1. Pinpoint What Your Dream Job is The first step to moving towards your dream job is to identify what your dream job actually is and why. It sounds obvious to say, but Simon Royston,...
Resume Writing FAQs
Why use a resume example when putting together your own resume
When you’re applying for jobs, you’re probably in one of two camps. You might be working and applying at the same time, which means you’re very short on time. Or, you’re applying without a job in which case you probably need to get hired ASAP.
In either case, you need to simplify the process of creating a great resume any way you can. Starting off by carefully reviewing proven resume examples from your specific industry is one of the most effective ways to do that.
It’s like trying to build a car without being allowed to look at one. Sure, you’ve seen cars before, but being able to compare what you’re doing to the best designs out there is going to give you far better results. Plus, when you can see how your resume compares to top-quality examples, you can go into the job searching process with more confidence.
How using a resume example can help you with the job search
Creating an effective resume is about getting all the details right. But even for seasoned resume experts, it’s easy to forget something. After all, you might think resumes haven’t changed much, but the onset of powerful and user-friendly resume builders means the resumes you’re competing against probably look very different than they would have just a few years ago.
But using resume examples is also about perspective. One of the fundamental mistakes most job applicants make is not thinking about the audience for their resume. This isn’t your prospective employer, it’s the hiring manager who works for them. You need to always be thinking about that hiring manager.
For example, if you’re an American looking to get hired in the UK, you should study the expectations of resumes (or CVs) there. What’s more, tailoring your resume to the hiring manager is about ensuring it matches the job description and that it’s easy to read.
Using resume examples, however, makes it easy. By imagining you’re a hiring manager and analyzing examples, you can get a feel for what makes a resume more effective in your industry. Then, you can implement those lessons on your own resume.
How do you write a resume in 2020 using resume examples?
The first step of this process is finding good examples. A simple Google search will show that the internet is full of resume examples for every conceivable job. However, not all of them are created equal. You want to avoid poor quality examples thrown together without care or auto-generated by an algorithm.
So how do you tell which examples are worth your time?
What makes a good resume example?
There are a few telltale signs of a quality resume example. The first place to look is the site where you found it. If it’s specifically focused on your industry and includes resume examples and tips for getting hired, you’re likely to find good examples by people familiar with what hiring managers will look for within your position.
If you’re evaluating a site with resume examples for multiple industries, look for hints that they’ve been created by people who understand your industry. Do their examples misuse jargon? Do the skills, accomplishments, and experience in the resume make sense? Are there unique elements that make them stand out?
As you review more resume examples, you’ll also start to develop your own sense of what makes them effective. All that said, it’s actually still worth seeing a few bad examples to understand what your resume should avoid.
How to gather relevant information from examples
Start with your first impression. One of the most important missions your resume will have is creating a strong first impression in the mind of a hiring manager. So which element of the resume example stands out? What is the first thing you read? After you’ve read that first section, what do you think about the candidate?
Then, as you read the resume, what questions do you have? For example, if you mention you have experience coding in a specific programming language but don’t give any more details, the reader might wonder “what kind of experience? What did you create with that language?” If that question is answered at the end of your resume, the entire time they’re reading your resume they will have that nagging question in their mind.
These are the kinds of questions you want to anticipate and get ahead of. If the reader finds that everything in your resume is clear and the questions they have are quickly and efficiently answered, you’ll look fantastic as a candidate.
As you review more resume examples and read through skills and work experience within those, you’ll get a better feel for how a resume can handle these questions.
How to apply that information to your own resume?
As mentioned, while you’re reviewing resume examples you’ll want to take notes about what you like, don’t like, and what stands out. This can serve as the starting point when you’re writing your own resume.
However, you shouldn’t stop there. It’s best to pause a few times while working on your resume and look back at that list. Are you falling into some of the traps you found in other resume examples? This is when you should try and look at your resume from the perspective of a hiring manager.
Of course, that’s not always easy to do, so consider getting a trusted friend or colleague to help you out. They can review some relevant resume examples as well before helping you evaluate yours. You can also provide them with your list of “dos and don’ts” and ask them whether you nailed them all on your resume.
4. How do I personalize an example to make an impressive resume?
As we mentioned above, personalizing is perhaps the single best way to boost your chances of getting hired with your resume. But it’s also easier said than done. How you personalize your resume makes a big difference. But first, why should you bother taking the extra time?
When a resume is tailored for a specific position, this tells the hiring manager and employer several key things. The first is simply that you took the time to do the job right. Instead of cutting corners by sending out identical resumes, you put in the extra effort. This communicates a tremendous amount about you as a person and a candidate. Next, it simply tells them you have the skills and experience they need, which is the main goal of your resume anyways.
Ultimately, a resume is all about communicating information. Mostly that’s done by listing facts, but we all know that actions speak louder than words. By personalizing your resume, you’re communicating what kind of candidate you are through your actions. Considering how few applicants overall do this, you’ll stand out and be far more memorable to that hiring manager who’s reviewed 70 resumes this week.
How to personalize it for every job and why that’s important
The single easiest way to personalize your resume for a job is to start by researching the employer and the position. Ultimately, you’re being hired to solve some set of problems. If you can identify skills and experience the role calls for to solve those problems, you’ll be able to show why you’re a great candidate for the job.
The first way to do this is to carefully read the job description. Read between the lines and ask yourself “what would the perfect candidate for this position look like?” Also list all of the specific skills, accomplishments, and qualifications mentioned in the job description that are relevant to your own experience and background.
At this point, you can try to take your resume personalization to the next level by researching the employer themselves. Look into what challenges they’re facing and how you can help address them. If your resume can frame you as someone who can help solve a major problem at a prospective employer, you’ll stand out.
