In today's digital age, with just a few clicks, you can create your software-generated resumes. However, the problem with relying solely on software-generated resumes is that they often lack the human touch that can make a candidate stand out from the crowd. So, if you are searching for a job in this highly competitive world, then without any doubt you need to create a resume that makes you unique from other candidates with software-generated resumes.
Hence, it is always better to either create your resumes yourselves or get resume writing services but now the question arises where to start? Crafting a resume that will impress potential employers can seem like a daunting task, but fear not. In this comprehensive resume guide, we'll take you through the essential steps of creating a resume and mistakes to avoid that not only result in highlighting your achievements but also captures the unique qualities that set you apart from the rest.
Effective steps to creating a persuasive resume for your job
1. Select the correct resume format
There are different types of resumes that are used worldwide by millions of job seekers out there. Each type of resume format serves a unique purpose and by choosing the right format wisely, one can make all the difference in landing their dream job. The resume formats that job candidates opt for include chronological resumes, functional resumes, combination resumes, graphic resumes, video resumes, infographic resumes and so on.
The choice of resume format to use depend on various factors such as the job seeker's career goals, work experience, skills, and personal preferences. It's important to choose the right format that will highlight your strengths and qualifications in the best possible way and help you stand out from other applicants.
Out of all the resume formats, mainly there are three formats of creating resumes namely chronological, functional and combination that are used by the majority. Let’s discuss the three main types of resume formats in detail.
i. Chronological resume - As the name suggests, this resume format lists your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent or current job and working backward through your employment history. This is the most common and straightforward format that is used worldwide. Employers also prefer chronological resumes as they can quickly see the candidate's work history, the length of time spent at each job, and their career growth.
Best suitable for - This type of resume format is ideal for those job seekers that have a consistent work history with few employment gaps or fewer changes in career direction and want to highlight career progression at different seniority levels.
Chronological resume example
ii. Functional resume - A functional resume focuses on the functional or transferable skills of the candidate rather than their work history. It highlights the candidate's abilities, achievements, and strengths, which can be applied to a wide range of positions and industries. This is the second most common format that allows job seekers to organize the candidate's skills and abilities into specific categories, such as "Leadership Skills," "Technical Skills," or "Communication Skills," which makes it easier for the employer to quickly identify their strengths.
- Best suitable for - The second most widely used resume format is best for candidates who want to showcase their skills and qualifications in a more prominent way, especially when their work experience is limited, irrelevant, or not continuous.
Functional resume example
iii. Combination resume - A combination resume, also known as a hybrid resume, is a resume format that combines elements of both the chronological and functional resume formats. It is often considered the most flexible and versatile resume format as it allows job seekers to showcase both their skills and work history.
Best suitable for - As this type of resume format showcases both work history and skills, it is ideal for pro-experienced people that have a solid work history but also want to highlight specific skills.
Example of a combination resume
After you have selected the format of resume you want to continue with, now it is time to move ahead to the next step of creating a resume which is creating an impressive resume header.
2. Create an impressive header
The header section on your resume is the very first section that your employer will notice. Hence, it needs to be perfectly aligned with the professional standards of the position you are applying for. The below table shows what exactly needs to be included and excluded from the header section along with their key considerations.
|Must have ones||Optional ones (but could be important ones)||Better to avoid ones|
|Item||Key considerations||Item||Key considerations||Item||Key considerations|
|Name||Include both: your first and last name||Social media (preferably LinkedIn)||Always try to add your LinkedIn profile because as per statistics, adding LinkedIn has a positive impact but only 48% of people add their LinkedIn profiles.||Unprofessional emails||Examples like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com can create a negative impression on the recruiter or hiring manager who is reviewing your application.|
|Phone number||Include country code while writing the phone number||Website||Include name and URL for better understanding||Birthdate||Unnessary information that can even be used for discriminatory purposes on the basis of age|
|Email address||Must be a professional email address.||Portfolio||Must be shown if your job title requires you to showcase your work for example Modelling, Graphic designer, editors and others.|
|Location||Only mention the city and country||Photo||Need to adhere to the legal and professional standards of the country you are applying. For example, In some countries, including the United States or Australia, it is generally not recommended to include a photo on a resume in order to avoid unconscious bias in the hiring process. On the other hand, in countries like Europe or India, it is more common to include a photo on a resume.|
|Job title||Should be tailored as per the job you are applying|
|Resume objective (If you are fresher)||Communicate in a concise and clear way about your career goals and how they align with the position.|
|Resume summary (If you are experienced)||Provide a brief overview of your professional experience, skills, and achievements, and highlight how they can add value to the company you are applying to.|
After adding the essential and optional information lastly comes the resume summary or resume objective which is another important element of the header. These sections give the hiring managers a brief overview of your qualifications and professional goals, enabling them to determine whether you are a good fit for the position. It's crucial to include an impressive resume objective and/or summary because it can help rapidly catch the attention of your hiring manager or recruiter.
i. Resume objective - A resume objective is especially useful for candidates who are just starting their career or who are looking to change careers, as it allows them to clearly communicate their career goals and how they align with the position they are applying for.
