10 tips for writing an effective resume
You might be the most qualified person for a role, but employers will never know unless you have an excellent resume. Learning resume best practices helps you build the best resume and secure your dream job. This article explores our top 10 resume tips, including making it ATS-friendly, keeping it concise, and leveraging professional resume templates.
1. Make your resume ATS friendly
One of the most essential resume writing tips is optimizing your resume for applicant tracking systems (ATS).
The majority of employers use an ATS to streamline recruitment. This software scans resumes for certain formatting and job-related keywords, so it’s critical that your resume aligns with ATS criteria.
Here are a few methods to make a resume ATS-friendly:
- Write keywords in your resume as they appear in the job description
- Use clear, easy-to-read formatting (more on this in point 4)
- Use straightforward, typical wording, avoiding unique headers or job titles
For our full guide on the subject, check out our blog post on building an ATS resume.
2. Only include relevant information
Hiring managers want to know why you’re perfect for their job role, so they need to know strictly relevant information.
Keep your resume concise and ensure it contains information that relates to your target job. Most job seekers have a variety of skills and work experience, but it’s vital to only include what’s hyper-relevant.
For example, if you’re applying for an IT role, leave your retail associate experience off.
This not only helps recruiters focus on what’s important, it also enables you to fit more content on your resume.
3. Update your resume for each job role
Personalize your resume for each job role to showcase specific experience, responsibilities, education, and skills.
This helps you focus on what’s important to each job role and shows recruiters that you have the exact qualities they’re looking for.
Make this tip quick and actionable by keeping multiple versions of your resume on hand.
This tip is even easier when combined with the previous two. Look at the job description for keywords, and then only include your most relevant skills and experience.
Tweaking your resume for each role also helps you keep it updated so you aren’t sending employers old information.
4. Make it simple and professional
Some job seekers make the mistake of believing that professional equals complicated, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
A simple layout shows you can deliver the necessary information efficiently and succinctly.
It’s also crucial to keep your resume short, about one to two pages. This shows respect for the hiring manager’s time and increases the chance that they’ll read your resume.
We recommend using a resume template to help you decide on a simplistic layout and font. Check out our resume templates so you can focus on the content, not the formatting.
5. Use exciting, active language
Active language draws the eye and makes it easier to read. It also makes sentences more understandable.
Active language includes words like:
These words are powerful and have positive connotations, displaying your initiative and confidence. Don’t minimize your accomplishments – hiring managers need to know why they should choose you and you shouldn’t be afraid to tell them.
We encourage you to make your achievements sound powerful and exciting but remember to never exaggerate your experience or lie.
6. Use a chronological format
Chronological resumes are the most common resume format, so most hiring managers will be expecting them.
This is the practice of listing your most recent achievements, experience, and education and working backward.
Putting your most recent work experience and education on resumes gives recruiters the most recent, relevant information first. They’ll want to hear about your most recent position as a senior marketing manager rather than your first junior role.
7. Ensure it’s easy to contact you
It might seem simple, but it’s one of the most important resume tips: Make it easy to contact you.
What if the recruiter loves your resume and wants to talk? It would be a shame if they couldn’t call you for an interview because they couldn’t find your phone number.
Have your contact details at the top of the page, right under your name. Include your email address, phone number, and LinkedIn profile.
Some applicants also include their addresses in this section, but it isn’t necessary for everyone.
Read our blog to know when and how to include your address on resumes.
In this modern age, it’s essential to keep your social media updated and professional. Some social media profiles, like LinkedIn, will be directly linked in your resume, so it needs to be maintained and updated. However, even other social media profiles should be kept professional because many hiring managers research candidates online before hiring them.
8. List specific achievements over responsibilities
Employers prefer reading about your accomplishments over your responsibilities. Responsibilities may look the same in most candidates, but achievements give hiring managers specific context into your performance.
Here’s a comparison:
- Responsibility-focused: “Handled phone calls, talked with prospects, and collaborated with other sales reps”
- Achievement-focused: “Achieved 100% sales quota quarterly, collaborated with over 20 team members, and understood client needs, leading to a 45% close rate”
Another way to make your language stand out is to use numbers and statistics wherever possible, like in the above example.
9. Include other, optional sections
Most resume best practices relate to required sections, and although these sections aren’t necessary, they can be valuable.
Here are a few optional sections to include:
- Hobbies and interests
- Volunteer work
These sections offer great insights for recruiters and might help you stand out among other applicants. For instance, listing your environmental volunteer work helps when applying to a company with strong ecological values.
10. Proofread for accuracy
You can never proofread your resume enough. Your resume should be double- and triple-checked for spelling and grammar errors to ensure professionalism and accuracy.
Here are a few tips:
- Use proofreading and grammar software
- Ask friends or family to proofread it
- Ask an unbiased third party, such as a former colleague or an online forum
These resume tips are even valuable when making a video resume. Rewatch your video resume and ask friends to view it, too.
It’s always a good idea to be open and willing to make edits.
“Employers prefer reading about your accomplishments over your responsibilities. Responsibilities may look the same in most candidates, but achievements give hiring managers specific context into your performance.”
Leverage These Resume Tips for a Professional Resume
Resumes can be a tricky balance of correct formatting, relevant information, and succinct wording. But with our resume writing tips, you can craft the perfect resume that grabs the hiring manager’s attention and shows them you’re the perfect person for the job.
Keep your LinkedIn profile updated, align your job title to the job description, and use a reverse chronological format to showcase your professionalism.
Interested in more resume tips? Check out our resume article archive for insights on a variety of subjects.