Your resume is likely your first impression with an employer which means its quality and content determines whether you’ll be considered for an interview. In order to stand out from the pile of other resumes, you must write a targeted and polished resume. Follow the steps below to accomplish this.
Brainstorm all relevant information
Before you begin writing your resume, start compiling all of the necessary information. Make a note of anything that could be of interest to an employer such as your education, relevant coursework, work experiences, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience, skills, and awards. Record as many details as you can about these experiences so that you can be specific on you resume. Most importantly, get as many numbers as you can which are associated with these items.
Even if you don’t include everything, it will be helpful to have a centralized list to drawn from as you write your resume and update it for future opportunities. It is important that your resume is accurate. Double-check any dates, names, numbers, and facts that you plan to include.
Choose an appropriate format
While there are many templates to choose from (too many in our opinion), all resumes should follow some basic formatting and content guides (see “How to format and structure your resume”). In general, your resume should be clean, simple, and not have any crazy fonts and colors.
Review a few resume examples, to see what format aligns best to your background. How you arrange your resume sections and what you choose to emphasize depends on the position and your qualifications. For example, if leadership is critical to the position, consider adding a section in your resume specifically dedicated to your leadership experience.
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Write the content
Choose what to include from your compiled activities based on the job description. Think about the requirements of the position and what the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate as you write your resume.
Write succinctly so that the employer doesn’t lose interest. Use strong verbs and showcase your achievements and strengths. Be specific and quantify where possible. Do not exaggerate – it is important to be accurate and honest. See “How to format and structure your resume” for more tips on how to write your resume.
Edit, edit, edit
Any errors in your resume will reflect negatively and may result in a rejection. Review your resume thoroughly and check consistency, grammar, spelling, tenses, and facts. As you are reviewing your resume, make sure you print it off! You will be able to spot errors much more easily when it is printed off.
As you reread your resume, look for areas where you can be more concise or effective. Check the verbs you use to begin each bullet to make sure you don’t use the same ones over and over again. Also have other people review your resume. A fresh pair of eyes can catch mistakes and give you helpful feedback. Career counselors, alumni, and any contacts you have within the industry would be particularly valuable reviewers.
Customize your resume for each application
It is critical to tailor your resume to each position you apply for. What’s important to emphasize in the resume will depend on the industry, company, and position. As you apply for jobs, it will be helpful to have a master resume that you can adjust for each position.
Review the job description thoroughly to make sure your resume highlights the qualifications required for the position and includes the qualifications’ keywords. This is especially important if you are applying to a larger company. These companies will put resumes through keyword scanning software to quickly weed out candidates. This means that if your resume doesn’t contain critical keywords to the industry and position, the employer may never even see it.
We cannot overemphasize how important it is to build a quality resume. The amount of time you take to customize your resume will be very evident in the final product. This stellar resume will greatly increase how well the employer perceives your interest and qualifications.