While writing the resume objective, you will add your level of education, course opted, skills obtained and how you will apply the skills. For your better understanding, let’s have a look at the resume objective of a content writer who aspires to apply for a job in the same field.
As a recent graduate with a postgraduate degree in English literature and a passion for writing, I am seeking a position as a content writer. I have developed strong writing skills through my coursework and internships, and I am excited to apply these skills in a professional setting. My goal is to create engaging and informative content that will help clients achieve their marketing objectives. I believe that I will be an asset to your highly reputed company and add more value to it.
Key takeaway: Always try to add a compliment for the company in your resume objective. This persuades your readers to like you in exchange for the compliment you mention in your resume because of the likeability principle of persuasion which ultimately increases your chances of getting the interview.
ii. Resume summary - A resume summary, on the other hand, is useful for candidates who have more experience and want to highlight their key skills and accomplishments. It can be an effective way to quickly demonstrate your value as a candidate and make a strong first impression.
While writing the resume summary, ensure to add your work experience with a total number of years, your workplace achievements, or any other things that you feel are important enough for your potential employer to know.
Motivated sales executive with over 5 years of experience in developing and implementing successful sales strategies. Consistently exceeded sales targets, resulting in a 20% increase in revenue for the company in the last 5 years. Skilled in building and maintaining relationships with clients and identifying new business opportunities. A proven track record of leading teams to achieve sales objectives and mentoring junior sales representatives. Looking to leverage my experience and drive to achieve sales success in a new role.
3. Focus on resume sections
There are different resume sections that need to be taken under consideration while creating a compelling resume.Further, we will discuss all the three sections of the resume namely work experience, education, and skills one by one.
This section provides a detailed account of your past work history and accomplishments, which allows the readers to assess your qualifications for the job you are applying for. Writing a good work experience section is important in resume writing because it is often the most important and relevant section for recruiters or hiring managers reviewing your application. Hence, while writing this section of the resume, you need to consider various factors, out of which the very first is what needs to be included. The following things need to be included in the work experience section of your resume.
i. Job Title: This information ensures that your hiring manager is aware of the level of responsibility and the scope of your previous roles.
ii. Employment Dates: Including employment dates help to demonstrate your experience and longevity in previous positions, as well as showing any gaps or periods of unemployment.
iii. Achievements: This information about your achievements helps the hiring manager understand your level of performance and the impacts you had in your previous job roles.
Focusing on giving out the specific details of your previous job roles in the work experience section of your resume demonstrating your expertise and highlighting your achievements can make you stand out as a strong candidate.
Avoid using fancy words or buzzwords because it is one of the easiest ways to lose someone’s attention. Statistics also validate that 51% of resumes have buzzwords, fancy, cliches, or the incorrect use of pronouns which decrease their chance to crack the interviews. Moreover, when you start using the same cliche words that go in every resume, it decreases your chances to stand out from the pool of applicants that applied for the same position. Hence, always try to be subtle with the words you use while creating a resume.
Always try to use metrics in your resume while writing about your achievements in the work experience. By using metrics, you can showcase your impact and performance in a more concrete and tangible way, which can make your resume more compelling and help you stand out as a strong candidate for the position. Moreover, it also satisfies the principle of persuasion of authority by showcasing your significant impact on your previous jobs highlighted on your resumes.
There is a formula that every job seeker should follow which was given by the former Google senior vice president of personnel operations, Laszlo Bock. In order to assist job seekers to jot down their achievements, Laszlo Bock states that the candidates should always focus on a formula that states, “Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y], by doing [Z]”.
Here is what each component of the formula states
- "Accomplished by X": This section refers to the specific achievement or result you accomplished. For example, "Increased sales revenue" or "Improved customer satisfaction ratings."
- "Measured by Y": This refers to the metrics or measures that you used to quantify your accomplishment. For example, "by 25%" or "from 75% to 90%."
- "By doing Z": This refers to the specific actions you took to achieve the result. For example, "by implementing a new sales strategy" or "by streamlining customer service processes."
To understand this better, let’s have a look at the example of the implementation of this formula in the resume of an experienced content writer
Increased website traffic by 50% and engagement by 25% by developing and executing content marketing strategies, including conducting market research to identify target audience and topics, creating and optimizing blog posts, developing email campaigns, and collaborating with social media teams to promote content.
Similar to work experience, education is another vital section that can make a strong impact on your readers. Adding education is important in resumes because it provides an overview of your academic background and qualifications.
However, you have to make sure that your education level is perfectly aligned with the position you are applying for. You can even add a section stating how your education will help you in achieving your SMART goals.
