Article

What Makes a Good Resume

It is not easy to stand out through thousands of applicants. But not everybody knows how to write a good resume. So you are in luck!

What Makes a Good Resume
Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
10 min read

Though thousands of people do it, not everyone knows how to write an effective piece of resume. As a result, recruiters are stuck with piles of resumes looking exactly the same. And if you do not put enough effort, yours will be somewhere in the middle of that pile, waiting to be trashed by a frustrated hiring manager. That is if your resume even gets passed the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This software singles out a quality resume before they reach human hands.

A study shows that 40% of employers nowadays use ATS's to filter out unqualified resumes before proceeding with the hiring process. So, making sure that your resume is well-prepared and optimized to pass these screening tests, as well as the scrutiny of the hiring manager, is more essential than ever before.

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But how do you stand out? What makes an effective resume?

If you want the final word on these nagging questions, stay right here. Here's what makes a great resume, broken down into six parts.

Power Words

Power Words are something that makes a strong resume. They are basically action verbs that prove to be an essential element of your resume. Overall, they provide a compelling and momentary context of your experience and the value you bring to your recruiter's organization.

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You will want to include action verbs in your resume from time to time to grab the hiring manager's attention. For example, you can use power words like this in your resume to make a strong pitch:

Example: Experienced new sales team representative on quality management, trained newbies to close sales, and worked as a counselor.

Remember that this is not about using swanky words. It's about connecting with your recruiter. So, use words that you think may capture an organization's attention.

Marketing

At the end of the day, your resume is a marketing document, selling you as an employee and helping you compete against other people who want to do the same. It's an ad, nothing less, nothing more!

A good resume does not emphasize what you have done but makes the same claim that all good advertisements do: buy this product and get these direct benefits.

Advertise yourself proficiently in your resume. Your resume should be appropriate to your situation and hit the right target. Unfortunately, the reality is that resumes often fail to incite interest in potential employers. So, even if you are standing behind the wall of fierce competition, a well-written resume will win over your prospective employers.

A good resume presents you in the best possible light. It clarifies to the employer that you have what it takes to be the absolute best in this new position.

But good marketing takes research. So, do your research before writing a resume for a particular employer. Visit their office or follow them on social media. Find out what kind of accomplishments they aim for and how you can add similar accomplishments to your resume? What is their idea of achievement? If they describe it as "substantial" or "breakthrough," how do you weave those words into your resume?

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A troubling fact that most recruiters spend anywhere from 6-7 seconds on every resume. To grab their attention right there, focus on the employer's needs rather than yours. Therefore, you should adapt your resume—even if moderately—for each job submission.

A Good Social Media

Social media is a primary catalyst for communication. While preparing your resume, include at least one of your social accounts. Make sure that the emails you include in your resume appear professional. For instance, you want to be jhon.greenengineer@xxx.com, not greenbird@xxx.com.

It is a researched fact that employers—65% or more—go through applicants' social media profiles regularly to see if they are fit to be part of their tribe. So, it is highly imperative that you review your social media accounts and see if there is anything to be cleaned up—anything that you would not want your recruiters to see.

A PRO TIP: make sure that you have consistent information on your various social media accounts. It is inadvisable to assume that prospective employers will only check out your LinkedIn profile. They may also go through your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

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Put all your efforts into creating a solid social media profile. Your social media can make you appear a thoughtful, positive, well-rounded, and motivated being. In addition, be active on social media, especially in a way that contributes to your professional abilities and interests. And while you are active on all your social media accounts, to accommodate search engines, ensure that you use the same consistent version of your professional name. For example, if you are Robert H. Williams on LinkedIn, you should be Robert H. Williams on your resume.

Leverage Keywords

Many organizations routinely scan resumes for keywords relevant to their field of work and culture. So, in addition to your professional name, there are leverage keywords to consider.

We advise you to use keywords that are customized for the kind of job position you are applying for. For instance, consider that the job you are seeking is titled "program assistant." But when you search for it online, you do not see this job title much. What you can do in that case is see what similar title appears more on LinkedIn, Indeed, etc. Mostly, the title that appears frequently is "Administrative Assistant." Use it as a keyword in your resume to increase your findability for hiring managers searching employees online.

