Work experience, skills list, a professional title – you’ve got all the basics down, but it still feels like your resume is missing something. But, if you have all the usual things in place, what could it possibly be?
A resume requires more than just the basics to truly get the attention of the hiring manager. Here are five things that should be woven throughout all of the sections you already have on your resume:
1. A Clear Focus
You may have had a variety of jobs in the past, but all of the prior experience you put on your resume should add up to one focus. Your resume’s focus should align with whatever your career goals are, or, at the very least, whatever kinds of jobs you’re currently applying to. Even if you have no experience in the field you’re aiming for, highlight the hard skills you possess and the tasks you did at prior jobs that point to reasons you would be successful in that industry. Make it clear that you’re determined to succeed in this field, and that you’ve been working towards it all the while. This also means leaving out irrelevant and outdated experience that has nothing in common with the jobs you’re applying to.
2. Hard Skills
When you construct the list of skills on your resume, eliminate soft skills completely. Most resumes are populated with soft skills and it winds up looking like filler. Hard skills, on the other hand, are necessities at certain jobs and require evidence to back them up. Focusing on your hard skills shows a hiring manager experience you have that other applicants may lack – yes, they’ve done social media marketing before, but have they ever used Hootsuite or Canva? The more specific you can be in naming particular skills, the better – for example, it’s more impressive to specify which Adobe programs you’re familiar with than to vaguely say “graphic design”.
It’s easy to just lie about what skills you have on a resume, which is why describing results is superior to listing your skills. Detailing your successes on your resume shows that not only do you actually possess your skills, but they’ve gotten results for other companies before. Incorporate results into as much of your work experience as you can. For example, highlight some key metrics: instead of saying that you ran the Instagram account for one of your prior jobs, state how many followers your content got the account, the amount of time garnering these followers took, how many conversions your content led to, and so on.
Look at job postings in the industry to help inform how your resume is written. Keep keywords that always pop up in mind and scatter them throughout your skills and work experience. This shows hiring managers that you have a thorough understanding of the industry and that you pay close attention to what jobs in your chosen field actually require. It’s also more than likely that whatever job postings you’re responding to will use a handful of these common keywords, too, so it’ll look as though you’ve tailored your resume around their posting specifically – that’s always a good sign to an employer.
5. The Ability to Skim
Hiring managers generally give each resume they look at a quick few-second glance before deciding if they actually want to read it. This means that you have to make your resume an easy skim. Use a clean layout and don’t overload it with information, keep it concise and focused around successes and highlights. The shorter your resume is, the more information your potential employer will be able to take in at a quick glance. When describing results, type out the actual numbers instead of writing them (e.g. you gained a company 15% more followers, not “fifteen percent”) so that your success jumps off the page and doesn’t get lost in the words. You can also bold these things, too, to help them further stand out.
Get the basics of your resume down and then double-check these five must-haves are in place, too. This list will make your resume look cleaner and more focused while also helping you to showcase your skills in your field more than before.
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Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
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