How to Stand Out with a Clear and Concise Resume

Jul 15, 2020 | Career Development, Organization, Resources

by Jaclyn Baldovin, Radiant Digital Solutions

No matter how long you have been with your company, there is no such thing as total job security. Your executive may retire or move on to a different organization and be unable to take you along. Management may move in a direction that is at odds with your plans. Unforeseen circumstances, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, could threaten your position.

Every career has its ups and downs, and nothing is ever guaranteed. So keeping your resume up to date is critical, even if you plan to stay in your position long-term. It needs to be ready at a moment’s notice so you can act as quickly as possible when the need arises.

The following tips will help you craft a ready-to-use resume that will impress any hiring manager!

Content Matters

According to Glassdoor, the average hiring manager only spends about six seconds on each resume. This means it’s absolutely crucial to create a clear, concise, easy-to-scan resume that will help you stand out to potential employers. Here are some best practices.

  • Include a link to your LinkedIn profile in the contact information at the top of your resume.
  • Start your resume with a summary statement instead of an objective. An objective describes to the employer what you want, while a summary statement describes the value you can bring to the organization. Hiring managers want to know what you can do for them.
  • Don’t just list your responsibilities at past jobs; make sure you’re highlighting your accomplishments and successes as well.
  • Quantify your experience and accomplishments with numbers whenever possible. Statements like “increased sales by 25%” or “reduced office supply spend by $500 a quarter” are much more powerful.
  • List your job experience from most recent to least recent. Salary.com suggests going back 10 to 15 years and possibly dividing your work history into “recent” and “relevant”, depending on the position you’re applying for.
  • It’s not necessary to include obvious skills, such as using the internet or typing.
  • Consider including relevant volunteer experience.
  • Unless you’re a recent college graduate, it’s not necessary to include your graduation dates with your education. The name of the school and your field of study, if relevant, are generally enough.
  • Tailor your resume to the specific position you’re applying for. Consider excluding some of your past experience if it isn’t applicable to the job. Recruiters and employers want to see clear and concise resumes with experience and skills relevant to the position.

The Importance of Proper Formatting

Having a properly formatted resume is an important step in creating an effective document. It helps busy potential employers skim through your resume (remember, you may have as little as six seconds worth of attention!) and easily determine if you have the skills to do the job well. These best practices will help you get your resume properly formatted:

  • If your resume is more than one page, use a similar heading on both pages. This is helpful in case the pages get separated.
  • Be consistent with font and font sizes throughout your entire resume. Even the smallest details matter.
  • Include white space and bullet points to ensure your resume is uncluttered and easy to read.

Keep Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) in Mind

Many organizations now utilize an applicant tracking system (ATS) to prescreen resumes before they ever reach a hiring manager’s desk. Implement these tips to ensure the ATS is able to pull the information it’s looking for.

  • Submit your resume as a PDF. Not every ATS can read .doc, .docx, or .pages format.
  • Avoid using text boxes, tables, and graphics, since an ATS is typically unable to read these.
  • Use keywords for skills throughout your resume, paying special attention to those that are in the job description. Not only will this help an ATS read your resume more easily, but it will also help the potential employer quickly scan your resume once it reaches the human review stage.
  • Always, always, always proofread your resume and have at least one other person proof it, as well.

Is It Necessary to Limit Your Resume to a Single Page?

This is an important question on many professionals’ minds as they’re putting together their resume: Should I cap my resume at one page? Here’s some information to help you determine the answer for your specific situation.

  • A one-page resume with relevant information is better than a two-page resume with a lot of “fluff.”
  • Never include unnecessary information to add more length to your resume.
  • A two-page resume is fine as long as the experience you’re including is important and relevant to the job you’re applying for. Employers would rather read a two-page resume that is easy to skim and well laid out than a one-page resume with a lot of information crammed in. A two-page resume makes sense for professionals with 10+ years of experience.

Resume Resources

Are you looking for more resources to get your resume updated? Here are several great ones to get you started:

Whether you’re suddenly offered your dream job, looking for a promotion or new position, or laid off from your current role, an up-to-date resume is essential to ensure you don’t need to rush, scramble, or cut corners in the moment. Taking the time to update your resume now, before you need it, is one of the best things you can do for your future!

© 2020 Julie Perrine International, LLC

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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures. 

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