Are you looking to get back into the job market? Thinking about a new career?
The first step in getting a job is, of course, to submit a resume.
While the majority of employers look at resumes when considering potential candidates, most only take less than 11 seconds to look it over.
So you want to make sure you provide clear, concise and relevant information to increase your chances of landing an interview!
If it’s been a while since you’ve written up a resume, or you’re looking to learn how to write a stronger one, here are the steps you should follow:
8 Steps to Writing a Solid Resume
Follow these steps to write a resume and get the job you want:
1. Choose a Format
Depending on the industry or position you are applying to, you need to choose the most appropriate format for your resume.
Chronological. This is the most common resume format and focuses on your work experience by listing your previous positions in reverse chronological order.
Functional. If you have gaps in your work history, you can use a functional resume format by emphasizing your skills and qualifications.
Combination. If you have a lot of experience in a particular industry, you can use a combination resume that lists both your qualifications and skills as well as your work experience.
Pay attention to the position you are applying for to determine which format to use – would a variety of work experiences be beneficial to this job or should you focus on your skills and qualifications?
2. Style Your Resume
In addition to your resume’s format, you also have to consider the design of your resume. Many employers don’t spend a lot of time looking at resumes, so poorly stylized ones may find themselves in the reject pile.
To start, resumes should only be one page long but be careful to stay away from small fonts. While you want the employer to easily your information on one page, you want them to be able to see it clearly.
If you’re fancy with documents and design, you can separate your information into two columns. Just make sure it’s clear and easy to read.
3. Include Your Contact Information
At the top of your resume, you should include your contact information. In most cases, this would be your name, physical address, phone number and email address.
However, if you feel it is suitable for the position you are applying to, you can include a link to your portfolio or LinkedIn account.
4. Write a Short Intro
After your contact information, you should write a brief introduction. There are four ways to do this:
Career Objective. This 2-3 sentence statement provides an overview of your skills and experience. This is best if you are applying to an entry-level position.
Professional Summary. This bulleted statement includes 4-5 past achievements using numbers and statistics.
Qualifications Summary. This is another bullet-point list that states 4-6 of your most outstanding career achievements. Use this summary if you are an industry veteran and have too many accomplishments to fit in your resume.
Professional Profile. This statement combines the career objective intro and qualifications summary.
Remember to keep your introductory statement short, sweet and concise.
5. List Your Work Experience
When you include work experience on your resume, avoiding listing every position you’ve ever held in your lifetime. Instead, start with your most recent and relevant work experience and work backward chronologically.
Tailor the experiences you use to the job you are applying for. Also, try to pick out keywords from the job description to use in this section.
To list your work experience, start with the company name in bold followed by the time you worked there (i.e. Month/Year to Month/Year). Under this, mentioned your job responsibilities.
6. Highlight Your Education
A potential employer doesn’t have to know how successful you were in kindergarten but having an education section will help to display your knowledge-base as well as fill in gaps if you don’t have a lot of work experience.
When you list your education, include the name of the institution you attended, the location, your date of graduation and degree.
If you have a lot of experience and qualifications throughout your resume, you can keep this section short and sweet.
7. Share Your Skills
While having experience and education are great for getting a job, you need to include your skills to give employers a more rounded picture of you.
You should include both soft and hard skills. Hard skills, or technical skills, are those that can be learned through experience and training. Soft skills, or transferable skills, are more personality-based.
Here are some examples:
Hard Skills: computer skills, marketing skills, language, machine operation, research skills, data analysis, project management
Soft Skills: time management, customer service, flexibility, self-discipline, teamwork, communication skills, empathy
To figure out what your hard skills are, look at your training and education. What skills did you have to acquire through learning?
For soft skills, think about your personal strengths and areas of improvement. When in doubt, ask friends and family what they like most about you. This will give you a good starting point.
8. Mention Any Awards or Certifications/Licenses
Now that you have the bulk of your resume set up, you can use awards, certifications and licenses to give it a boost!
Make sure, however, that you only list awards, etc., if they are relevant to the job you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying to be a nurse, mention your nursing license.
If the job requires first aid or a driver’s license, list those as well.
Mentioning awards is beneficial as well since it shows passion and knowledge in whatever industry you are applying for.
Do I Need to Write a Cover Letter?
There are people out there that will tell you not to waste your time on a cover letter while others will insist you need one.
Of course, if a company asks for one in the job description, you should definitely write one up. Likewise, if they specify not to send one, don’t send one.
Otherwise, should you even bother?
Yes, you really should and here’s why:
A cover letter provides you the opportunity to do four things: Formally introduce yourself, explain any work gaps, tie your specific experience to the position and show gratitude to the potential employer.
These are things you cannot do on your resume that make a positive impact on employers.
Make sure to keep your cover letter short, including no more than five paragraphs:
Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself and the position you are applying for.
Paragraph 2: Tie in what you have to offer with the advertised position.
Paragraph 3: Explain any work gaps if you have them.
Paragraph 4: Suggest the next steps, such as following up or having them contact you.
Paragraph 5: Close the letter and thank them for their time.
Include your cover letter with your resume and you are all set to get the job you want!