The best way to earn a call from a hiring manager is to present a resume that's precisely tailored to a job description. There are four distinct processes to producing the best resume: preparation, reviewing the job description, matching your skills to the job description, and finally, creating your resume.
Follow these 15 steps to produce a resume that will increase your chances of landing an interview.
- Make a list of your own skills. First, write down all of your hard and soft skills. Consider the five soft skill categories — leadership, communication, interpersonal, analytical and personal traits — to make sure you cover all your bases. Do the same with hard skills by reflecting on the software, tools and techniques you've used throughout your career.
- Rank your skills according to proficiency. This helps you stay honest with yourself when deciding which employer-sought skills to include or emphasize on your resume.
- List career accomplishments and the skills used to achieve them. Not only will this list be useful in interviews, but it'll be key to writing your resume and cover letter.
- Measure these achievements with quantifiable metrics. When it comes time to write your resume, listing accomplishments in terms of measurable figures (i.e., "Streamlined annual budget, resulting in 10% savings") will be critical to showing how your skills helped employers.
- Focus your job search on relevant roles of interest. With your lists of skills and accomplishments in hand, make another list of relevant, potential jobs that you find appealing.
Match your skills to the job description
- Break down the job ad into a list of skills. Don't only make note of traits explicitly listed as "skills," but every duty or qualification that implies the use of a skill.
- Make a list of all other requirements for the role. Look for the required years of experience, education and all other qualifications outlined in the job description.
Align your resume with the job description
- Cross-reference these lists with your own lists of skills and quantified achievements. Narrow down your listed qualifications to those relevant to the role, and stay mindful of synonyms. If a role requires "point-of-sale operation skills," for example, that's synonymous with any "cash register training" you already have.
- Consider your resume's format. Functional and combination resumes emphasize transferable skills, and are the best choice for those new to their field or changing industries. Keep in mind that format determines where and how thoroughly you can detail each skill.
- Use the job description's exact phrasing. Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to automatically eliminate resumes that don't match job descriptions. This means it's safest to use an ad's exact phrasing and spelling when writing your resume.
- Use industry terminology. Using the same industry-specific phrases as the employer shows you've read the job description and suggests you meet their definition of an industry expert.
- Don't forget to include quantifiable metrics. These are critical to showing hiring managers exactly how your skills contributed to your previous employers.
Create a resume to succeed
- Consider your resume's design. The visual style you choose can reflect whether you have a sense of a company's culture. Showing you've gleaned this from the job ad can be crucial to getting hired. Also, images, unusual fonts and unconventional layouts may confuse an ATS.
- Avoid simple, disqualifying mistakes. To an ATS, spelling and grammar errors turn high-value keywords into irrelevant filler, and using the wrong file format may keep your resume from being read or received at all.
- Save additional information for your cover letter. Stuffing your resume with less-relevant qualifications only calls attention to the differences between your resume and the job ad. Make sure to set aside a few quantifiable achievements for your cover letter.