If you are looking to improve your Resume to get you through the first round of the hiring process and increase your chances of getting hired, you are in the right place!
Here at Motivated Entrepreneurship, we are all about empowering the next generation of independent businesses. However, sometimes the starting point of entrepreneurship lies in employment, to build the relevant capital and experience for growing your side hustle into a successful business.
Whether you are looking for your first job, doing volunteer work, an internship, or you are an experienced worker, it is vital to update your resume to a format that is current to give you the best chance at landing an interview.
In this article, we have tips from selected coaching blogs and YouTubers, compiled into a fundamental guide to help you improve your resume, without the need to scour the internet.
Here we aim to give a summary of the vital information you need. Make sure you follow the links to access the full article in each section for more detailed explanations from these content creators and to take advantage of the other helpful content and resources they have available.
Some insights before we begin…
Before we get into it, let’s take a moment to consider the perspective of the HR or hiring manager for a moment. Job posts can often receive hundreds of applications. If the majority of these applicants have used the same generic sources to compile their resume, the recruiter will be drowned in a sea of standardized soft skill jargon like ‘hardworking, competent, punctual, flexible, good teamwork skills, excellent communication skills, etc.’
Although important, it is vital to correlate these skills with those the employer is looking for and the impact that our skills have had on provision of goods and/or services for previous employers.
Short of this, your resume looks like a zebra in the herd, indistinguishable from the rest. If you follow the tips and pointers we have compiled here, you should be able to transform your resume, to ‘shine bright like a diamond’ and get you shortlisted for the next stage of the hiring process. Let’s get started!
What To Include and Arrangement of Sections:
Robert Henderson, a resume expert, in an article for Jobscan articulates that the hiring managers commonly scan resumes for a mere 7.4 seconds, this means that it is imperative to have a resume that is easy to scan through. As a result you have to construct a resume that represents you and what you have to offer to the employer. Use this guide to ensure you have formatting that is clear, concise, and easy to read.
It is essential to tailor your resume using the keywords that appear in the job description for each job you are applying for. Lastly it is inherent to improve your resume by checking to make sure it is free of typos or grammatical errors.
Personal Information/ Contact Information-
This section should be at the top to prominently display how best the recruiter can get in touch with you. Include your full name and any academic or professional titles, contact information including your primary contact number and a professional email address, address with town/city, state and zip code if applicable. You may want to include a LinkedIn profile link and in the case of those working in the arts or a professional creative, a link to your portfolio.
This section should be at the top directly under your contact information. This section should give an overview of you professionally with marked metrics (quantify skills to exemplify how well you work) and why they should consider you for the post.
Robert Henderson goes on to say that after your contact information and professional summary you may arrange the subsequent sections according to which will have the most impact on the recruiter and portray you in the best possible light.
This section should be in reverse chronological order. The listing of work experience should include the Employer name, Employer location, your job title as well as the start and end dates (month and year). The best formatting for this section is to have bullet points with quantifiable achievements or metrics.
We will cover how to best add quantifiable achievements or metrics in a later section.
Skills/ Skill Highlights-
With work experience in a similar role to the one you are applying for, you may want to arrange the skills section under your work experience. Whereas, if you don’t have relevant work experience you can put your skills before your work experience section.
You should include both hard and soft skills that you have that are both related to the position you are applying for and match the requirements of the candidate profile (provided in the job post) that the company is seeking to hire. Do not include skills that are not relevant to the position you are applying for. Make sure to review your resume at intervals to keep your skills up-to-date.
If your education section will be more impactful than your work experience, you should arrange it above the work experience section. Usually this is the case for candidates looking for work with no previous work experience such as pre- or post-graduate interns or candidates who immediately pursued a post graduate degree after completion of their undergraduate degree.
This section should be listed in reverse chronological order including the name and location of the academic institution, name of the qualification (degree/diploma/certificate) and year of completion.
According to an article by Hanne Keiling for indeed.com, titled ‘Q&A: Should You Include References on a Resume?’, it is not common practice to include references on your resume any more. The general perception regarding inclusion of resume references is if it is specified as necessary in the job post. Resume best practice is to use that space to add more detail to other important sections. You can provide the reference details later on in the hiring process should the employer request them.
