May 27, 2022

Writing a Résumé That Will Get You Ahead in 2021

By B&SC Career Services Team

Writing a Résumé That Will Get You Ahead in 2021

Whether you’re about to graduate from college, or have already graduated and are looking to do a little career spring cleaning, now is a good time to be job searching. One of the most important steps in making your search a success is writing a great résumé.

But if you’re like most people, you’ve probably been putting it off.

It’s completely understandable. Writing a résumé is hard. You feel that you have to fit the entire story of your professional life – what you know, what you can do and everything you’ve accomplished – onto one (only one!) blank sheet of 8.5″ by 11″ paper. Plus, you’ve got to do it in a way that makes you seem completely different than the hundreds of other people with a similar background applying for the same job.

When you think about all the ways that job searching has changed recently, like software programs that rate a résumé before a human ever sees it, that blank sheet can feel even blanker.

Don’t let all that get the best of you. You’ve come so far, and as you start to write or refresh your résumé, we’ve got a few tips that can help it, and you, go even further.

Tip #1: Spend The Time

Because writing a résumé is difficult, a lot of people rush through it, investing just the bare minimum of time before hitting “save.” The problem with this approach is that it shows. Typos and grammatical errors on résumés are common; according to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 77% of hiring managers won’t consider an applicant after they’ve noticed that kind of mistake.

When you think about the long term, a good résumé can make the difference in getting you the job you’ve always dreamed of. So putting time into it will literally pay off. Commit to spending two hours a week (or whatever amount of time you can) crafting your résumé until you’re proud of it.

And when you’re done, you can have Career Services take a look and give you feedback. But don’t leave it there. Career Services is a resource even after you graduate: As your job search continues and you get feedback on your résumé, you can always come back and rework it with them.

Tip #2: Don’t Write One Résumé; Write Many

No two jobs are the same, but most job hunters have just one résumé that they send in for every opening they see. You may be perfect for the role, but most hiring managers spend less than 20 seconds looking at each résumé, and if they don’t see what they want to see, they’ll keep clicking without a second thought.

It can help to think of your résumé like an outfit you wear. You always get dressed, but you change it up to make the right impression for where you’re going.

Work that same kind of thinking into your job search. If you’re applying for a physical therapist assistant opening at a big hospital, create a version of your résumé that focuses on working in that setting. If you’re applying for a similar role in a small practice, tailor your résumé to that.

You don’t have to write a new résumé for each application. Just like an outfit, making a few small changes can attract a lot of attention. Craft your summary statement (which is the short recap of your experience up top) and add or delete skills to match the role. (You should always look at the job description you’re working from to see which skills and what experience they’re looking for.)

It will take a bit more time. (See Tip #1.) But not as much as you think. You’ll be putting in a lot of applications, and once you’ve got a version of your résumé that’s dialed in to a specific type of job, you can use it again and again for that type of application.

Tip #3: Put Your Value Front and Center

Many job seekers make the mistake of treating their résumé like an autobiography and attempt to put in every detail about their background.

But hiring managers don’t want to know everything about you. They just want to know that you can help them. Make sure that every sentence in your résumé is about what you can bring to the position. Instead of just writing about where you’ve worked or gone to school, write about what you did there (for example, “In this position, I had demonstrated success in helping customers…”). If you don’t have much job experience in the field you’re applying to, you can list the courses you’ve taken that are related to that field and the skills you’ve developed as a result.

In your summary statement, write about what you can do, not who you are. Throughout the rest of the résumé, emphasize what you can bring to the role by writing direct sentences with strong verbs, like “I achieved a 20% increase in sales” or “I led a team of 12 tutors.”

Tip #4: Make It Easy for People to Read

The first person who reviews your résumé could be reviewing dozens if not hundreds of other résumés that day. If yours is confusing or hard to read for any reason, they’ll move onto the next one.

Here are a few tips to make yours as easy to read as possible:

? Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the page.

? Limit your résumé to one page.

? Use a simple, clear font like Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana or Cambria.

? Set your font size between 10.5 and 12.

? Make sure your email address looks professional. If your personal email address is [email protected], consider setting up a new, lower-key address just for your job search.

Tip #5: Make It Easy for Computers to Read

Chances are that before your résumé makes it to a person it will be automatically scanned and ranked by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). An ATS “reads” your résumé first, then tells the hiring manager how likely it is to be a good fit for the job.

The following steps can make it easier for the ATS to scan your résumé and score it higher:

? Submit your résumé as a Microsoft Word doc (.docx) rather than a PDF or other format.

? You can also use a free, online service like rezi.io to convert your résumé into a format that’s easy for ATS systems to read.

? Use the fonts mentioned in the previous section.

? Organize your résumé around three areas: “Work Experience,” “Skills” and “Education.”

? Work keywords into your résumé. Which keywords should you use? Look at the job description you’re responding to and pick out the most important words it uses.

This can all seem like a lot of effort to put into one sheet of paper. But you’ve put so much more effort into getting the skills and education you need to thrive in the job market. The last few hours you spend on your résumé can ensure that employers see how much you’ve really accomplished.

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