Listing your education can also demonstrate your commitment to learning and professional development, and can indicate your level of expertise in a particular field. It can also show your hiring managers that you possess the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the role you are applying for.
Hence, it is essential for you to ensure that you do not commit any sort of mistake in this section that can negatively impact your hiring process. For this, the following table represents what information you could include in the education section of your resume categorized as must-have information and optional information.
|Must have information||Optional information|
|Programme/course name||Relevant courses|
|University/college||Honors/Awards - If any of the achievements are from mid or senior level, it helps build authority|
|Years of study||GPA - Only if it is above 3|
|Voluntary experiences - Helps in case of freshers|
|Hobbies and interest|
By including these details in your education section, you can provide potential employers with a clear and concise overview of your educational background and qualifications. This can help them evaluate whether you have the necessary skills and knowledge for the position and make a well-informed hiring decision.
Moreover, If you have taken additional courses or received academic honors, it shows that you have taken initiative to go above and beyond what was required of you. This can demonstrate your passion and dedication for your field and your willingness to invest in your own education.
Lastly comes the adding your hard skills and soft skills in your resume that distinguishes you from the pool of talent. Adding hard and soft skills is important in a resume because it helps to demonstrate your suitability and qualifications for the job you are applying for. In fact, resume statistics validate that 90% of hiring managers feel that skills are crucial sections of a resume.
Hard skills are technical or job-specific abilities that are learned through training or education. Examples of hard skills include proficiency in a programming language, knowledge of a specific software or tool, or experience in a particular industry. Including relevant hard skills in your resume can help to demonstrate your expertise and qualifications for the job.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal skills that are more difficult to quantify and measure, such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. These skills are highly valued by employers, as they can indicate your ability to work effectively with others, adapt to changing situations, and solve problems creatively. Including relevant soft skills in your resume can help to demonstrate your interpersonal abilities and can set you apart from other candidates.
Some of the common soft skills and hard skills as per the research conducted by Zety found in resumes are listed below.
Skills to put in resume
|Soft skills found in resumes||Hard skills found in resumes|
|Communication: 11%||Microsoft Office: 12%|
|Leadership: 9%||Project Management: 6%|
|Time Management: 8%||Microsoft Excel: 6%|
|Problem Solving: 7%||Python: 3.8%|
|Customer Service: 5%||Salesforce: 3.6%|
|Teamwork: 5%||SQL: 2.9%|
|Organization: 2%||Java: 3%|
|Creativity: 1.7%||Microsoft Word: 2.7%|
|Adaptability: 4.3%||Public Speaking: 1.9%|
And that’s it, you are all done with creating your resume. However, even after all of this, there are still some common mistakes made by job seekers while creating their resumes which can negatively affect their job prospects. Some of them are mentioned below.
Common mistakes to avoid in resume writing
Your resume is the first impression a potential employer has of you. Therefore, it is essential to avoid common mistakes in a resume to create a favourable impression and increase the chances of getting hired.
i. Grammatical and spelling errors: A resume with spelling or grammatical errors reflects poorly on your attention to detail and communication skills. Hence, always proofread your resume multiple times and use tools like Grammarly to catch any mistakes.
ii. Lack of customization: Your resume should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. This means that you need to take the time to read the job description carefully and adjust your resume to highlight the skills and experience that match the requirements of the job.
iii. Missing keywords: Many companies use automated tools such as Applicant Tracking Systems to screen resumes for specific keywords related to the job. Make sure to include relevant keywords throughout your resume, especially in the skills and experience sections.
iv. Too long or too short: Your resume should be long enough to include all of the relevant information, but not so long that it becomes tedious to read. Generally, the ideal length of a resume is 475 to 600 words and did you know 77% of the resumes fell outside this length which directly impacts the chances of getting hired?
v. Putting education above experience: It is possible that a hiring manager may not read a resume all the way through. In such cases, putting education above experience may mean that the most relevant and compelling information is buried towards the end of the document. Additionally, many hiring managers are looking for specific skills and qualifications that match the job requirements. By placing education above experience, a candidate may miss the opportunity to showcase their relevant skills and experience that align with the job description, reducing their chances of being selected for an interview.
vi. Paraphrased content: Lastly, you need to ensure that there is no way you should copy any information from other resumes to your resume. In fact, there are many businesses that run a plagiarism check even for resumes to check the integrity and ethics before hiring potential employees. Hence, in order to avoid plagiarism, you need to ensure that you write genuine information throughout your resume.
To conclude, creating a compelling resume is the first step towards getting hired at your dream job. Hence, it is really essential for individuals looking for jobs to continuously work on creating a resume that makes them stand out from the crowd. The above guide will significantly help you in creating a resume that will not only help you in standing out but also make a long-lasting impression on your potential employers.