Other sections to add when you have limited work experience-
Also you can include awards, honors, certifications and/or volunteer work. In the case of interns and entry level candidates who don’t have any previous work experience you may include hobbies. Just ensure these are relevant to the job you are applying for.
Make sure to exclude unnecessary information that can bulk up your resume. Especially information that is not pertinent to the application such as marital status and full home and/or postal address. Take time to identify and remove any irrelevant information or out-dated experience.
What to include to improve your resume with no previous work experience?
An article posted on resume.com titled ‘Best Things to Put on a Resume When You Have No Experience’ states that with no work experience, your professional summary should include one or two adjectives to describe your work ethic, level of education, relevant skills and professional passions or interests tailored to the job you are applying for.
Your skills section should focus mostly on soft skills relevant to the role that you are applying for. You should include these even if you have not used them in a professional capacity.
You can also list any classes, training or certifications you have. With these include a brief description to describe its relevance for your application. You may also list any relevant personal or academic projects.
With no previous work experience you should have your education section under your professional summary above your skills section.
Formatting Essentials You Should Know and Apply to Your Resume:
Length of resume-
The prescribed length of an ideal resume for candidates with 10 years’ experience or less is 1 page, according to an article on indeed.com. Longer resume lengths (over 1 page) may be acceptable for higher level candidates e.g. executives with longer experience.
In order to keep your resume concise, indeed.com recommends improving your resume by summarizing the content. you can do this by:
- avoiding filler words,
- removing irrelevant work experience,
- removing unnecessary information (unnecessary education, first jobs, internship details for more experienced candidates.)
Additionally, Andrei Kurtuy’s article for Novoresume concerning resume length states that for students who commonly have almost no work experience, 1 page is more than adequate.
It states that the “focus should be on your best and most outstanding qualifications, academic achievements and fields of study relevant to the role you are applying for.” – Quote
Formatting to allow readability by Artificial Intelligence (A.I) software-
Nowadays, with the upscale in A.I technology, it is increasingly commonplace with more and more companies hiring, to have the initial screening process being conducted by A.I.
According to an article by Rebecca Picciotto for cnbc.com, resume mistakes can result in your resume being filtered or sifted out of the application pool before even being seen by a real person. A summary of the formatting issues that affect A.I is: non-standard formats are confusing to the A.I.
Some formatting that may confuse A.I and get your resume sifted out include:
- page color,
- unstandardized fonts (use those commonly found in Microsoft and Google Docs),
- hyperlinks (these should be separate or at the end of sentences),
- inconsistent formatting for titles, dates and descriptions.
How to incorporate measurable metrics in your work experience section
Jeff Su, a popular YouTuber in a vlog titled, “5 Resume Mistakes You MUST Avoid (with real examples)!” states that a common resume mistake is not showing impact. Quantifiable metrics help to communicate what you have accomplished. He states that a pro- tip to quantify your achievements is to continue asking ‘so what?’ to drive the impact of your work experience. As an example he uses his SAT tutoring experience as an example:
“Taught SAT during my summer break in college”, so what?
“the average increase in my students SAT scores was 280 points”, so what?
“7 out of the 8 seniors got accepted into their first choice colleges”, impact.
In another vlog titled ‘Write an Incredible Resume: 5 Golden Rules!’ where he reviewed data analytics by Austin Belcak, he articulated that measurable metrics improve resume outcomes. But only 26% of resumes included 5 or more metrics with 36% of resumes not having a single measurable metric. A simple bullet point structure he said to use is:
“Action verb + Task description + Result with quantifiable metric.”
“Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y], by doing [Z].”
The example Jeff Su constructed using the aforementioned bullet point structure was in the case of a content marketing manager:
“Drove 2500 organic sign-ups to our monthly newsletter by A/B testing content layout and collaborating with co-marketing partners, representing a 43% quarter on quarter increase.” – Quote
Now that you have an idea about what to include to improve your resume…
Use a resume builder or template to help you cut down on editing time.
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