The resume is one of the most important tools in the job hunting process. You’ve already put in the hard work to study for college classes, participating in clubs on campus, and maybe even holding a side job or research position during your time at school.
You’ve done so much over the years that it can be hard to fit into one document. It’s not always clear to know which items are most important to recruiters and what they’re looking for when they make their hiring decisions.
Well, we’ve put together four tips to help you with writing your resume!
Tip #1: Use job titles that will catch the employer’s eye
Having past work experience, especially in a relevant area, is one of the most important qualifications that hiring managers look for on your resume. If they know you already have experience in a job function that they’re hiring for, you’ll be a step ahead of the other applicants.
Sometimes your past work experience may have a broad or generic title, or you may have referred to it many different ways. Also, you may have moved up or changed your responsibilities during your time in that role.
Think of what the hiring manager is looking for, and the title of the job that you are applying for. Use a job title that most closely aligns your past experience with your target role.
Of course, also be sure that the job title you use is reflective and accurate to your role. If a recruiter cross-checks your LinkedIn profile or talks with a reference, it’s a red flag if these are not similar.
For example, many students have research jobs during college. If you were to apply to an analyst position, it would be useful to list your past research experience as “Research Analyst”.
Tip #2: Use keywords strategically
Every field of study, industry, and company has their own unique lingo. They have common keywords, phrases, and acronyms to describe job titles and well-known topics in their field. It’s important that your resume speaks to both the role and industry to which you are applying.
There are certain keywords and items that a recruiter is looking for when they scan your resume, as there may be qualifications they need to check off in order to pass you along to the next step in the hiring process.
Luckily, these are usually explicitly listed in a job description. Be sure to read their hiring materials carefully and use similar terminology in your resume.
For example, if you’re applying to a job that lists the responsibilities as “running test cases and debugging code”, be sure to list and expand on those points in your resume if you have that experience.
Also, be careful with acronyms. Even if the hiring company uses them, it’s recommended to use them sparingly and write them out at least once in your resume.
Tip #3: Use action verbs and active voice to describe your responsibilities and accomplishments
Hiring managers and recruiters read many, many resumes. You don’t want to come across as just another piece of paper in their pile.
Writing in a passive voice tends to downplay your achievements and accomplishments, and can hurt the overall score a recruiter may grade you with. You can help your resume stand out by using action verbs and an active voice to best describe your responsibilities and accomplishments.
Check out this list of 20 recommended action words for your resume.
Tip #4: Spell check and proofread your resume
This is a basic tip, but one that’s too commonly skipped. Many students are so excited to get their resume completed and submitted to jobs and recruiters that they whip it up and send it out without a thorough review.
Recruiters commonly report that a simple grammar or spelling mistake can automatically land a candidate’s resume in the trash bin, no matter how qualified or perfect a match they are. You can be the best applicant for the job, but one typo can kill your chances at your dream job.
Of course, start by using your word processor’s spell check feature. Then, we also recommend trying an app like Grammarly or the Hemingway App. Both have free versions available and tend to catch and recommend a lot of things more advanced than basic grammar.
Finally, having a second set of eyes look at it is the best way to get a fresh perspective on your resume and catch simple errors. Ask a friend, classmate, or family member to read over your resume before you send it out.