Aaron Engelsrud

Aaron Engelsrud

5 Steps to Make your Resume Excellent

Your resume is a promotional document that needs to be custom-tailored to do one thing: sell you and your skills to a prospective employer. If your resume is not doing that, if it does not make you shine, you need to revamp your tired and worn out resume, update it, and bring it new life. While working on your resume, never forget that you are creating marketing material focused on selling you. If you read it and aren’t impressed with what you read, chances are someone else won’t be either. What you do may be dry and dull, your resume doesn’t have to be.

Make your resume bring your work to life. Your resume should be powerful enough to make the reader want to do your job. It should sound rewarding, enjoyable, and exciting. If it doesn’t seem like you enjoy your work, you fail to set the right tone in your resume. Seriously, even something like accounting can sound fun and rewarding if written correctly.

1 - Use Proper Keywords Almost every company, even small ones, uses automated resume screening to filter responses to job postings. This makes using proper keywords critical to getting actual eyes on your resume. So, how is this done? One reliable method to determine top keywords is to gather the text from 5 relevant job descriptions and create a word cloud. This will give you the most suitable words from the job descriptions you selected.

Once you have determined from the job descriptions which keywords are relevant, integrate them into your resume’s text. Find places those words make sense to add, don’t just put them in a list. Use them in your relevant skills and descriptions of previous work. If you can’t do this, chances are pretty good this is not a job you should be applying for. Consider this carefully.

2 - Proofread Your Resume This should seem like a no-brainer, right? I cannot tell you how many resumes I’ve read have typos, errors, and formatting issues. These errors show prospective employers that you ignore detail and are most likely, not the right person for the job. Honestly, if you have typos or other errors in your resume, you will most likely not get any sort of interview.

So, to combat this, proofread carefully. Have someone else correct it. Then do it all again. Like any good writing, write, edit, and then re-write. This should not be a rushed process. Your resume should feel like a well-crafted document, professional, and perfect in all respects.

3 - Keep Your Resume To One to Two Pages To be fair, this is more of a rule-of-thumb than a hard-fast law of resume creation. I’ve hired people with 1-page resumes as well as people with 6-page tomes. The most critical part of this is to put every vital skill you possess on the first page. Do it in a way that makes sense and is easy to comprehend. If you do this, any subsequent pages will likely not matter anyhow. So, trimming as much fluff as possible is essential.

4 - Highlight Key Accomplishments In line with keeping things brief and to one page, make sure you focus on your key accomplishments related to the employment you are seeking. Most likely, these are your most recent accomplishments as well. While it is fantastic that you got the “Best New Employee” award as an associate in 1996, that fact is probably not going to get you the new job today. In resumes, like most other things, it’s all about what you have done lately. What recent awards, new company savings, new technology, and accomplishments do you have to show for your efforts? The past is the past; what are you bringing to the table today?

5 - Only Include Relevant Information There might be things in your work history that you are very proud of. That’s great. However, if they aren’t relevant to the job you are seeking, leave them out, or at a minimum, put them later in the resume. Include information that will lead the reader to determine that you are the best candidate for the position. Anything that doesn’t help drive this point home should be cut. Remember, this document isn’t to make you feel better about your work history and accomplishments. Its purpose is to get you a job. More specifically, it is designed to get you the job you want. Anything that detracts from this purpose hurts your chances. Leave it out.

Conclusion There is a lot of effort that needs to go into your resume. It is critically important you get it right. From keywords to correct spelling and punctuation, you need to pay attention to the details and proofread it before sending it out. You don’t get a second chance for the first read from a prospective employer. Formatting, flow, and content are all critical and should be tailored to your particular career path. Your resume will need to be different if you apply for an executive-level position at a company versus an entry-level position. Making sure your resume is tailored accordingly could be the difference between getting the job and getting shredded. Have someone else look at it and review it.