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5 Tips for Writing a Standout Resume

With the current uncertainty in the market and over three million people applying for unemployment last week, I thought it was the perfect time to review how to write a standout resume. Writing a great resume is the biggest differentiator between landing the job and not even being asked to interview.

5 Tips for Writing a Standout Resume

The biggest key to remember when it comes to resume writing: we only know what you have put on that piece of paper. There are no assumptions when it comes to resumes. You may know that a job is the perfect fit for you, but if that experience is not conveyed on the resume, the reviewer will never know.

  1. Don't over-complicate it.
    All too often, I receive resumes that I know must have taken the individual hours to create, not because of the quality of the content, but because of the format of the resume. The best advice I can give you is to keep things simple. The easier the resume is to read, the more likely it is that someone will read it. I suggest using Microsoft Word and a common font in a readable format. (Note: this relates to all industries except creative positions such as UX Design, Digital Marketing, etc. You can get artsy on your resume if it is an indicator of success in your field.)
     
  2. Paint a picture of your role.
    Most people understand the basics of resume writing - to include your daily job duties and roles. But many people fail to put their position in perspective. There is a big difference between saying "Agile Coach with strong agile transformation experience" and "Agile Coach responsible for transforming 45 teams from waterfall to scrum on the program level". The first example is something most Agile Coaches would have experience with. The second example paints a clearer picture of the role. When you're writing your resume, make sure you include what the parameters look like. How many teams did you work with? Were you working cross functionally? What project/product were you focused on? How large of budgets do you have experience managing? Were you creating scripts from scratch? How long were the scripts you created? All of these details allow the resume reviewer to truly understand how you fit into the organization, not just what your duties were on a day to day basis.
     
  3. If it's on your resume, it's fair game.
    A lot of candidates like to pack their resume full of buzzwords in the hopes that their resume will stick out to employers and recruiters using those words to search for candidates. Be wary of adding things to your resume that you are not truly proficient in, as it can come back and hurt your chances of getting that new position. For example: I had a candidate interview for a Software Engineer job that they were the perfect fit for. They had the technical chops for what the role was requesting, but they added information to their resume that they couldn't speak to in detail. Even though the added information wasn't relevant to the position, when the manager asked about it and the candidate couldn't speak to that experience, the manager decided to pass. That's because if it is on your resume, it is fair game. If you cannot speak in detail to something, who's to say you haven't misled us with the other information on your resume? Make sure you are representing yourself in the most honest way possible.
     
  4. Make your resume job specific. 
    This seems obvious but the truth is, this is incredibly time consuming and most people have one set resume that they use. This significantly hinders your possibility of getting an interview. If you are reading a job description and it sounds like the perfect fit, but your resume doesn't display that, you will not get called back about the position. This takes a lot of time on the front end, but you will see huge results in the long run.
     
  5. The length of your resume depends on experience.
    Do not believe the old adage, "the shorter the resume, the better". There is no one-size-fits-all length for the best resume. The most important thing to focus on is getting the most marketable content onto the resume. With that said, I do generally go by a few rules: If you have five years of experience or less, try to keep your resume to one page. If you have 20+ years of experience, your resume should NOT be one page; it should be closer to 3-5. Anything surpassing 5-6 pages is too much content.

Hopefully with these tips, you will see an increase in interviews and company engagement. With unemployment still increasing, it is essential to put your best foot forward when it comes to the job market, and it all starts with one standout resume.

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