How to Write a Resume - Write a Resume - Resume Writing Tips

Write a Resume - Top 10 Resume Tips on How to Write a Resume

Resume writing is a skill, and unfortunately most of us are less than prepared to know how to write a resume that will land us an interview much less a job offer. Let's face it, you are probably doing what most people do: Resume Spamming. By definition, a resume spammer sends the same resume to multiple employers in hopes to be contacted. 

As an HR Manager and Recruiter myself, these are easy to spot, and often that resume would end up in a folder that would never be reviewed. So how do you avoid making this mistake and actually get your resume seen by the HR Manager? Written by an actual HR Manager and Recruiter, here are some quick resume tips to get you started:

How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #1: 

Look Carefully at Job Descriptions and Ads

Learning how to investigate the key words that employers provide in their job ads and job descriptions becomes a powerful tool on how to write a resume. For example, for this resume tip I did a brief search on Craigslist and found the following ad:

Human Resources Representative

Will serve as liaison between different departments as it relates to human resources. This person will be responsible for knowing and communicating company procedures and benefits information to employees. Other responsibilities will include but are not limited to: employee relations, processing new hire paperwork, benefits administration, training, and recruiting/hiring employees, as well as, assisting in the development and administration of human resources policies and procedures.

This ad, while small, is very precise and lists keywords that can help you on how to write a resume that matches what the company is looking for. Do not be tempted to embellish your resume with skills that are not accurate to your actual work history, but if they are related to your past or present duties, use the key words the employer is using to prepare a better resume and write a resume that will stand out. To see a sample video on this how to write a resume tip, please visit our resume tips video page.


How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #2: 

Pay Attention to Employer Needs that are Hidden

While the list of skills and qualifications are prevalent in the advertisement I have listed above, it is important to remember the hidden message within the advertisement. For example, this employer will need someone who can deal effectively with other employees. Since the market is such that there are many candidates competing for the same position, it is important that you identify and anticipate the full range of needs each employer faces and write about how you can address these needs (a great way to write a cover letter by addressing such needs and how you can resolve them based on your experience and skill sets). This resume tip is a critical part of your research process to avoid being viewed as a resume spammer. To see a sample video on resume tip #2, please visit our resume tips video page.

How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #3: 

Sell Your Benefits and Skills

Most of the sample resumes I have seen from candidates provide a list of duties that each person has been responsible for without really explaining the benefit of those skills to the employer. For example, a sales manager sample resume might state that they have trained employees over the course of a year. This statement lacks an explanation of how this training benefits an employer's bottom line. The real benefit is that the employee can effectively train and develop new hires, saving the employer time and money in seeing the success of new hires. A better statement for this person's resume might be:

  • Achieved top production volume by training and developing new hires with a high degree of accuracy and efficiency.

  • Cut training expenses by over $8,000 annually by eliminating the need for extra training time after the initial 3 week program set by management.

  • Increased sales volume of new hires by 22% after the first three weeks of training compared to last year’s sales volume.
As you can tell from the samples above, they are very specific, provide actual data (explained in resume tip #4 below) and when you read it, you get a much clearer picture of what that experience has done for the candidate making it easier for the employer to apply it to their own needs. To see a sample video on this resume tip, please visit our resume tips video page.

How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #4: 

Quantify Results (When Possible)

The descriptions you provide of your skills and abilities will determine greatly how many interviews you generate as well as the level of salary offers you receive. This is a common mistake I have seen in the 100s of resumes I have reviewed over the years. I have included an example below to explain:

Before:
Maintained records for new applicants for open positions in the organization
After:
Reviewed, managed, and screened over 3,000 applicants working directly with Hiring Managers to provide quality candidates for open positions.

Based on these two descriptions, which one do you feel is the stronger description? Knowing some exact numbers to help quantify your particular skill set or description of the duty becomes a powerful selling tool in describing your ability to handle the position the employer is seeking to fill. To see a sample video on this resume tip, please visit our resume tips video page.


How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #5: 

Use Power Words and Content that Sells

Using numbers to describe your achievements and responsibilities can greatly expand and elevate how an employer perceives your skills. Using numbers and quantifying creates vivid images in my mind when I read them in a resume I am reviewing, whereas general statements like the example mentioned above is easy to skip over or forget. Typically the more specific you can be in describing your duties the better.

Another strategy to control that first impression an employer has about you is to use Power Words or verbs that match the level of position you want. For example, let’s say I want to use the experience I have gained to move into a management position. To strengthen the perception of my skills I need to use management type words.

Typical Verbs:
Gave work assignments to staff of entry-level recruiters.

Power Words:
Directed workflow, supervised and trained recruiting staff to better qualify candidates for hiring manager reviews, resulting in an increased interview to hire ratio by 47%
(Notice the use of power words and the quantification of the data!)
Gives you goosebumps, huh?


To see a sample video on this resume tip, please visit our resume tips video page.

How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #6: 

Grab their Attention with Resume Design

Employers make snap judgments when glancing at your resume and how it was written. I cannot tell you how often I would look at a resume template and I knew within 5 seconds if I wanted to continue a further review of qualifications. Unrelated job titles or skills would cause me to make an immediate assumption that you were not qualified for the job I was looking to fill. Adding to this problem is the fact that most employers don't have the time to read through each of your job descriptions to determine if you have the skills they need.

