You’ve been job hunting for a while now. Maybe your old employer still hasn’t fully recovered from that initial round of post-pandemic cuts. Maybe you were miserable at your previous company and are looking for a clean start.
And suddenly, while you’re browsing through your local listings, you find the job description that makes you stop scrolling and say, “If I could land this position, my life would be complete”. But in order to go from “I want a job.” to “I have the job I’ve always dreamed of!”, you know that you need to submit the best job resume you’ve ever written.
Your bank account is feeling the pinch. You literally can’t afford to send a stinker of a resume.
So how can you write the kind of resume that will have employers tripping over themselves to hire you? How can you leapfrog your way to candidate shortlists and win jobs simply by not embarrassing yourself during the interview?
Read on to learn how you can give yourself more career options by becoming the best resume writer you know.
What Makes a Resume Awesome?
Before we start getting into the nitty-gritty of writing top-notch resumes, it’s important to lay out the ground rules. While the essence of a winning resume will differ from industry to industry, here are some of the qualities that most job-winning resumes typically have in common:
1. They’re Concise
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who made you want to scream, “Get to the point already!”? When you’re hunting for work, you don’t want the hiring manager to be reading your resume and struggling to keep their eyes open.
Employers are constantly looking at tons of resumes. If it takes you 30 pages to say, “I read and reviewed reports for Company X.”, the resume reviewer might quit reading at page 6 even if you are the perfect person for the job. For these reasons and more, the best resumes are typically around two or three pages long.
2. They Talk up Your Achievements
When it comes to the 1998 Chicago Bulls, nobody who knows anything about basketball would forget how important Michael Jordan was to the success of the team. But when it comes to detailing projects they’ve worked on and things they’ve accomplished, job hunters often forget to hype themselves up on their resumes.
Your resume is your chance to say, “I am amazing and you would be nuts not to hire me!”. The strongest resumes are the ones that highlight your strengths.
3. They Use Action Verbs and Strong Language
Every business wants to believe that it’s filling every position with go-getters. As such, you don’t want your resume to make you sound like a bystander in your own career.
How do you signal that you’re a dynamo with personal agency for days? You use strong and clear language. Or, as many writers would say, you try to write in active voice as much as possible.
What this means is that if you accomplished something amazing during a past project, you’ll want to express that by saying “I did X.” or “I accomplished that.”. Your hiring manager will appreciate it and your writing will sound more clear and confident. Talk about a win-win!
How to Sell Employers on You
Okay. If you’ve been googling around for advice on writing your resume, chances are that you’ve already seen people describing your resume as a selling document. But sometimes drilling your resume down to two pages and running your document through Grammarly just isn’t enough to elevate you from “Nice resume.” to “We have to interview this person!”.
Here are some of our top tips on submitting resumes that employers practically have no choice but to answer:
1. Mirror the Job Description
In psychology, there’s a concept called mirroring. We’re not trying to get too technical here, but it’s basically a term that’s used to describe how people are able to establish bonds and build rapport by copying each other.
When you’re putting words to paper, you don’t have the ability to watch people’s body language and shift your positioning to make people feel comfortable. But you can create a similar effect simply by reading the job description and tweaking your resume to match what the employer is looking for.
Of course, you don’t want to do this word for word. But if the job opening talks a lot about how much they want to hire a job applicant with an eye for detail, you can write about all the ways that your caution and attentiveness put you over the top in previous job scenarios. If you do this well, you’ll have potential employers reading your resume and thinking, “This is exactly the person I’ve been looking for!”.
2. Don’t Over-Complicate Your Formatting
Sometimes job seekers are so eager to get attention from future employers that they quickly start thinking things like, “If I attach candy to my resume, surely they’ll remember me.” Or “What if I print out this resume in hot pink while using yellow letters and glitter?”.
Although these ideas might seem interesting in a vacuum, you really, really don’t want to get too fancy with your resume format. Remember what we said before about how HR managers and hiring committees are often reviewing hundreds of applications for positions?
Submitting a resume that’s difficult to read makes them less likely to finish reviewing your application. It might be boring, but you’ll want to stick to standard fonts like Arial or Times New Roman while using standardized spacing and margins. You want to dazzle them with your experience and your personality — not your impossibly hard-to-read resume.
3. Spoonfeed Your Hiring Manager
If the reign of shows like CSI and Law and Order has proven anything, it’s that people love a good puzzle. However, all of that True Crime and whodunit excitement doesn’t apply when you’re talking about people who don’t have a lot of time on their hands.
You don’t want your resume to be like a Sherlock Holmes mystery that requires hiring managers to sit down and visualize how best to include you in their organization. You want your resume to clearly explain how you can help the company make more money or run more efficiently. Make the breadcrumbs so easy to follow that the trail leads to your phone.
Overcoming the Experience Gap
Sometimes you find jobs on Gigzio and find that while you totally could do incredible work in that position, you’re missing one or two qualities that the company is looking for. Or worse yet – you might not have any experience because you’re jumping into a new career altogether.
With certain types of careers, like Law or Medicine, you’re out of luck unless you can meet the minimum requirements. But when you’re hunting for jobs in skill-driven areas like marketing or copywriting, you may have a better shot than you think. Here’s how you can write a compelling resume even if you have no direct experience at all:
1. You Can Discuss Job-Adjacent Work You’ve Done
Maybe you’ve never held a managerial position before. But perhaps you trained new hires, managed projects, and lent your expertise to other departments in your previous position.
At the end of the day, the question that hiring managers are looking to answer is simple:
Do you have the skills needed to do the job?
Even if you don’t have the ability to say, “I had this exact job title at Company X.”, you may be able to frame your resume in a way that lets people know that you’ve got what it takes to land this position and crush it.
2. Grab All the Numbers You Can
When you’re trying to demonstrate that you’ve got the skills needed to work in an industry you’ve never been involved with before, it helps to get as specific as possible. Here’s why:
If you’ve got two candidates and one says, “I worked on this project and was successful.” while the other one says, “I did this project and we increased sales by 50%.”, it just makes sense to give the second one call, right? As you go through your resume, you’ll want to really think about the specifics of the things you’ve done.
Do you have numbers? Can you provide data points? The more details you can provide, the better.
3. Speak to the Desire Behind the Job Description
In life and in business, sometimes the things that businesses think they want may differ from what they actually need. As you read through the job description, you’ll want to ask yourself, “What are they really looking for?”.
Does the job description hint at any potential problems within the business? Are they saying, “We need X.” when the job duties suggest that what they really need is Y? If you can find, identify, and speak to those deeper concerns, you might have a better shot with the hiring manager than you think — even if you don’t have much experience to speak of.
Use These Tips to Product Your Best Job Resume Yet
The picket fence, the career progression, and the healthy 401k are in many ways what the American Dream is all about.
But whether you’re exploring your career choices or simply climbing up the corporate ladder, there’s no denying that in order to get those jobs you have to know how to write a killer resume. And thanks to the advice we’ve just given you, submitting the best job resume you’ve ever written isn’t just possible — it’s inevitable.
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