Imagine for a moment that you’re a recruiter. Exhausted after a long day in the career fair and answering the same questions over and over, you tiredly flip through the stack of resumes on your desk. Sigh.
But one resume stood out above the others. It caught your attention. His resume convinced you that he’s the right man for the job, and you scheduled an interview right away.
So what did the resume look like? In this article, we share 10 tips on how to create an awesome resume that will make you stand out and help you land your dream job.
What is a Resume?
A resume (résumé) - sometimes also curriculum vitae (CV) - is a brief document outlining your experience, education, skills, accomplishments, and other qualities as a fine candidate. It’s somewhere between a business card and an autobiography.
Resumes tend to span a page if not more, and contain your professional history, any outstanding achievements, your strengths and the results to prove it - any information that would be relevant in convincing the recruiter to hire you. Sounds simple enough.
The real challenge is compressing all that information into a single page, making it interesting enough so recruiters won’t throw your resume after 6 seconds of skimming, and staying sane throughout the process.
So how do you make your resume awesome enough to stand out among the hundreds that flood the office every day?
1. Pick the right format
An awesome resume is formatted properly and creatively.
Let’s talk about looks first. The shape and format of your resume should reflect the information it contains (you) without being unnecessarily long. Most of the time a resume should be a single page long, especially if you’re a fresh grad or a first-jobber without much to put in. If you’re an experienced professional with a long career history, your resume might have more pages. Still, isn’t it better to have a one page resume instead of three pages, with all the same stuff inside?
Formatting creatively is your best bet to stand out among the greyscale, Times New Roman pile of resumes. A resume should always be informative and professional, but that doesn’t mean yours have to be boring.
No matter the job, a fresh-looking resume is sure to get the attention of recruiters for more than 6 seconds. There are many free tools online that can help you pimp your resume without having to become a design expert, like NovoResume and Canva just to name a few.
Professional and non-boring.
Don’t be afraid to bring in some color or play around with the arrangement of sections. Putting in your 3 Dreamtalent personas is an interesting way to show your personality and thinking style. In fact, our built-in resume builder can already do it for you.
2. Make it easy to read
Write your resume with skimmability in mind. Recruiters are busy people and don’t have a lot of time to analyze every resume, so make those 6 seconds count.
Your words should be concise and straight to the point. There’s no need to pump fancy words and jargon into your resume if they won’t help you illustrate your experience and achievements - it’ll only end up being confused and difficult to read.
Use active and engaging language to make your resume sound more lively and human. If space permits, you could supplement your bullet points with short sentences describing your experience: “In my tenure as Digital Marketer, I managed to increase traffic by 1200% and conversion rate to 5000% after implementing my design reforms.”
3. Write a captivating intro
Before your readers dive into the details of your professional history, make space for a section in the beginning to introduce yourself. Your intro should be short and sweet, and can convey a clear picture of who you are and what you can offer.
Writing an effective bio is easy work if you’re done your homework. It’s essentially a slimmed-down elevator pitch - instead of highlighting your strengths and motivations in 2 minutes, you get to do it in 2 sentences. If you’ve already written a good one for your LinkedIn profile, feel free to use that too.
4. Don’t just tell - show your achievements
Talk about your accomplishments, not your tasks. Doing what you’re supposed to do is nothing special, but instead focus on what you did beyond what’s expected. It’s an excellent way to make you stand out and give evidence for your strengths.
Numbers speak more than words. Put solid numbers to illustrate your results and make your accomplishments more powerful. Instead of just saying you increased online engagement, say that your content got 19 billion views and 98 trillion downloads for your previous employer.
5. Keep it relevant
A good resume doesn’t try to tell your entire life story - just the bits that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you’re going for a marketing gig, then you might want to leave out your summer job as cook in McDonald’s. But if you were in a committee in university in charge of promotions, put it in your resume!
Experience is experience. Just because you did unpaid or voluntary work doesn’t mean it’s not worthy to be mentioned in your resume. If what you did there is more relevant than what you did getting paid, and if the results are solid, then it’s relevant.
6. Use your online presence
If you haven’t already, check out our post on how to build a professional online presence. If done properly, your online presence may do a better job than your resume in convincing people to hire you. The internet sure is a magical place.
Include your LinkedIn profile in your resume. If you have a personal website (which you should), put that in as well. Dribbble, Medium, GitHub, put everything in. Your resume may not be able to fit much, but you can include more evidence to support your skills by giving links to your online portfolio.
7. Customize your resume
To take relevance to the next level, tailor your resume for different industries, positions, and even employers! A little personalization goes a long way in giving a strong positive impression, as simple as including bits of the job description in your bio.
Tailoring your resume doesn’t have to be difficult, especially if you’re planning to send lots of applications. Instead of a complete overhaul - which would be time-consuming - editing your introduction and handpicking specific experiences to include would be enough to make your resume a sharp one.
8. Get it reviewed
Take a good look at the resume you just made, then think like a recruiter. Is this resume good enough? Does it tell me what I need to know about this candidate? Would I wanna hire this guy?
How can you tell if your resume is any good? Ask someone else. Get a friend or a senior to take a look at your resume and ask for their honest opinions. Better yet, ask someone who’s already working - in recruiting, if you know someone who does.
Like writing a book, the first few drafts of your resume may not be as good as you hoped it to be. But it’s better to detect flaws early on yourself rather than have the recruiting officer find it.
9. Save it as PDF
Don’t let your editing efforts go to waste - always save your resume in .pdf format. Other formats like .doc are likely to look messed up when downloaded and opened with a different application in a different device, while a .pdf document will always look as it was saved.
This is a simple yet handy tip to make life easier for you and the recruiters. Alternatively, there are other forms that a resume can take, such as…
10. Video resumes
Resumes in the form of videos are gaining popularity everywhere. The purpose of a resume is to tell a brief story about yourself so that people may want to hire you. If a video can serve that purpose, why stick to only paper?
A website can be a resume. Without the confines of the A4 format, people are free to make their resume more creative and interactive while also showing off their web design skills. There are even Twitter resumes. That’s right, resumes under 140 characters. Twesumes. Woah.
Putting a link in your tweet is kinda cheating, though, isn't it?
Not all companies would readily accept non-paper resumes, though. Go crazy and demonstrate your skills and experience with videos, websites, or any other format, but they should supplement - not replace - your main resume.
A truly awesome resume goes beyond formatting and deep into its contents. The skills and experience you put in your resume depends on you - internships, volunteer activities, side projects - so go out there and do something awesome to put in your resume.