The design of your resume must highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education. At first glance this information forms the image that employers have of your skills and abilities. Be sure to use a design that is easy to scan and has the ability to highlight key points quickly.


How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #7: 

Use Titles and Headings that Match the Job you Seek

With employers receiving hundreds of resumes for each position you must make sure that your resume hooks an employer's attention within a 5 to 10-second glance (mentioned previously). A great way to do this is to use job titles and skill headings that relate or even match the exact job title of the position you want. For example, look at these before and after headings:

Before:
Recruiting / Recordkeeping
Administrative
Computer Skills

After:
Management of Company Recruiting
Computerized Applicant Tracking and Payroll
Departmental Administration / Confidential Recordkeeping

Even though my title was that of a recruiter, I actually managed the recruiting for the entire company at the level of a Director, participating in management meetings and making decisions on hiring without management approval. Using skill headings that market the true nature of my job duties will be better at marketing what I actually did.

Another note here is the title of your position. This is a tough area to address because even though your employer may call your position one thing, if that job title is not a common job title employers seek, YOU WILL NOT STAND OUT.
 
Let me share a personal example on this subject. When I was a recruiter, to somehow make us appear different, or something (not really 100% sure what the purpose of this was) but they called us a "Career Development Advisor".

I know, right?

Sounds more like a School counselor or something, and it certainly was not anywhere near what I was actually doing as a recruiter, such as the cold calling, developing relationships with both candidates and hiring managers, etc. So job title is important. If I was a recruiter, then my title should be recruiter, or some other title that is more commonly known. It should also not lead one to believe I did something else.

How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #8: 

Prioritize your Skills and Content

Another big mistake that job seekers make is to list very important data in the lower sections of their job descriptions, if at all. As you compile bullet points for your resume template, you should prioritize them by importance, impressiveness and relevance to the job you want. Remember, a strong statement that uses power words and quantifies experience will affect every statement underneath it.

Not Prioritized

Maintained applications control, filing, orientation paperwork and other documents.
Managed screening functions to support the managers for a staff of over 200 Sales Professionals.

Prioritized

Managed screening functions to support the managers for a staff of over 200 Sales Professionals.
Maintained applications control, filing, orientation paperwork and other documents.

The order is important, so you will need to pay attention to the order you place your bullet points when you create your resume. Resume Tip #1 should help you with the decision on the order. If it important to the employer then it must be listed accordingly!

How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #9: 

Create an Image that Matches the Salary you Want

As you write a resume, keep in mind the level of job and salary you want. For example, language used in a resume for an entry level $8 an hour position is much different than the language used for a middle manager level of $16 an hour. Be sure to create an image that presents you at the appropriate level, even if you may not have all the experience required for that level.

I had a candidate once who decided to leave the mortgage industry due to the changing market conditions and wanted to switch to the finance field. At the top he had placed the intent of the resume with the following words:

Seeking an entry-level position in the finance field.

Based on that one statement, what do you think my first impression was on what this individual was worth salary-wise? A much better statement would have been something like this:

Seeking a finance position utilizing my experience in managing client accounts and transactions of over $1.2 million monthly.

See the difference? I was glad to hear later that this had a tremendous impact on his salary offer later on as he continued his career in this new field.


How to Write a Resume - Resume Tip #10: 

Don’t SPAM your Resume – Be Unique

How often do job seekers go on the Internet and scour the web to find positions for which they qualify in varying degrees and then SPAM the same resume to each employer? Are you guilty of this? We all know what SPAM is, and if all you do is send out the same resume and generic cover letter to each employer, the odds are you will not have great success in your search. You need to personalize the initial contact in some way. If it is an ATS or online application, that is great, but if you are just simply emailing the employer, chances are they have received 200 emails already, so address them directly with the keywords and phrases that will stand out.

I jokingly tell people about the 16 resume templates I have on file, one of which is about 12 pages long. Why? My longer resume lists every job I have ever had, describing in detail every skill and qualification. The reason this is critical is so that at any given moment, I can tweak my sample resume, and change the necessary items based on the first few resume tips above to send a unique resume sample to each employer.


How to Write a Resume - Resume Tips Conclusion

In conclusion, while these resume tips are great ways to get started on writing a resume, sometimes it still is helpful to speak with someone specifically about ways to improve your resume or even start with the right resume template. You will notice at the top in the menu there is a page I have dedicated to sample resume templates to help get you started in this area. I have been helping individuals for many years on how to create better resume samples,  including help on how to write a resume that contains more powerful keywords and descriptions of your duties. I do provide these services for FREE and you are welcome to contact me about these resume writing services. 

You can just send me a copy of your own resume to get started if you prefer to do it that way.  Just email me at support@freeresumetips.net. Another suggestion is to view some of the resume tip videos that I have been creating, or preview some of the radio shows I have been on as well as other radio shows that cover topics that may be specific to you. There are some great speakers that have been interviewed and you may find some great resources there.


 

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