Similar guidance holds true for achievements and skills. When tweaking your resume for a specific position, note what skills are required in their job description and use any number of those skills as keywords in your resume. For example, suppose if you are an expert in leading "stakeholder communications," but your prospective employer has used the term "stakeholder engagement" in the job description—that's right, include it in your resume and consider yourself an expert in stakeholder engagement.

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Then utilize the same methods to find more keywords that you think may appeal to your hiring manager. After conducting thorough research on your employer's social media and website pages—as well as media articles—prepare a list of pertinent keywords that appear repeatedly. Make an effort to include these words and phrases in your resume, but in a way that they don't look stuffed or forced.

Consider yourself walking a fine line—these words must translate your story. Use them effectively in the context of selling yourself.

Formatting

There is three basic types of formatting options available: chronological, functional, and combination. Generally, we advise you to go for the combined approach—but depending on the kind of job you are applying to, this choice can vary.

For instance, if you are seeking a job in the fields of law, engineering, or science, a chronological resume would be best. On the other hand, if you are applying for a job after a long break, a functional resume would best describe your skills. Conversely, a combined approach is best if you want to showcase your creativity.

Chronological

The chronological approach highlights your professional experiences, giving recruiters an overview of your past jobs and present skills. It lists down your work experiences from top to the bottom, showing your first to the last position in the workforce. It briefly indicates what time period you have given to each organization. Typically, it is assumed the longer you have stayed at one job, the more trust a company has in your skills.

Functional

The focus of this type of formatting is work skills. A functional approach specifies your talents by means of the skills you have highlighted. This type of formatting is usually recommended when you are changing your career or entering the job market after a long time. A functional resume is also very fitting for generalists, people with divergent careers, people with plenty of skills in their given vocation, students, military officers, etc.

Combination

A combined approach is a blend of chronological and functional resumes. This is the most recommended resume formatting if you are applying to an entry-level job position.

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A combination resume can be a shorter job description followed by a brief "Skills and Achievements" section. It can also be a longer summary, enlisting all your skills and qualifications. If you don't want to go for that, you can make it look like a standard functional resume with your achievements enlisted under headings of previous jobs.

A Well-Written Summary

Your summary of qualifications consists of several brief statements that aim to capture the reader's attention. It emphasizes your most important achievements, qualities, and skills.

Please note if you are on LinkedIn, your resume summary must reflect what you have on your LinkedIn summary. There is no need for them to match exactly as you have a lot more space to work within LinkedIn but ensure that they are close enough to form consistency. In short, you should be recognizable as the same person—that is the point!

The things you mention in your resume summary should be the most concise yet the most powerful demonstration of why you should be preferred over other candidates. Consider it as a brief window of opportunity which highlights your most compelling qualities.

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In fact, this may be the only section that recruiters read intently, so make sure it is solid and persuasive. The summary is where you include professional characteristics (problem-solving worker, highly energetic, excellent personal skills, a natural administrator, committed to quality, etc.). Stuff every word in your summary very precisely—in a way that gets you to the interview chair.

Here are some ingredients that make a well-written summary:

  • A short phrase explaining your vocation
  • A statement of specific expertise
  • 2-3 additional comments highlighting any of the following: Depth of skills, a unique mix of skills, a well-documented or special achievement, a history of promotions, rewards, or recommendations, a range of environments you have worked in previously.
  • One or more professional or personal characteristics
  • A brief sentence detailing your interests or objectives

It is not necessary to use all these ingredients in your summary. Use only the ones that describe you best.

Here is an example of the summary section:

"Health Care Professional with brief experience in program development, policymaking in the U.S., and management. Proficiency in emergency medical care. A talent for finding innovative solutions, analyzing complex problems, simplifying procedures, and developing real-time ideas. Proven ability to influence and work alongside people from different cultures. Skilled in working within remote environments."

Final Words

Writing a good and powerful resume is essential to put yourself in a better position. But for that, your resume must stand out from the rest of the applicants. Try to sound confident in your resume as it is the piece of document that reflects your personality and abilities. Make sure that it is neither too long nor too short.

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While writing your resume, try to avoid grammatical or spelling errors—as well as make it easier to read. Apart from that, follow the suggestions given in the article.

You are all good to go!