To build a compelling resume, you first need to identify the right content to include in your document. Although this can vary significantly from industry to industry, there are core best practices to resume writing that are applicable across a wide range of occupations and fields. When crafting your resume, the most important thing to consider is whether the information you’re providing will be relevant to the hiring manager. Many job seekers often make the mistake of providing vague bullet points that feature generic job responsibilities. Others create content that is too long-winded and does not draw attention to the bottom-line value of their professional achievements. Using our guide below, we’ll help you identify the right details to include on your resume to improve your interview response rates and land your next job opportunity.
Include Your Contact Information
Although this may seem obvious, there are key factors to consider when including your contact information. Always include your phone number, email, and LinkedIn profile at the top of your document. When detailing your address, you can provide your full street address if you’re applying for a position in your local area. If you’re planning on relocating, however, you may want to omit these details, as this could be off-putting to the hiring manager and may be a roadblock to you securing the interview. If you’re pursuing a remote position, the address is less likely to have a positive or negative impact, so you can feel free to include it for those roles.
Feature Your Education and Certifications
As a rule, education should be placed towards the front of the document for recent graduates and included at the bottom for experienced professionals. If your certification or license is critical for the role, such as a Registered Nurse license, you may want to consider placing it directly below your summary or mentioning the license within the professional profile itself. Once you’ve completed a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, you no longer need to include your high school degree, as this won’t do anything to enhance your application. If you’re in a situation where you attended college but didn’t complete your degree, you could include the number of credits you achieved and the years you were enrolled in the university. It shows that you have some college experience, which will look stronger than only including a GED.
Never Include Hobbies or Personal Interests
While it may seem tempting to provide insights into your hobbies and personal interests, this is a poor strategy for resume building. Hiring managers may ask you these types of questions during an interview, but they certainly won’t persuade them to schedule you for one. The purpose of the resume is to clearly showcase that you’re qualified for the job and that you can bring value to prospective employers. Including irrelevant details such as your interest in skiing or watching films may even come off as unprofessional, as you’re essentially wasting the hiring manager’s valuable time. That said, including professional associations you’re involved in, or a relevant volunteer experience is an alternative approach that can improve your document, especially if the information is pertinent to your industry.
Include Dates and Locations for Employment
A common question job seekers have is whether or not to include months in addition to years for positions they’ve previously held in their career. If possible, you should also provide the full timeline for your employment, as omitting months doesn’t tell the full story. For example, if you held a job from October 2019 – February 2020, but listed it as 2019 – 2020, you’d be giving the false impression that you were employed at the company for a full year. While many hiring managers may not scrutinize these details, there are some that will, and eliminating any possible barriers during the hiring process is an important best practice for resume writing.
Create an Eye-catching Professional Profile
Including a professional summary at the top of your document is essential for grabbing the attention of the hiring manager. Some candidates make the mistake of creating a resume objective section, rather than a professional profile. Although these have been used in the past, objectives have become less and less appealing for hiring managers. Employers are much more interested in seeing that you have the qualifications for the position you’re applying for than garnering insights into your long-term career goals. Given the limited bandwidth of hiring managers to read each document they receive in-depth, the professional profile also offers you an opportunity to create a compelling snapshot of your career and differentiate yourself from the competition.
Highlight Your Work Experience and Accomplishments
Creating a work experience section on your resume is a given. It’s how you build out your content and career achievements that makes all the difference during the job search. Employers are interested in candidates who take the time to carefully detail accomplishments throughout their career, as this helps to paint a clearer picture of who you are as a professional within your field. To make a positive impression, you’ll want to create clear and concise bullet points that are easy for the hiring manager to read and understand. Long-winded paragraphs can often be a detriment to the resume, as it makes it more difficult for the reader to find the key pieces of information they’re looking for. Remember to keep your focus on the bottom-line value of your achievements and the steps and actions you took to make them happen.
Feature a Professional Skills Section
The skills section has two primary functions on the resume. First, it provides you with another avenue to incorporate appropriate keywords for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) without compromising the writing quality of your bullet points. For example, there may be a specific piece of software or an industry regulation that you can’t integrate cleanly into your work experience. Featuring these terms in your skills section allows you to highlight your industry knowledge while maintaining the quality of your bullet point content. This section will also further show the hiring manager that you have the necessary skill sets the company is looking for, which is the first step in securing the interview.
Lose the References
References are another outdated resume writing practice that has largely been discarded. It’s generally understood that if an employer wants to look at your references, they can always ask for them, so including a sentence at the end of your document explaining that is largely unnecessary. Instead, you should create a separate document in advance that cleanly formats the names and contact information of your references so that it’s ready to send as soon as the company asks for it.
Additional Resume Building Resources
Building a resume from scratch can be a daunting task, but sometimes viewing examples can give you the guidance and inspiration you need to craft your content. Each industry has its own nuances and specifics and learning how to draw attention to the bottom-line value of your professional achievements is essential for generating interest from potential employers. Our resume and cover letter example pages can provide you with industry keywords, templates, and expert tips to help you create an accomplishment-driven document and land your next big interview.