Resume writing has evolved in recent years to reflect the increase in competition for jobs, shortened attention spans, and a focus on hiring employees who add value. In an effort to present you in the best possible light to prospective employers, SVS Group offers the following resume writing guidelines:
- Set expectations with an objective that quickly and clearly states the kind of role you are targeting, your career level, and something designed to “brand” you as a candidate or differentiate you from your peers.
- Open your resume with a profile summary that captures who you are, your career level, your key skills and talents, and how you can add value—all geared toward your objective, and designed to differentiate you from your competition. Think of this as your unique value proposition.
- Include a keyword section to make it easy for the hiring manager to get a handle on your skill set, and evaluate core competencies not mentioned in your summary. This also helps hiring managers find your resume in a database search. Include plenty of keywords from target job listings in this section, and throughout the body of the resume.
- Focus on accomplishments in the professional experience section, and reduce emphasis on tasks. Today’s resume is no longer a simple list of qualifications and duties; it is a marketing document that must establish how a product (you) can provide benefit and add value to the buyer (potential employer). The best way to communicate this is through past accomplishments that suggest how you might add value in the future.
- Use a balance of paragraph and bullets, presenting your career progression in a way that is easy to read, not overly detailed, and well organized. Too many bullets can erase their ability to call attention to key items, and long paragraphs can seem overwhelming to read. Think in terms of talking points rather than long, drawn out description.
- Create a resume that can be easily scanned. Hiring managers scan resumes more often than they read them word-for-word. With this in mind, use attractive formatting to call attention to key items, such as objective and branding, key points in a bulleted summary, prestigious employers and / or titles, lead-in phrases to accomplishments, well-known universities or education programs, and special training, certifications, or credentials. This strategy can invite a deeper look at your resume.
- Avoid clichéd phrases and passive language. Overused terms like “results-oriented, team-player, dynamic, motivated, and problem solver,” don’t say anything meaningful. Instead, state how you embody these qualities in more specific terms, using language unique to your experience, accomplishments, and skill set. It is also best to avoid beginning statements with such terms as “responsible for.” Begin each statement with an action verb, such as “reduced, expanded, established, catapulted, or managed.”
- A final thought on length…one to two pages, three at most. Your years of experience, number of relevant accomplishments, education, and training history will naturally dictate the length of your resume. One page is no longer the rule of thumb, and in fact most resumes end up at two pages. Three pages may be necessary, but only in the case of a very long or complex leadership career, or for some technical professions.