The key to writing a resume that wins interviews is to respond to the problems the hiring manager needs to resolve. While the resume is about you, it also needs to be exactly responsive to the hiring managers' needs.
Nail your keywords:
- Use the exact keywords found in job descriptions.
- Better yet, talk to the hiring manager before you apply to find out what specific problems need to be solved so you can edit your resume!
- Keywords are used in searches by people looking for your talent.
- When you apply, the ATS will look for keywords exactly as the company describes them.
- Use the keywords in context throughout the resume too.
- To find keywords commonly used in your industry, search many job descriptions of interest to you regardless of location.
- Try inserting job descriptions into Wordle, TagCrowd, or similar apps to identify the most frequently used words.
Make it easy to read your resume quickly.
- Resumes are glanced at, not read thoroughly, when they are first looked at.
- There are only 5 seconds or so to create interest.
- Focus your resume on the results of your work that are relevant to the hiring managers' needs.
- Prioritize information the way ATS and readers want to see it: name, contact information, personal brand, skills, experience, education, certifications, awards, etc.
- Provide plenty of space, 1 inch side margins, and use an easy to read font like Arial 12pt
- Avoid using "old school" items, e.g., references or objectives. References will be asked for when wanted. Your objective is the job you are applying for; it's considered "old school" to write an objective.
Value the space in the top one-third of the first page:
- Put your name on the top line by itself. Don't add degrees or professional certifications with your name; place them elsewhere.
- Include your city, state, and ZIP code, not a street address, and never a PO Box number.
- Write a brief, concise personal brand statement and include a 'marketing hook' to keep human readers reading.
- Include a neatly organized list of your skills.
- Describe the results of your work, the outcomes of things you did. Results win interviews. Responsibilities, not so much.
- State your results briefly, crisply and succinctly.
- Use short sentences, not paragraphs, to describe your work.
- Prominently place critical results and outcomes of your work, preferably quantified.
- Be careful to use the fewest possible words to deliver your message. Cull out embellishment and save it for interviews. Focus on getting to the interview table first.
- Talk to the hiring manager before you apply! Find out his or her critical needs, and why he or she is hiring. Then can edit your resume and cover letter to respond before you apply formally.
Make sure you appease the preferences of ATS.
- For each job you held, state the company name, your job title, and dates of the job.
- Write your resume using text the ATS can and will read. Not all fonts work well. Choose your font wisely. Use a common Sans Serif font in 12 pt size, 11 pt minimum. Arial 12 pt is the ideal.
- Don’t use any graphics in your resume, just text.
- Word processing shortcut tools usually include hidden graphics for entering text. Don't use word processing shortcuts to create your resume.
- Don't nest multiple jobs under one company. Repeat the company name for each sequential job you held at the company.
- Submit resumes in plain text format (*.txt, not *.rtf) or Word (*.doc), but never PDFs. Some ATS providers claim they can read PDF's, but not all can. There are over 200 ATS software products. The company you apply to may not be using one that can read PDF's.
- Don’t attempt to game the system by hiding lots of keywords by making them colorless. ATS can reads all text, colorless or not, and may be set up to reject you if you game the system.