5. How to get your resume past ATS?
Putting hours of work into a personalized resume without thinking about an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a recipe for disaster. These tools are used by 98% of Fortune 500 companies and are increasingly common even in smaller companies. The point being, unless you’re 100% certain that the employer you’re applying to doesn’t use an ATS, you need to assume that they do.
What is ATS?
At the most basic level, an ATS is a program that uses artificial intelligence (specifically natural language processing) to analyze large numbers of resumes far faster than a human could. They are given a set of criteria to look for and if a resume meets enough of them, it’s forwarded along to a hiring manager for manual review.
For companies, this is a massive time saver. They can do more with fewer hiring managers and hire candidates faster. The problem is that these benefits can act as roadblocks to a jobseeker if applicants don’t understand how to best create a resume to get past an ATS.
Why is it important to get past an ATS?
Seventy-five percent of resumes don’t make it past an ATS. This single fact tells you that if you can be in the 25% that do get through to a hiring manager, you’ve vastly increased your chances of getting hired. If an ATS worked perfectly and only resumes meeting the qualifications made it through, this wouldn’t matter, but that’s far from the truth.
This shocking reality is why so many resumes get rejected. Often it’s not because the candidates simply didn’t meet the employer’s criteria, but rather because of an error.
These errors come in a few forms. The first is that the file submitted isn’t a type the ATS can read. But more often, the issue lays with how the data is structured within the file. Charts, columns, images, and all kinds of non-standard formatting can confuse an ATS and lead to them having a hard time understanding the content of your resume. In most cases, this leads to automatic rejection.
What does an ATS look for?
This is the key question you need to be asking yourself. Fortunately, you’ve got a pretty good guide at your fingertips - the job description. We mentioned above that you should carefully study the job description and list all of the skills, accomplishments, work experience, etc. that it asks for in a candidate that also aligns with your own profile.
Armed with that list, your mission is to try and ensure as many of those elements are on your resume as possible (without lying of course). One tip is to make sure you try and use the same wording as the job description. After all, an ATS might not realize that what you’ve written means the same thing as what it’s looking for. By using exact wording, you’re making it as likely as possible the ATS will recognize you have the qualities it’s looking for.
How to get your resume past ATS?
Ensuring your resume gets past an ATS comes down to combining all of the tips we’ve given in this section into a single plan. Let’s break it down into 3 easy steps.
- Use the right file format. In almost all cases, ATS tools are designed to read .pdf, .doc, and .docx files. So be sure to use one of these and avoid things like image files.
- Use a resume builder that has been designed for an ATS. As mentioned, even if you do submit the right file type, it’s possible that the way the data is structured within the file can lead to problems. The best way to avoid this problem is to use a purpose-built resume builder that produces ATS-optimized files.
- Use a smart keyword strategy. If you identify the skills, work experience, etc. the ATS is looking for and ensure your resume has those elements and uses the same wording as the job description, you’ll be way ahead of the competition.
6. What is the best resume format?
If the mission of your resume is to convey information, the order you structure that information matters a lot. Whether you’re talking about a movie or a first date, giving information in the wrong order can create a lot of confusion and bad first impressions. So, you’ll want to choose the right format for your needs. Here’s a breakdown to help you choose:
This format is the most common and it matches what most hiring managers are looking for. In this case, you prioritize your work experience, beginning with your most recent experience and ending with your oldest experience. Unless you have a specific reason to use another format (for example, you have no work experience), this should be your default choice.
A functional resume format focuses on emphasizing skills and abilities over presenting your work history in order. Often, this will be used by job applicants who are looking to draw attention away from their work history and focus it on their skills, either because they don’t have much work experience or are changing careers and would rather emphasize their transferable skills. However, many recruiters find functional resumes frustrating, meaning they aren’t an ideal choice in most cases.
Combination (AKA Hybrid)
In some cases, you may want to combine formats. For example, you may list your work history in reverse-chronological order while also breaking down your skills with a functional section. This allows you to give the hiring manager options for how they want to review your work experience and skills, but it does also take more space.
Generally, combination resumes are the better choice if you have years of experience and want a structured way to equally emphasize both your skills and your history in different positions.
How long should a resume be?
The internet is full of advice on resume length. Some experts will say it should always be one page, while others will insist that you should create one page for every 10 years of experience you have.
It’s important to remember that the people reviewing your resume are pressed for time, so you want to communicate the most relevant information as concisely as possible. That said, a hiring manager would generally prefer a 2-page resume of relevant information rather than a shorter page full of irrelevant information.
7. Additional tools that can help you with resume creation
In addition to the examples on this page, there are a few other tools that make creating a resume easier and more efficient. One is a trusted friend or colleague to give you honest feedback. It can be extremely difficult to get outside of your own head and evaluate the resumes you create without bias. That’s why getting an outside perspective is so valuable. A list of useful action verbs can also help you ensure you sound like an active and dynamic candidate.
The next tool you need is a resume builder. With ATS tools so common, you simply can’t afford to take the chance that your resume will get rejected because of some technical issue. Using the right resume builder lets you have confidence you’ll be ready for an ATS.
In addition, a great resume builder should give you access to clean and modern design. In a sea of dull Word docs, a resume which uses design to enhance the content will always stand out. Lastly, you need a resume builder to avoid all the formatting headaches which come with trying to get the columns and alignments just right when creating a resume manually. A great builder makes the whole process of creating multiple personalized resumes for different employers easy, saving you time and hassle.
If you can use that saved time to further improve your resume content, you’ll be even more likely to get the job you want.