How to craft a powerful resume that gets read

I know how frustrating it is to work really hard and send out tons of resumes but only hear crickets.

Especially when you’ve wrestled with Word or Photoshop for hours trying to format the bloody thing, (what’s the deal with text moving where you don’t want it to?).

rage

So I wrote this blog post which lays out exactly what you need to do to actually get emailed back.

I’ve split it up into three step-by-step sections so your entire resume is taken care of … let’s start! 

Top ⅓ of the page

1. First things first, are your name and contact details clearly visible at the very top of the page? And is all your information correct/up-to-date?

(I know this sounds facepalm-worthy, but it’s just the sort of thing you’ll copy and paste from an old resume and forget to double-check … and you will facepalm yourself for it later, so do this FIRST!)


2. Does your email address sound professional?

Or is it more like ilikefurbiez–*2k4@yahoo.com because you got it when you were 12?

oops

Because if so, you need to change that ASAP. Something simple like your name, with fewer symbols, is definitely better.

Okay, great. The next part is your resume headline or profile. Whatever you’d like to call it.

3. What is your personal bio as it relates to this job? If you only had one or two sentences to make the best impression ever, what would you say?

You can think about things like:

– What kind of person are you?
– Why are you the perfect fit for this position?
– What is it that you can do so well that’ll make your employer’s life way easier?

Put this short profile at the top ofyour resume to give the employer a bit of context as to who you are, and to encourage them to read on.

Middle ⅓ of the page


Next, employers don’t have time to read absolutely every single thing on your resume. As much as we wish they did, (don’t they know how many tears you’ve cried over it?) but it’s just not possible.

design, desk, display

4. So, do you have an easily scannable section which lists your skills?

You can list your skills underneath your title at your different work places, or you can have an entirely separate section just dedicated to skills. But have at least one list somewhere!

“So what should we put in this list you keep banging on about?” I hear you cry. Well ….

5. What keywords or key skills does the employer use in their ad? List them out and make notes of which ones you meet and how you’ve met them.

For example a job ad might list “organized individual” in their requirements. Instead of just copying and pasting that phrase into your resume somewhere, think about how you’ve proven yourself to be organized.

Maybe at one of your past work experiences you created a new filing system which the office adopted.

donna

You can list that and write it in a way that uses the keywords from the job ad.

Like this: “Organized company records and created more efficient filing system.” BOOM.

You’ve shown them you’re an “organized individual” by giving a short example of how you’re organized rather than just telling them. Simples.  

One thing to think about in this meaty section of all the reasons you’re awesome is the one thing you’re most awesome at.

6. What’s your best asset or secret sauce you could bring to this job?

Jot down all your different skills and experiences, everything you can think of. Then pick one thing that is the most relevant, interesting or sought after asset (for this specific job).

Make this the first experience/skill you mention in your scannable list.

The higher up the page it is the better!

taylor-swift-awesome

7. Is your resume organized simply? Can an employer quickly scan and see where they can find the information they need?

Pretty resumes are important. But if an employer can’t instantly see where they can find the information they want to know, a fancy design doesn’t mean a thing.

Think of subtitles and list them out to begin prioritizing what you should say in this middle-meaty section.

Now you have a list of skills, experiences and subtitles so you can organize your resume. You need to decide what are THE most important things to include.

(Hint: ANYTHING that matches the job description is the most-most important, and anything that sets you apart as interesting or unique is the second most important thing!).

8. So can you whittle that long list down into bullet-points of relevant short sentences?

Use bullet points wherever you can, and really trim those sentences down. If you just add a bullet point to an epic paragraph, you’re still kind of missing the point, (pun definitely intended).

Your job now (before they hire you!) is to make it so damn easy for them to read your resume and see your brilliance. So avoid paragraphs. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. 

The last part of this middle section is (drum-roll please) …

9. What are your accomplishments in and out of work? What have you achieved, created, started, launched, or explored?

Employers read all the time about your “responsibilities”. But they want to know what did you create. What did you make happen?

Because that says so much more about who you are as a person and what you’re like to work with. So sprinkle some examples of this within your bullet points underneath your work experiences or in your headline if you can.

Use powerful words like: accomplished, initiated, launched etc., as the first word in the sentence to draw them in to read about your accomplishments.

Bottom ⅓ of the page


So you’ve dazzled them with experience after experience, and skill after skill. Now you need to show them you do have those wretched pieces of paper that say you’re “qualified”.

sorry

10. Create an education section. List the most recent first and then go backwards. But include only things that are relevant.

Don’t list out every GCSE (or SATs for our American friends) you’ve ever got, you can simply write: “9 GCSE’s A*-B.”  

However if you did do exceptionally well at school or university and won some esteemed certificates along the way, you can definitely throw a little mention of that in here.

rihanna

But if it’s from a very long time ago and of little significance, e.g. “won the school’s poetry competition when I was 7”, not that I ever did this or anything …

woops.gif

… it’s probably better to leave that one out.

We don’t want your potential employer thinking you’re still clinging onto your childhood victories, right?

11. And finally, what are those people who’ll back you up called? References! That’s it.

Unless you have a killer name to drop, try and keep the references section down to just two words: “References available”.

If it’d make you feel happier, you can of course put someone’s name down. But limit this to the best/most relevant contact you have. Include their email, phone number and their credit card details. (Just joking on the last one! Don’t do that! No … really, don’t).

Personally, I think you should only write an actual contact down if they’re relevant to this job’s industry.

If it’s just someone who will give you a character reference (i.e. tell your future employer how you’re the best person, EVER) then write: “References available”.

Employers know they can always ask you for more references if they are interested and really want to hear more about you. So don’t fret on that one.

That’s it! Now you have everything you need to know about how to write a killer resume, step-by-step. Click here to grab your free resume-building worksheet to easily craft a resume that gets you into interviews

 

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