Your resume is your personal marketing tool. In today's competitive job market, crafting a stellar resume is crucial for standing out and securing the job you desire. Read on for our tips on how to create a great resume, what to avoid, and resume templates we recommend.
Your resume is to get you an interview, and for the hiring manager to make sure you’re qualified!
If you find you’re not receiving offers after interviews –your resume is likely fine. Instead, we recommend spending more time on preparing for interviews and brushing up on your skills – like questions to ask your interviewer.
Recruiters are looking at your resume for a variety of reasons, but especially to gain an understanding of:
1. How much experience you have
2. Skills related to the role they’re directly hiring for
3. Which companies you’ve worked at – names and industry
4. How often you’ve switched jobs
5. Which schools or universities you’ve attended
Focus on achievements: Quantify your achievements wherever possible under each role you’ve had. Use numbers and percentages to demonstrate the impact of your contributions. Instead of listing job duties, emphasize how your actions positively influenced the organization. Some examples of this could be:
1. A new feature you launched as a Product Manager led to an increase of 11% in revenue
2. A product you built as a Backend Engineer decreased customer churn by 25% because they were so delighted with the capabilities
3. A campaign you launched as a Marketing GrowthManager contributed to a 75% increase in traffic on key website pages, increasing the number of marketing-qualified leads
4. A feature you built as a Fullstack Engineer enabled your sales team to start selling in more international markets, meaning you were able to increase market share by 8%
Remember – impact and achievement look different at different companies. At startups or rapidly growing smaller companies – you’l likely be able to say you had a greater impact, since there’s nowhere to go but up! At larger companies or corporations with more established, recurring customers, your contributions may be the same - but represent a smaller amount of the overall “pie.” Either of these is completely fine!
Choose an appropriate format: Opt for a clean, professional format that is easy to read. Use a consistent font and maintain a balance between text and white space. Usually, we recommend candidates use a chronological format that details each job they’ve had, from the most recent to least recent, providing a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements.
Highlight relevant skills: This is especially important if you’re applying for a technical role or need to demonstrate a strong command of different programming languages. Many candidates choose to include a skills section at the bottom of their resume to list out all the skills they bring to a potential employer. However, you should also weave your skills in throughout your resume when you’re writing bullet points to show HOW you used certain languages or programs to perform your job - not just that you know them.
Use “action” verbs: Start bullet points that outline what you did in each role with powerful action verbs to convey a sense of accomplishment and initiative.
Here are some good action verbs to showcase leadership skills: Developed, Executed, Directed, Achieved, Managed, Oversaw, Established, Led, Mentored, Guided
Here are some good action verbs to showcase problem-solving or analytical skills: Analyzed, Resolved, Investigated, Evaluated, Implemented, Improved, Optimized
Here are some good action verbs to showcase technical skills: Developed, Programmed, Coded, Engineered, Designed, Implemented, Configured, Automated,Troubleshooted, Upgraded
Compare this to bullets with “less action” that are more passive: Responsible for, Assisted with, Helped, Worked on, Involved in, Participated in, Tasked with, Did, Made, Handled. We recommend avoiding these when possible.
Never lie about your achievements or your skills – but if you played a significant role, you shouldn’t downgrade your contribution. Use action verbs from the leadership, problem-solving, or technical skills lists above!
If you’re new to creating “action” resume bullets, spend some time reflecting on your past projects or work samples. Review old notes and write out how you had a direct impact. If you’re unsure about this or don’t have any notes – consider catching up with former colleagues you had a good relationship with. They may be able to remind you of your impact and speak to your talents – which can be helpful not only when writing your resume, but with your confidence when job searching. Hint: In the future, save work samples or projects you’re proud of as much as possible! Take time after a large launch or a new product to write down what you contributed. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll have to share the next time you're job searching.
Proofread and seek feedback: Thoroughly proofread your resume to catch any grammatical errors or typos. Ask friends or colleagues for their thoughts too. (Side note: this can also be a great way to reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to in a while, which can lead to job opportunities!)
Give each job the same amount of space: This is especially true for mid-career candidates, but if you’ve held a variety of roles – you don’t need to provide the same number of bullets under each role explaining what you did. For jobs you held earlier in your career, 1-2 bullets is just fine, if you decide to include them at all, which brings us to…
List every job you’ve ever had: Tailor your resume to the specific job you're applying for. Focus on relevant experience and achievements rather than creating a comprehensive list of every job you've held.
For example – if you’re new to the workforce, you don’t need to include your high school jobs, summer jobs, or every internship. If you’re a few years into working, you may not need to include any internships or even your first role out of school (especially if it’s unrelated to what you do now). And if you’re a seasoned professional – there’s no need to share each role from your early twenties or first few years out of school.
Pick out a poor email address: Choose a professional email address for your resume. Using nicknames or inappropriate words can give the wrong impression to potential employers. It’s best to create an email address that’s as simple as possible and doesn’t include a lot of extra characters – for example, your first and last name.
Forget your LinkedIn URL: Recruiters review LinkedIn a lot and may check out your profile to see if you have any connections in common. Including your LinkedIn URL is a great way to make sure they can find you – especially if you have a common name. You can also hyperlink to your website (if you have one) or Github to showcase your work - recruiters love to see that too.
Use a complicated design: Keep the design clean and simple. Avoid excessive graphics, colors, or fonts that can distract from the content. Remember – the focus should be on you and your skills – not the resume itself!
Write in long paragraphs: Use concise bullet points to highlight achievements and responsibilities. Paragraphs make it harder for employers to quickly scan your resume and find relevant information.
Use complicated acronyms: This is more for new grads, but avoid using too many acronyms without providing context. For example – if a certain technology is very niche, older, or is only used by a handful of companies and has a confusing acronym – you may want to list out the technology in words or you may be fine just leaving it off your resume entirely. Those reviewing your resume may not understand what the acronym means if you don't provide context.
Include references: Save space by not including references on your resume, and avoid the line “Reference available upon request.” It's understood that you'll provide references when asked. Use the space to highlight your skills and achievements.
Go overboard on tailoring: Highlight the skills and experiences most relevant to the specific position. A generic resume may not effectively showcase your suitability for a particular role. However, we don’t recommend spending hours tweaking your resume, or rewriting for every role. You still want to remain true to the skills you offer, and spending time working on your resume means less time spent on other areas of the job search, like interview prep.