In 2021, antiquated as it may seem, employers and recruiters still ask for your résumé (afterward, they’ll visit your LinkedIn profile and check your digital footprint). I don’t foresee this changing anytime soon.
Your résumé is your primary marketing tool. It presents a concise summary of your experience, skills, knowledge, credentials, and education. Envision your résumé as a brochure selling what you’re able to offer employers.
It’s no secret it’s raining résumés these days; therefore, your résumé needs to be competitive. It needs to clearly show how you created value for your employers, not that you just put in clocked time.
Your résumé will solicit one of 3 responses:
(If you haven’t guessed, you’re aiming for WOW!)
There are 4 cardinal rules to follow to create a résumé that WOWs:
When I read a résumé, I look for answers to the following questions:
Avoid the Predictable
Of the thousands of résumés I’ve read, the majority are simply a list of opinions. The predictable buzzwords like “fast learner,” “detail-oriented,” or the infamous “team player” appear on almost every résumé. Rare is the résumé that quantifies. If you can’t quantify, then it’s an opinion.
Hard truth: Employers don’t care about your opinion; they care about the results you can achieve.
Just because you claim to be XYZ does not mean you are XYZ. Prove it undeniably (i.e., “Exceeded quarterly sales targets” vs. “For the past 14 quarters, exceeded sales targets by $25,000 to $45,000.”)
Businesses revolve around numbers, and so should your résumé. Keep this in mind when interviewing.
Don't Aim to Impress with Formatting
But remember, there is no such thing as a “killer résumé.” Don’t sweat your résumé’s format, or whether it’s in reverse chronological or functional. Focus on telling a great ongoing career story, quantifying your accomplishments, having no grammatical errors or typos, and keeping it to 2 pages (MAXIMUM!)
Your goal, the reason you want your résumé to WOW, is to make the reader say to themselves, I must meet this person!
When it comes to your résumé’s format, design it for skimmability. With a quick scan, the reader should grasp your expertise and have a solid understanding of your core skills, accomplishments (I repeat: quantified), and career direction. Since the reader’s eyes naturally return to the left margin once it’s ready to move on to the next line of text, don’t center your text. Align your text to the left – even your section headings. This significantly improves readability. Don’t “justify” your text to fill all the white space. This setting leaves uneven gaps between words making the text harder to read.
You don’t earn points for creativity. All points are earned via your content. Creative résumés aren’t more effective than a 2-page résumé that WOWs. Most employers find “creativity” frustrating. As well, assuming your résumé will be passing through an ATS, a résumé with bells and whistles can’t be read by the AI and therefore will be discarded. Save your creativity for your portfolio.
One last word on your résumé’s format: have generous margins. Résumés with text crammed edge to edge look messy and unprofessional. Bottom and top margins should be no less than 0.5″, your side margins no less than 0.75″.
The Important Details to Include
The primary contents to include in your résumé:
I realize constructing a résumé that fits within the confines of 2 pages is hard to do, but I’ve definitely seen it done. And they certainly know how to WOW the reader by being clear, concise, and eager to show quantifiable results.