As a former recruiter and professional resume reviewer, I’ve seen the gamut of how many different ways a resume can be written. The good, the bad, the wordy, the ambiguous, and the ineffective. With all the misinformation out there and with EVERYONE having an opinion on what makes a resume “POP”, it’s no wonder someone can be left scratching their head with their resume no better off then where they started. Opinions like: “Add a picture, it humanizes you to the hiring manager”, “Keep your resume to one page or it goes straight in the trash”, and “Organize your resume by skill set, not chronologically” are all examples of confusing, and sometimes conflicting opinions. While format is important, content is king, which is what we’ll be focusing on in this post.

One of the most important things to remember when starting off on your resume writing journey is that it is no one else’s resume but yours! YOU will be the one held accountable for what is on that paper, not your Mom’s friend’s daughter who suggested you use comic sans to “set yourself apart”. What follows in this post are the 3 most common pieces of advice I give to candidates when re-doing their resumes, but ultimately, make your resume accurately reflect who you are as a professional. Let’s get started!

  1. Quantify, Quantify, Quantify. Hiring Managers don’t want to see your job responsibilities. They want to see your contributions. Something like, “Automated reporting for A/R” is a good foundation, but a hiring manager would much rather see “Automated reporting for A/R resulting in a 30% decrease in time-to-pay for invoices and over $100k in overdue payments.” Don’t ask yourself what you did, but instead ask how what you did affected the business or team.
  2. Put things in business terms. I see way too many candidates sell themselves short because they didn’t put a bullet point in terms that is relevant to a business. You didn’t just “talk with the business to see what they needed”. You “gathered business requirements from company stakeholders to establish as-is, to-be business processes”. You didn’t just “make a project plan”, you “established a project roadmap”. You get the picture. When in doubt or if you have writer’s block, don’t be afraid to use the job descriptions own vernacular to help you phrase things out. *Caution* – if you write it down, prepare to discuss it. Stay within truthful boundaries when rephrasing.
  3. Add buzzwords/keywords wherever you can! Not every resume goes directly to a hiring manager and not every screener can read between the lines. Someone who looks at your resume should be able to clearly identify what tech stack you utilized, what specific technologies you’ve developed in or leveraged, and how big/complex each environment was. If you utilized cloud technology, specify and put Azure or AWS so someone who is non-technical can see that it matches the job description. Some companies will even utilize a program to scan for a keyword match BEFORE a human even lays eyes on it. If you don’t reach a certain percentage match, your resume gets deleted!

Remember that your resume should be a reflection of YOU, not a frankenstein creation of contradicting opinions and downright silly suggestions. Wherever you are in your career, hopefully, these 3 guiding principles will help block out all the noise and keep you on a steady course toward resume nirvana. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and any future content you’d like to see. Let us know what you think in the comments below!