How to Make a Resume: Step-by-Step Instructions for Landing the Job

Learn how to craft an effective resume that showcases your skills and experiences to catch the attention of hiring managers.

Key takeaways:

  • Pick the Right Resume Format: Choose a format that suits your experience and aligns with industry norms.
  • Focus On Achievements Whenever Possible: Highlight accomplishments, quantify results, and include awards or recognition.
  • Tailor Your Resume to the Job: Customize your resume to match the job description and reflect the company’s culture.
  • Consider Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Software: Optimize your resume for keywords, use straightforward section headers, and keep formatting simple.
  • Emphasize Your Know-How in the Skills Section: Identify core skills, categorize them effectively, include soft skills, and use keywords.

Pick the Right Resume Format

Understanding the three core types of resume formats—chronological, functional, and combination—will guide you in showcasing your qualifications effectively. Chronological resumes focus on work history, ideal for a straightforward career trajectory. Functional resumes emphasize skills over past job titles, suitable for career changers or those with gaps in employment. A combination resume merges both approaches, highlighting relevant skills while detailing work history. Selecting the correct format ensures that your unique experience is presented in the most compelling way. Remember to align with industry norms; some fields favor certain formats over others. Opt for simplicity and clarity, as a well-organized resume aids hiring managers in quickly assessing your fit for the role.

Focus On Achievements Whenever Possible

Highlighting achievements rather than duties transforms a resume, giving it a performance-focused edge. Achievements demonstrate how you’ve excelled in your role and contributed to your employer’s success. To convey your accomplishments:

  • Quantify results wherever possible. Did you increase sales, efficiency, or customer satisfaction? Attach numbers to these successes.
  • Describe scenarios where you solved a problem, showing your analytical and decision-making skills.
  • Awards or recognition should be included, signaling peer or management validation of your work ethic and talent.
  • If career successes are scarce or hard to quantify, consider projects or tasks where your contribution was critical and detail the outcome.

Remember, this is your professional highlight reel; it’s not just about what you did but how well you did it.

Tailor Your Resume to the Job

Understanding the job description is key. Sift through the requirements and highlight the skills and experiences that align closely with your own. Incorporating these keywords and phrases into your resume will not only grab the attention of hiring managers but also help you pass the initial screening by ATS software.

Experience sections should be more than a chronology of your work history. Connect your past roles to the job at hand by emphasizing relevant responsibilities and achievements. For instance, if the job emphasizes teamwork, detail your collaborative projects.

Education qualifications can often be straightforward, but you can still tailor this section. If you’ve taken courses or certifications directly applicable to the job, make sure these are prominent. It’s not just about the degree you hold, but the relevant knowledge you’ve gained.

Your resume should also reflect the company’s culture and values. Does the company prioritize innovation, or does it have a strong community focus? Reflect these values in the experiences and accomplishments you choose to highlight.

Lastly, there’s no one-size-fits-all. A resume for a tech startup will look drastically different from one aimed at a corporate law firm. Layout, language, and even the hobbies you list can be adjusted to better fit the company and role you’re applying for.

Consider Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Software

Understanding how an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) works is essential in today’s job market. The ATS is used by employers to filter resumes based on specific keywords related to the job description. To ensure your resume passes through this digital gatekeeper, consider the following points:

– Optimize for keywords: Scrutinize the job posting and identify the relevant keywords and phrases. Include these words naturally in your resume to match the job criteria.

– Use straightforward section headers: “Work Experience,” “Education,” and “Skills” are clear and recognizable to ATS software. Steer clear of creative headings that the system may not recognize.

– Keep formatting simple: Elaborate fonts, images, or charts can confuse ATS systems. Stick to standard fonts like Arial or Times New Roman, and avoid headers or footers that may contain information vital to your application.

– Avoid tables and columns: Text boxes, tables, and columns can disrupt the scanning process. It’s best to present your information in standard, top-to-bottom text format.

– Send as a Word document or PDF: These file types are typically ATS-friendly. Check if the job posting specifies a preferred format.

By implementing these strategies, you increase the likelihood that your resume will make it through the ATS and into human hands for the next stage of the recruitment process.

Emphasize Your Know-How in the Skills Section

A well-crafted Skills section can distinguish your resume from others. Here’s how to showcase your expertise effectively:

Identify Core Skills: Start by listing the core competencies the job requires which might include technical skills, languages, or industry-specific tools.

Categorize Them: Break down skills into relevant categories. For example, ‘Technical Skills,’ ‘Languages,’ and ‘Management Abilities’ can sort your capabilities clearly for the reader.

Include Soft Skills: Soft skills are just as pivotal as hard skills. Include ones like ‘team leadership,’ ‘problem-solving,’ and ‘time management,’ ensuring they align with the job description.

Keep It Relevant: Only list skills pertinent to the job. Highlighting expertise in areas not required for the position can dilute the impact of your key qualifications.

Use Keywords: Integrate keywords from the job description. This not only makes your resume more compelling to hiring managers but also helps in optimizing it for ATS software.

Quantify Proficiency: If possible, back up your skills with metrics or levels of proficiency. For example, state if you are ‘proficient’ or ‘expert’ in software or tools relevant to the job.

Progressively Update: As you gain new skills or certifications, update this section. Your resume remains current and demonstrates a commitment to professional growth.

Remember, this section is a snapshot of your capabilities, so make each point count.

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