13 Best resume (CV) tips for all job seekers
- Research.Research is one of your best tools when writing a resume. Since you have to target each resume you write to the job you want, you must know what the company is about and what they need from you as a prospective employee. You should also review the job requirements closely. Knowing exactly how you qualify will help you show that you’re the best match.
- Target your content for the job.A custom resume is a stand-out resume, so match everything you write to the job description. But be honest! If the job calls for someone with strong math skills and yours aren’t that great, focus on the skills you do have that match the position and tailor your achievements around those.
- Consider your audience.Hiring managers don’t have much time to spend pouring over every resume that comes their way. That’s why it’s so important to make every word count. Plus, your resume will likely come under the scrutiny of an applicant tracking system (ATS), which many companies use as frontline security to ensure that each resume meets basic criteria for the job. Your resume must be clear, formatted correctly, and match the job description to get past this discerning software.
- Use active voice.Phrases written in active voice (i.e., “Streamlined processes for a 50% increase in efficiency,”) are more engaging than those written in passive voice (i.e., Efficiency was increased by 50% due to new process”) because they denote authority and action — exactly what you want to present on a resume.
- Be concise.ATS programs and hiring managers all prefer resumes to be short and to the point. Your resume must fit on one or two pages, maximum. Write short statements that reflect your best achievements and skills.
- Be specific.If you want employers to see your value, then you’ve got to be crystal clear about what you offer. Don’t announce that you’re a “results-driven problem-solver.” Instead, prove it by giving a specific example of a problem you solved that stemmed from a results-driven approach.
- Don’t overdo it.For the most part, hiring managers prefer resumes and cover letters with clean and simple designs because it’s easier for them to find the information they want. It’s perfectly acceptable to pick a template with a splash of color, but flashy graphics and stylized fonts might make you stand out for the wrong reasons.
- Apply keywords from the job description.There’s that pesky ATS software again! ATS programs love keywords, and they are built to find them. They search for keywords that match the job description, so use as many of those as you can — if they truly apply to you. And don’t just stick them all in your skills section. You’ve got to sprinkle them throughout your resume so that when the hiring manager reads it, they’ll know how each keyword applies to your experience.
- Emphasize your achievements in your employment section.Most resumes have employment history sections with bulleted lists of job responsibilities for each job. We don’t recommend this approach because it doesn’t tell employers what you’re capable of doing for them. When hiring managers review resumes, they look for what job applicants have contributed to other companies. They want to see measurable achievements, not duties.
For example, this: “Created a grievance escalation procedure that reduced customers’ complaints by 40% over a three-month period” instead of this: “Accountable for handling customer complaints for the sales department
- Use power words.Words like accelerate, optimize, resolve, initiate, transform, enhance and spearhead evoke prospective hiring managers’ interest because they are dynamic, evoke emotion, and get right to the point. With so many words to choose from and numerous ways to use them, you’ll never run out of fresh ways to describe your qualifications.
- Be brutally honest.Lying can be a fatal mistake for your job search. If you get caught, not only could you lose the job, but it could damage your ability to get hired in the future. Always stick to the truth. If you’re not the right fit for the job, move on until you find your match.
- Focus on the employer.This may seem counterintuitive because you’re trying to sell yourself. Still, objectives that mention what you want from the job, lists of job duties filled with pronouns such as “I” or “me,” and life stories instead of summaries are big red flags for prospective employers. They want to know what you can do for them, so make them the focus of your resume.
- Proofread it.Red flags such as typos, inconsistencies, misspellings, improper formatting, inappropriate fonts and missing information will get noticed and can turn hiring managers off. Walk away after proofreading once and review your resume again with fresh eyes to make sure everything is in order.
- Build it.You’ve written every section of your resume at least twice, proofread and saved your final version, and you’re ready to send it off with a cover letter. Good work! Our easy-to-use Resume Builder will help you build a professional, application-ready document in minutes.