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6 Rules For Effective Resume Writing

Looking for a new job can be exhausting. Your resume is the primary document that can set you apart from all of the other applicants, and secure the interview you are hoping for. Before you start sending your resume, take some time to make sure your resume is as effective as it can be. Here are some rules to consider:

Rule #1 – Always Be Honest and Accurate

You never want to misrepresent your experience, dates of service, or job titles to a prospective employer. There are many reasons for this. Setting aside the fact that it’s the right thing to do, you don’t want to get into the interview and not be able to competently discuss the expertise you claim on your resume. Dates, titles, and experience all need to be accurate. If an employer finds out that you misrepresented something on your resume or application, this could be grounds for termination of employment. Even if it doesn’t, it can create mistrust - Not a good place to start a new employment relationship.

Rule #2 – Match The Job Description

Keeping the first rule in mind, you should always try to use the same language that is used in the job description. Whether it is a person or a computer system checking your resume, you want to make it easy to identify that you match what they are looking for. If they list out a set of skills that they are looking for, and you can honestly claim those skills, make sure that your resume uses the same wording and places those skills in areas where they will easily be noticed.

Many times, the person reviewing the resume and making initial decisions about who moves forward is not a subject matter expert in the field they are recruiting for. They are looking for specific indicators that the person they are reviewing has the right skill set. You want them to be able to check the boxes easily.

Rule #3 – Always Be Tweaking

It’s a lot of work, but well worth the time. Each job posting uses unique language and expresses somewhat unique skills or experience the company is looking for. It’s easy, once you have put the work in to get a resume you are happy with, to just use the same resume every time. You can cover a lot of ground that way. However, it’s not the most effective way to look for a job. If you want to be serious about increasing your chances of an interview, review the resume and make any necessary changes prior to submitting for each job.

Rule #4 – Review, Review, & Review Again

You don’t want to miss an opportunity based on minor things that could have been prevented (i.e., spelling, grammar, formatting, etc.). Make sure you take the time to review your resume and ensure everything is ready for submission. At times, it’s probably a good idea to get someone else to look at it. Sometimes after you have looked at something for a long period of time, it’s easy to miss things that you would otherwise notice. That is where a second set of eyes can be helpful.

Not all resume reviewers will throw out a resume based on a couple errors, but some may. It’s not worth the risk.

Rule #5 – Give It Some Thought

Many of us are so busy performing our jobs that we don’t ever really stop to think about all that we do, or all of the accomplishments we have achieved. Your experience and accomplishments are unique to you. Take the time to mine all of the gold, and leave nothing behind, when writing your resume. Before you start working on all of the formatting and content of your resume, start listing what you actually have done in your roles. There are probably a lot of things you haven’t even considered.

Here are some examples:

  • What impact did you have on the company (i.e., increased sales, cost savings, new policies/procedrues, increased training/development, retention rates, etc.)?

  • Did you receive any awards or commendations for outstanding performance?

  • Did you complete any major projects?

  • Were you involved in any impactful decisions or policy changes?

  • Were you promoted or given advanced responsibilities?

You want to show your prospective employer that you are a solid contributor and you will bring those things to their team.

Rule #6 – Avoid Lengthy, Irrelevant Information

Resumes are not the most interesting thing to read in the first place. One mistake people make is essentially copying and pasting their actual job description under each position on their resume. Most of the time, job descriptions are full of unintelligible sentences and irrelevant information. It’s good to capture the essence of your job duties and make sure the reader understands what you have actually done, but try to keep it as concise and relevant as possible.

Sometimes people also list a lot of irrelevant activities they are involved in. There are activities outside of work that could be relevant to your resume. However, if you have established work experience to outline, things like high school sports awards are probably no longer relevant.

Other Information

Resume development is a pretty comprehensive topic. This article is not meant to be exhaustive and does not cover all aspects of developing an effective resume. For instance, this article did not touch on issues of formatting. There is a lot of information available about effective formatting for a resume, and the formatting you choose may depend on whether you are submitting a resume through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or sending it to an individual.

Renewal Talent Solutions provides resume writing and other career related services. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out and we can discuss options.


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