5 Universal Rules for a Stellar Resume

If a job search is a journey, a stellar resume is your passport. If you’re getting ready for your next career move, keep these 5 universal rules in mind as you create or update your resume.

1.Cover all the basics

The goal of a resume is to best represent your relevant skills and accomplishments, every resume requires these basic elements:

  • Relevant educational degrees or certifications and/or licenses. If you have many educational credentials, you only need to include the ones that are most relevant to the job description.
  • Relevant work and volunteer experience. Don’t include everything you did in your past jobs. Instead, focus on achievements over responsibilities.
  • Contact information. Your full name, the city where you live, your email address and phone number.
  • Relevant skills and your level of mastery. For example, “conversational French” or “familiar with Microsoft Excel” vs. “fluent in French” or “expert at Microsoft Excel”.

2. Use as few words as possible

Employers need to quickly understand your work experience. Format your experience as a list of short, scannable statements, rather than writing out dense paragraphs. For example:

  • Too wordy:  Applied expert financial management skills to achieve a 30% reduction in departmental expenses through diligent research, identifying significant inefficiencies.
  • More concise: Achieved 30% departmental cost savings by eliminating inefficiencies.

The typical resume is two pages maximum, so make sure all the information you’ve included is essential. Keep the experiences that you want to keep building on and match what the employer is looking for—this meets the definition of essential information to include on your resume.

3. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible

Numbers and data bring your work experience to life and help hiring managers envision the potential impact you could have in their organization. When you can, back up your achievements with real data to boost your credibility and add informative detail to your resume. For example:

  • Unquantified: Improved lead generation through strategic content marketing initiatives.
  • Quantified: Achieved 150% year-over-year lead growth through strategic content marketing initiatives.

4. Use keywords from the job descriptions

Hiring managers want to see that you can speak their language and know the language that’s commonly used in their industry. When they see their own keywords mirrored back to them in your resume, it reinforces the idea that you’re a strong candidate for the role.

5.Proofread to catch typos and misspellings

Unfortunately, a single typographical or spelling error is sometimes enough to get your resume discarded early in the game. Proofread your resume multiple times, doing a thorough line-by-line, word-by-word edit. Ask a friend, mentor, or family member to review your resume for you before you begin submitting it to employers.

A strong resume can streamline your job search process, helping you showcase your strengths and get one step closer to landing a job. With some diligent work upfront—and by following these five universal rules—you can turn this fundamental job search document into one of your strongest professional assets.

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