Whether they're written by senior-level executives in the manufacturing industry, first-time job seekers in engineering, or mid-career accountants, all great resumes have a few key features in common. They may not include the same kinds of accomplishments and claims, but they're structured around the same basic goal: To convince hiring managers to pick up the phone and call the candidate in for an interview. Here are a few other qualities found in almost every effective resume ever submitted.
1. They look good.
In this age of digital text editing and document layout, there's really no excuse for any document—especially a resume—that looks like it was handwritten or formatted by a third grader. In an effective resume, professionalism comes through in every detail. Each text box, font choice, and line of white space should be graceful, confident, and visually appealing. If managers glance over your resume and recognize that you're the real deal before they even read a word, your challenge is halfway over.
2. They demonstrate experience—not just with the job, but with the job search.
There are two kinds of job seekers in the world: Those who know what they're doing and those who don't. In a different kind of world, a clumsy, unprofessional job application might suggest something positive, i.e., a candidate who's so in-demand that she's never had to actually hit the pavement and look for work. But that's not the world we live in. No matter what you're doing in this life at any given moment, it's a good idea to invest in the process and do it well, and that includes creating a beautifully presented and well-argued case for your employment. Organize your resume according to professional standards, and know what the rules are before you break them. Job searching is your job now. Do it like you've been doing it since the day you were born.
3. They're articulate.
This is where the lessons you learned in ninth grade English class will pay off in real dollars. The smarter you sound, the smarter and more valuable employers will find you, and the more interest they'll show in your candidacy. Smooth, well-written sentences tend to demonstrate all kinds of positive qualities, including strong communication skills, attention to detail, critical thinking ability, logical reasoning skills, and general intelligence. Don't cut corners with language. If you need help, get help. Rely on a professional resume editor if you need to.
4. They're good closers.
Great resumes tell a story, and the story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Readers need to walk away knowing exactly what you can do, how you've demonstrated these abilities in the past, and how you'll contribute to the success of your target company in the future. Great resumes ring with a clear message: hiring you is the smartest and most obvious decision your reader can possibly make. "There's no maybe about it," your resume will tell the employer. "Just put me down and pick up the phone. And do it now, or your competitors will get there first."
Great Resumes Don't Fool Around
Like any other form of excellent writing, effective resumes start strong, stay strong, and leave employers wanting more. Start with a visit to LiveCareer to create an application that will open any door you choose to walk through.