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August 10, 2021

10 proven tips for building better resumes

Applying for new jobs is exciting—and stressful. Updating or creating a new resume can be a challenge, especially if you haven’t changed jobs recently. If you’re confused or discouraged, it’s time to get some tried-and-true resume help.

Woman using a digital pen inking to review a resume Word document using HP Spectre X360

In this blog post, we rounded up necessary information about resumes, and ten tips to help yours shine.

What is a resume?

Most recruiters ask job candidates to send their resumes alongside cover letters and recommender information. In academia, they ask for curriculum vitae (CVs). These are rarely requested in a business setting.

In the business world, a resume is a single-paged document that lists a person’s professional background and skills. It can cover a variety of topics, including your:

  • Professional summary
  • Prior jobs
  • Education
  • Certificates
  • Licenses
  • Skill sets
  • Awards and honors

While resumes often contain these core materials, they rarely look the same. You can organize your resume chronologically, by function, or a mix of the two. You can use plain white paper with black lettering, or add color and interesting shapes.

You can format your resume however you’d like, as long as it is organized and appealing. However, it does need to reflect your unique qualities.

Why is having a good resume relevant?

Resumes are often the first thing recruiters look through. Cover letters, recommenders, and professional websites come later.

Recruiters spend 7.4 seconds screening your resume before they decide whether or not to keep looking at it. In that time, recruiters must be able to determine your work history and if you’ll be suitable for the position.

After the initial scan, recruiters want to review the highlights of your career. If your resume is well-written, they see your job history at its finest.

Resume help: 10 resume tips

So how can you make your resume stand out? You should:

  • Use simple formatting. Recruiters will scan your resume quickly. If the formatting is overly complex, they might put it down. Carefully balance font style, font size, layout, and design. Use bullet points and bold headings to break up the text.
  • Place an overview or mission statement at the top. Your most important information should be at the top of your resume. An overview at the top gives your recruiter a good sense of you right away.
  • Include both hard and soft skills. Today’s recruiters aren’t just looking for hard skills. They want to be sure that you can thrive in their offices, too. Depending on the job you’re applying for, include a mixture of both hard and soft skills.
  • Show results where you can. Don’t just mention your capabilities. You’ll need to show results, too. Include numbers where you can, and give small, telling details that show how you have helped projects succeed.
  • Leave off what you can. Packed resumes often look disorganized. Include what is relevant to the role you’re applying for. You can leave off items like your mailing address and social media accounts, too, unless they’re necessary.
  • Be consistent with your design and text. To help make your resume clear, ensure your colors and fonts are consistent. If you use specific tactics in formatting, like bullet points or sentence fragments, stay consistent throughout.
  • Get creative. If you work in a creative field, experiment with design and presentation. If you don’t work in a creative field, you can still get creative with your text. Think of ways to reword items to exemplify their challenges and how you overcame them.
  • Keep it to one page. Recruiters expect a one-page resume. While this can be a hurdle, it’s also a good thing. One page forces you to focus on the aspects of your history and present skills that matter.
  • Proofread. Finally, you’ll need to proofread. Grammar and spelling errors can make your resume look unprofessional. It can help to read your resume out loud. You might even want to put your resume away for a day and come back to it later with fresh eyes.

Should you ever pay for resume help?

There are various businesses and freelancers who will write your resume for a fee.

If you are extremely stressed out about your resume and have absolutely no idea where it should start, this can be a good option. It might help your anxiety to know that a professional is in charge. Plus, your resume writer will certainly write you a relevant, clear resume.

However, if you pay someone to write your resume:

  • It will cost you
  • The finished product might seem clichéd
  • It will be difficult for them to reflect your personality
  • Your writing at a later stage (cover letter, emails, thank you note, etc.) might seem obviously different

Authoring your resume is free, and you’ll be able to make it unique. When you get a job, it will be apparent to your coworkers that the person who wrote your resume was you.

Plus, if you have a Microsoft account, you can use templates to get you started.

Getting resume help with templates in Word

Word templates are free for anyone who wants to start their resume off strong.

If you’re short on time, you can simply select a template, enter your information, and be done with it. If you just want a place to get started, Microsoft templates are easy to personalize.

With templates in Word—and our ten tips—you can get the resume help you need to start wowing recruiters.

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