Six seconds. That’s the amount of time you have to impress a recruiter with your résumé.
You need to sweat the small stuff. That means making certain that your résumé includes these nine basic elements:
1. Contact information
This may seem obvious, but candidates sometimes forget to include basic information like their email address, or they bury it at the bottom. “Include your name, phone number, email, and URL to your LinkedIn profile right at the top of the page,” executive career coach and founder of Résumé Writers’ Ink Tina Nicolai says. “And you don’t need to include your home address.”
Executive résumé writer Mary Elizabeth Bradford suggests including just one phone number and email address. “Some people will include their home and cell numbers, for example — but I find multiple contact choices to be confusing. Make it easy for your reader to understand how to contact you.”
2. Professional title
When someone reviews your résumé, there should be no question as to the type of role you’re seeking, says Amanda Augustine, a career-advice expert for TopRésumé. “Make sure your goals are crystal clear by including a professional title at the top of your résumé, such as ‘Senior Accounting Professional’ or ‘Marketing & Sales Associate,’ just below your contact information and above your career narrative (what I usually call the ‘professional summary’).”
3. Keywords from the job posting
You’ll want to include (without making it look like you did a lot of copying and pasting) some keywords and phrases from the job posting. This is especially important if the employer uses a résumé-scanning system.
Augustine says in addition to eyeballing job descriptions that are relevant to your job search and pulling out the most commonly used keywords, you can also copy and paste a number of the job descriptions into JobScan.co to identify the most frequently mentioned terms and see how your résumé measures up.
“You get up to five scans for free, so I recommend scanning your résumé against a number of job descriptions (3-5) at the same time to get the most out of the service and get a better aggregate of the terms you should be using.”
4. Accomplishments and achievements
Employers need to know what you’ve done to contribute to the growth of your department, team, and company to determine whether your strengths align with the needs and responsibilities of their company and the job opening, Nicolai says.
Under each job title and description, include the most important, impressive, and relevant achievements.
5. Your career narrative
“No matter if you are constructing a functional résumé or a chronological résumé, some kind of professional history is critical,” Bradford says. “But make sure your story makes for a more interesting read.”
“Employers need numbers to be able to fully evaluate the scope of your bandwidth,” Nicolai says. “No position is exempt from measuring results. And metrics help employers determine if a person is capable of leading a team, managing clients, or growing the business.”
Metrics are also a great way to back up your achievements.
For instance, instead of just saying, “Helped grow revenue,” say something like, “Helped grow revenue by 500% to $US1 million in 12 month period by doing X.”
7. Certifications and credentials
If you have a certification or advanced degree that’s considered to be an asset in your field, such as an MBA or RN, include it after your name at the very top of your résumé, suggests Augustine. “You don’t need to include the acronym for your undergraduate degree or a certification that’s not relevant to your current job goals. “
She says you should “still add details about these credentials in the education and professional development section of your résumé. Since this section usually appears at the end of your résumé, adding the acronyms after your name ensures the recruiter doesn’t accidentally miss this important information when they’re quickly scanning your job application.”
8. Relevant URLs
While résumés tend to be pretty cut-and-dried documents, there are ways to give hiring managers a better sense of your personality and expertise without breaking some of the standard résumé guidelines, Augustine explains. “Include links to websites that highlight your personal brand. This information should be grouped with your contact information at the top of your résumé. In addition to including the URL to your LinkedIn profile, you may want to include the links to your blog or online portfolio.”
A word to the wise: If you decide to add this information to your résumé, make sure you’re keeping these sites current and that the focus of these sites supports your personal brand and is relevant to your current job goals, she says. “For instance, if you’re searching for a job in operations, there’s no need to share the link to your blog about your favourite musician.”
In your résumé, you want your language to be direct and succint. Rely on verbs, not adjectives, to convey a sense of action and accomplishment.
In a City AM article, Emma Haslett writes that recruiters tend to favour certain verbs (like “managed” and “delivered”). If you want to expand your CV vocabulary, check out this helpful list of action verbs from Michigan State University.
Jacquelyn Smith contributed to a previous version of this article.
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