resume is on the right track?
4 Elements of an Attention-getting Resume
Strong Resume Opening – Several years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for resume writing to open with a boring objective statement to the effect of “Seeking a position as an Operations Manager to use my talents, skills and education to grow with the company.” No one really paid much attention to these dull one-liners; people generally skipped straight to the “Work Experience” section to see what you’ve done. Though your “Work Experience” remains an essential component of your resume writing, today’s interview-getting resumes replace the objective statement with a profile or summary section.
This summary section should reach out and grab the readers’ focus and say “this is what I do and this is why you need to hire me.” It needs to be concise, informational, and impressive without being too obnoxious or over the top. To do this effectively requires a delicate balance of pizzazz and persuasion. In fact this is one of the top reasons why many job seekers hire professional resume writers. If you do not start out strong, the hiring manager or human resources professional screening resumes may overlook you.
An Achievement-rich Experience Section – As stated previously the Work Experience section of your resume writing will also receive a lot of attention by the reader. Here you need to focus on what you do / have done (in both big-picture and day to day terms if relevant) and what you have accomplished. The addition of job accomplishments or achievements is a new element in today’s job winning resumes.
So for instance, it isn’t enough to say, “Responsible for multimillion dollar sales and territory.” It is better to say, “Manage and grow sales territory from $2.5M to $2.8M over most recent quarter, exceeding quota by 15 percent.”
Achievements are essential for today’s attention-getting resumes even if you aren’t in sales – but particularly if you are. An achievement shows what you can accomplish, how you bring added value to your team or department, and that you have hutzpah. It shows how you stand out from other applicants and that you are more than your job title.
An Accurate Education Section – The importance of the education section on your job-winning resume depends largely on your industry and the specific employer. Some job openings might say “MBA preferred” so you might be considered even if you don’t have this preference. For other positions, having a certain degree may be non-negotiable.
If you have the required degree, then you would simply list it. If you don’t, list what you do have. However, don’t ever lie about having a degree. Even if you completed 95% of the degree but didn’t finish it for whatever reason, simply state, “Completed 100 hours towards Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication”. Being untruthful about something of this magnitude will catch up with you.
Resume Skills Section – The importance of your resume skills’ section varies depending on your industry and profession. For those professionals in engineering or information technology, it is important to list all of your software proficiencies, coding languages, developers’ tools and more. Nurses or medical technicians would want to list their areas of specialty as well as procedures and treatments they are familiar with.
This listing of specifics is true for all professional positions because the hiring manager or ATS software may conduct a search based on one of these keywords. So if you are in forensic accounting, list the specifics of that niche area rather than just basic accounting terms, though you may want to list some of those as well. This is the case for every position that has a specific line of training or education.
As a certified professional resume writer, I see a lot of clients with a resume skills section that reads like this: dependable, reliable, detail-oriented, and hard working. It is best to avoid including terms like this under a resume skills section. While these are desirable traits in a potential employee, they are exactly that: traits or characteristics rather than learned or measurable skills. Employers and hiring managers view traits like “dependability” as a given; they don’t belong in a resume skills section.
86 Keys Communications creates results-getting resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and related resume writing services for job seekers of every industry and experience level. Contact them today at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how they can help with your job search.