Top 5 Tips: How to Write an Effective Résumé

The purpose of a résumé is to land an interview; end of story. If you get an interview, you’ll need to convince the employer to hire you. It’s incredibly helpful to keep this in mind as you write the résumé so you can focus on demonstrating that you meet the employer’s specific requirements for the role. If you are committed to pursuing a specific professional role, you’ll need to put in the time to make your résumé as close to perfect as possible. Résumé writing is an art, but there are technical elements which anyone can execute on if they pay close attention to the details:

  1. Prove your successes! It’s not enough to say what you did, or even how you did it. The best way to write about your accomplishments is to describe a problem, how you addressed it, and what the quantitative outcome was. An example:
    1. Don’t say this: “Sold home and auto insurance products and helped clients to understand benefits.”
    2. Say this: “Sold an average of $1.2 million in home and auto insurance products per year over the past 5 years and increased new client base by 30% over the past 3 years by developing a free monthly insurance seminar.”
  2. It has to look good. Make your résumé consistent and symmetrical (i.e. vertically and horizontally balanced); it takes a lot of work to make this happen on a line-by-line basis, but studies show that symmetrical, nice-looking résumés are more effective. Consistent use of punctuation and formatting is important to achieving this nice visual effect, but it also shows your ability to be detail-oriented and professionally polished.
  3. Follow the basic rules. Most résumés should be two full pages, contain only one font, one font-size (11-12pt, except for your name at the top, which can be larger) with a Serif font (like Times New Roman), make very limited use of italics and bolding, contain some kind of summary (really, a sales pitch) at the top, a detailed work history, a list of relevant skills, and a list of your relevant education and training. Don’t get too creative with formats, colors, fonts, or quirky elements and keep the margins ample for improved readability and a cleaner look. There are good ways and bad ways to stand out :)
  4. Know what the employer wants. Write your résumé to reflect the employer’s needs, not your personal story. Develop themes which allow you to market yourself to the employer in a way that makes them want you.
  5. Make NO mistakes. You might get an interview if you have a single typo or grammatical problem, but not with two. Read your résumé forward and backward multiple times and ask a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor to do the same. Then, wait 72 hours and do it again!

If you are interested in learning more, feel free to contact me or sign-up for my résumé service. For more information about what a résumé consultant can offer you, check out my blog post, 7 Reasons to Write Your Own Résumé.

Posted in career services