10 Resume “Must-Haves”

10 Resume Must-HavesFor a great resume it’s important to include these 10 factors:

1: A clear focus on a specific role or type of job and how you are well qualified for it.

2: Emphasis on what you most want employers to remember about you – the top reason(s) why they should hire you instead of someone else. What’s your brand, your unique selling proposition?

3: Keywords. Find them by analyzing job postings. The most important keyword is your desired job title. Others are the crucial and/or hard-to-find qualifications for the job, such as an advanced degree or a certain software, process or subject matter.

4: Accomplishments/results/impact. How did you make a difference for your past employers?

5: Good, strong verbs, especially at the beginning of each bullet item in Experience. Here’s a good list.

6: The right format for you. Strategically choose to include the sections that work for you, in the order that works best for you.

The only required sections are Name, Contact Information, Experience. Common additional sections are: Headline, Subheads, Summary, Core Competencies (or Expertise), Skills (or Technical Skills), Education, Awards, Affiliations, Volunteer Experience, Additional Experience, Interests (if relevant).

7: Formatting that works well in Applicant Tracking Systems. An ATS is a system that “reads” resumes (generally only in .doc, .docx, .rtf or .txt formats) and uses the information to fill in a standardized candidate profile. Human resources personnel then do keyword searches through the profiles to find candidates to interview.

ATS’s are easily confused and may jumble or reject your resume if you use any of the following: unusual or expanded fonts, graphics, columns, tables or symbols; unusual section headings, and all-capitals (except for the section headings).

If you want a more eye-catching version that includes these things, okay, but if you’re applying for jobs via websites or email, use your ATS-friendly version. You could attach the fancy version as a .pdf, just for human eyes.

8: Clear, concise writing.

9: Correct punctuation, capitalization, spelling and word usage. You’d be surprised how many errors you may be making. Even professional writers see a lot of red ink when a copyeditor or proofreader has gone over their work. Hire a professional resume writer or copyeditor/proofreader.

10: Smart management of your career timeline. Be strategic in your choices about how far back to go, whether to include months or just years, and what jobs to include or leave out.

Nail all of the above, if you want a strong resume that gives you the best shot at a job interview!