As job-hunting experts, we’ve heard every kind of resume advice you can imagine. We’ve partnered with companies in various industries looking to find candidates for thousands of roles and through this work, we’ve identified the golden standard for resume writing.
In our recent Job Searching 101 event, we spoke with leaders from L’Oréal, KPMG, and VISA to hear their words about what an ideal resume looks like. In our conversations, these industry leaders emphasized 5 key factors you should always consider and pay special attention to when writing your resume.
What’s The Best Resume Layout?
First and foremost, when it comes to the layout of your resume, you need to make sure it is one page only. Unless you’re an industry veteran and there really is no way to fit 10 years of experience on one sheet, one page is all you will need.
Additionally, candidates should make sure their resume layout looks simple and clean. Yes, that means no funny fonts or images! Unless you are applying to a position that requires a headshot (like acting or modeling), an image will only distract from the content you are presenting. Always stick to Ariel or Times New Roman in either 11 or 12 sizes. Lastly, make sure you’re writing in the proper tense and starting each bullet point with a verb.
Here are the correct and incorrect ways to talk about a past experience as a marketing intern:
- Incorrect – In my job as a marketing intern, I assist in social media strategy, SEO research, and web development.
- Correct – Assisted in social media strategy, SEO research, and web development that resulted in a 10% increase in organic site traffic.
Use the Job Description
A resume should never be a copy-and-paste situation when it comes to applying to multiple jobs. This being the case, every resume should be written with the job in mind. The easiest way to do this is to use the job description to guide your resume.
Without copying it, pull some keywords from the description to customize your resume for the job you’re applying to. If a job description requires you to do something like “categorize, organize, and file data in a neat way,” it would be beneficial to describe some of your past experiences using the same verbiage.
Not all the jobs you’re interested in require the same exact skill set, so it’s important to evaluate what each description is looking for and align your past experiences in a similar way.
A lot of candidates might not think this is a priority, but the contact information on resumes is a section that needs to be dialed and 100% accurate and reliable. Starting with your email, you need to make sure you have a professional name and it’s going to an inbox you regularly check. That means you’re going to have to do away with your childhood email (skaterdude1999 and soccerrulez nameplates are no-go’s) and make sure you are staying on top of incoming messages. A great email address to use professionally can be: Firstname.LastName@____, First initialLastName@____, you get the point!
Recruiters have shared stories in the past of candidates who didn’t hear about interviews or sometimes even job offers because they left emails unresponded. Don’t let this be you! Furthermore, if you are graduating soon, don’t rely on your school email to communicate about jobs because your university could shut it off any day.
If you’re going to include a phone number on your resume, make sure it’s an active line and the voicemail is set up and professional. While it’s not as common, recruiters and employers have used phone numbers to reach candidates who are sometimes unresponsive to emails.
If they can’t reach you, how are they supposed to hire you?
Leveraging Job Experience
For early career candidates and people just starting their professional careers, you may not have a lot of legitimate experience to portray your skills. If this sounds like you, your best option is to hone in on volunteer projects, early leadership roles, or any other extracurriculars you might have been involved in (clubs, sports, and organizations).
Next, we would direct you to the tip we mentioned earlier about using the job description to guide the way you explain your past experiences. Maybe you volunteered at a homeless shelter and you’re applying for a finance role – two things that don’t really line up together. Your job is to find the connection there. For example, maybe you realized the necessity for financial regulation and resources after seeing poverty up close. Or, you learned how to foster meaningful relationships and make contributions to an organization or place.
9 times out of 10 there will be some sort of way to draw a connection from past experiences to the job you’re applying for. What you don’t want to do is write down job experiences on your resume that are flat and have nothing to do with the industry, career, or job that you’re submitting the application to.
The Review Stage
Last but not least in the resume writing process is the review stage. When it comes to getting your resume reviewed, try to get as many eyes on it as possible. Show it to your friends, show it to your mom, bring it to the career center, share it with a professor, and if you’re feeling bold enough, reach out to someone from the company you’re applying to and ask them what they think about it. This shows eagerness and can make you stand out in the crowd.
Candidates spend hours and sometimes even days or weeks trying to perfect their resumes. Getting a fresh set of eyes on it will help you spot some things you might have missed.
The most important aspect of the reviewal stage is that it never ends. After every time someone reviews, after every job application, find ways to adjust and improve your resume.
If you follow these tips, then you are one more step closer to securing the job you’ve been waiting for. A job that loves you as much as you love it. Keep up with more job advice, resume tips, and career news at the WayUp community hub.