I’m a freelance writer who has been creating custom resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles for over a year. Throughout my time with Let’s Eat, Grandma, I have learned and developed skills to maximize the personalized assistance I give every client. This experience has transformed the way I look at professional documents, and the job hunting world as a whole.
Over the years I’ve learned that resume writing is much more complicated than people tend to think. While you can just toss your name, contact information, and experience on a document and hope for the best, without proper formatting and keywords, it won’t be effective enough to land any position, let alone your dream job. (If you’re unsure if this applies to your resume, you can get a free critique here.)
To create an impactful and successful resume, you have to take a strategic approach. Not only do you have to figure out how to present yourself and your experience in the best way possible (which is difficult enough), you also have to adapt your resume to different jobs throughout your search, especially if you are at a crossroads in your career path.
Fortunately, there are methods that can simplify the process and make writing your resume a bit less intimidating. That’s why I’ve put together the top resume writing tips from myself, other experienced and accomplished professional resume writers on the Let’s Eat, Grandma team, and our long-time managing editor. Our writers are well-known for creating quality documents that put jobseekers at ease during pivotal moments of their careers, and are happy to help you get started.
5 Top Tips from Professional Resume Writers
1. Write accomplishment-based bullet points
“Focus on results, not just job duties. Instead of simply listing your job responsibilities, highlight your achievements and quantify them whenever possible.”
Katy McElroy, LEG Managing Editor
Katy’s tip really gets to the core of a well-written resume. Many people just list their job duties in their professional experience section, but then you end up with a resume that’s generic and not memorable.
Instead, listing your greatest achievements will help you stand out. For example, rather than stating that you managed a team, mention that you increased team productivity by 25% through the implementation of a new process. This approach not only showcases your abilities and accomplishments, but also provides concrete evidence of your value to potential employers.
2. Target your resume
“Your resume will be much more effective if you have a target in mind. Recent graduates in particular tend to think of a resume as a tool to get any job, and their desire and willingness to work for anyone who will hire them is commendable. But I use an archery analogy that seems to resonate: imagine you are blindfolded and holding a bow and arrow. You’re trying to hit a target, but you have 360 degrees of space around you to shoot at. The smaller you can make the area you’re aiming for, the greater your odds of hitting something.”
Jennifer’s tip focuses on an often-overlooked aspect of resumes: the target audience. While most applicants use the exact same resume for each job posting, altering the document based on the specific requirements and keywords used in the description can hugely increase your chances of getting through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and being acknowledged by a recruiter.
Additionally, Jennifer makes a great point about quality over quantity. Why you may be in the market for any job that will have you, it’s important to think about your top skills, strengths, and aspirations. For example, if you don’t have an industry preference but are an accomplished leader and organizer, you might apply specifically to project management-related roles, which allows you to more efficiently optimize your professional documents and LinkedIn profile.
Instead of submitting the same basic resume that covers all of your skills and experience to each job posting, take some time to read and consider what each position is looking for, and how your unique history will help you fill that role.
3. Always check your file type
“Make sure your resume is in a PDF format to increase your chances of the system understanding it correctly. Most ATS’s will understand a .doc file, but as a general rule, always send your resume in a PDF format and never as a .jpg.”
Lola Salaverri, Recruiter and Professional Resume Writer
Lola’s tip is practical and rooted in her extensive experience as a recruiter. Most recruiters use an ATS to sort and screen applicants and their resumes. This saves time and money in the hiring process, but adds another hurdle for jobseekers. To be sure your resume successfully passes through an ATS, you need to make sure it is the proper file type and is formatted correctly. (If you’re confident in your content but unsure of your formatting, one of our writers can look it over and critique it for free.)
Make sure you check the job posting for a preference in file type. This attention to detail can keep you from being thrown out on a technicality, and show that you actually read the description.
4. Combine metrics and personality
“My tip is to combine personality with job data and metrics to create a three dimensional summary of the client. For solid executive-level summaries, I ask questions that draw out the client’s personality, and I learn so much more about them than by sticking to metrics. I spent 10 years in HR and learned that personal, leading questions get people to open up without the added pressure of speaking about their work.”
Kelli’s tip is key to stepping up your resume, especially for those applying to executive positions. While metrics clearly and concisely show your impact and value, a compatible personality is also a major factor that employers look for. Your traits, such as empathy, dedication, and leadership, can give you a leg up, especially when you combine them with verifiable results.
For example, if your dedicated mentorship led to five company employees being promoted or helping the department in a significant way, you have just demonstrated lasting and supportive leadership while proving your efforts are advantageous to a business.
You can still put Kelli’s tip to use even if you aren’t working with a professional resume writer. You can interview yourself, or ask a friend, family member, or colleague to help. Some questions Kelli suggests are:
- What inspired you to get into this industry?
- What’s the best part of your day?
- Tell me something that would surprise your colleagues to know about you.
- Tell me about your leadership style.
- What excites you about your current role?
5. Show the big picture–but zoom in
“Unless you’re a new graduate, there’s a good chance you aren’t going to be able to fit every detail of your career on your resume. That’s why you have to distill it down to its most important, relevant, and impactful parts – which takes a lot of consideration, editing, and rewriting to get right.”
Anabelle Weissinger, Professional Resume Writer (and your guide to this article)
A common temptation my clients face is the want to include everything from their experience, no matter how applicable to their current job search. Sometimes, they’re even prepared to go past two pages to include it all. When I dig a bit deeper, I usually find this is rooted in a fear of looking inexperienced or appearing to have gaps in their career.
There’s a simple solution to keeping your resume tight, but comprehensive: the additional experience section. This goes after your most relevant professional experience, and shows your employment over time without taking up too much space.
It’s also important to list your most useful and relevant skills, particularly technical skills, first. A recruiter needs to know about your CRM skills before your time management capabilities.
Prioritize the key skills from the job description, and utilize the keywords in your professional summary to quickly show that you’re compatible with the company culture. If you find yourself wanting to add more but running out of room, don’t worry–you can utilize your cover letter and LinkedIn to create a full scope of who you are as a professional.
How a Professional Resume Writer Can Help
A well-crafted resume can get you over the hurdles of ATS, grab the attention of a recruiter, and quickly show a hiring manager that you are experienced and capable.
If you need additional assistance, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. The writers in this article, and the entire LEG team, are ready and eager to help you land interviews. You can learn more about professional resume writing pricing here, or what to expect from a talented professional resume writer here.
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