How to Write a Resume That Gets You an Interview

How to Write A Resume

Creating a resume has one purpose only: to get you an interview.  

With that in mind, there are many reasons why having a solid resume is absolutely imperative to getting a job.  One of the most common mistakes I see people make is to use their resume as an exhaustive list of their roles and responsibilities.  I’m going to tell you something very important: no one reads your entire resume.  I repeat:  NO ONE READS YOUR ENTIRE RESUME. I know this, because not only have I interviewed many candidates in my career, but I have confirmed this with many recruiters from entry-level to the owner of the recruiting agency. Thus, you must be very strategic about the information that you do include.  Here are 6 tips on how to create a functional resume while best utilize this space, including types of resume sections you will want to create:

Add a Skills section.  This section is used differently than the way we used to use it in the past.  When we were first starting our careers, we probably added things to this section such as Microsoft Word, Excel, etc.  This is the wrong use of this section (you can add a separate Technology section elsewhere to show your software experience).  Instead, you want to include transferable skills sets here.  Transferable skills are those that you have gained from your previous work experience that could be transferred from job to job.  Some examples would be: project management, data analysis, revenue growth, digital strategy, relationship building, brand partnerships, etc.  This section does two things:  

  • It allows the person reading your resume to quickly scan the list of skills with their mental checklist in mind to see if you have what they are looking for, and 
  • It allows applicant tracking systems databases to find keywords in your resume.  When you apply online for a job, your resume goes into a database.  Oftentimes you are competing against hundreds of people for the same job. The way a company finds qualified candidates is by putting a list of keywords that include the job description you’re applying for into the search function of the database and the system will render a list of resumes that most closely match.

Your Work Experience Section Should Focus on achievements.  Instead of trying to remember everything you did at a job, try to remember everything you accomplished.  These are things that you can look back on and say that by doing this, you made the company, project, or team better.  Don’t get too wordy here.  The goal is to entice them into talking to you and you can explain the rest of the details in your interview.

Put top achievements in the first few bullet points.  Depending on the situation, you may need to write a combination of achievements and responsibilities to show that you have the experience necessary to do the job. These bullet points should be relevant to the job you’re applying for.  If that is the case, make sure you put your achievements FIRST.  Also, if you have any measurable achievements (e.g. generated $1M increase in revenue, or hit quarterly goal by 200%), put those at the very top of the bulleted list.

Add any measurable figures to the beginning of the sentence, not the end.  I often see sentences structured like this:  “Built relationships and streamlines processes resulting in 300% QoQ growth.”  Instead, put the number at the beginning of the sentence to catch the reader’s eye: “Generated 300% QoQ growth through relationship building and streamlining processes.”  

Use your Summary section to tell people things they wouldn’t necessarily glean by reading your resume.  You never want to insult someone’s intelligence by summarizing things they can learn by scanning your resume.  Also, cover letters are almost never required (or read) anymore.  Thus, the Summary section is a great opportunity to write a mini-sales pitch for yourself at the top of the page. 

Include details that can cause the user to relate to you.  Even though you are summarizing your experience, you should always include details that can catch the reader’s eye and curiosity.  For example, saying “I worked on reducing tobacco use in foreign countries” is different from saying “I worked on reducing tobacco use in China, India, and Russia.”  Perhaps the reader is from one of these countries and they are eager to understand what you did to reduce tobacco use in these areas.  This could get them to reach out to you immediately for an interview.

  • Don’t forget to include the basics such as contact information, email address, phone number, years of experience in relevant fields, your LinkedIn profile, an education section and a short list of soft skills.
  • Use action verbs in an easy-to-read tone that gets straight to the point. Resist the urge to include too many words when you can get your point across in a shorter sentence. You’re not writing a novel… you’re building a resume.
  • If you do these things (and remember to ALWAYS check for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors  – yes, I still see these), you should easily grab the reader’s attention and move yourself to the front of the pack!

Lauren Stearley

Lauren Stearley is an Ad Tech Specialist, resume and career coach, and writer living in Brooklyn, New York.

Follow Lauren on Instagram: @stearlgirl

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