A strong resume may be easy to spot in a pool of weak or below-average candidates. But when the applicant pool gets wider and the average level of talent increases, a strong resume may not be enough to edge out the competition. There’s a difference between a resume that’s just good and one that’s great. And there’s a difference between a great resume and one that actually leads to great job offer. Here are five qualities that managers usually find in job-winning resumes.
1. They’re beautiful to look at.
When managers print out every resume in the pool and then hold the strongest contender up against the others, there’s usually a clear difference. And this difference is usually visible even before reviewers read a single word.
Attention to detail matters in every industry, at every level. And the most promising candidates (for almost any job) are usually the ones that seek help and take the time they need to create a resume that’s balanced, pleasing to the eye, and professionally formatted.
2. Their organizing principle is obvious and very easy to grasp.
In a winning resume , subheadings are crystal clear, and they’re ordered in a way that conforms to professional business standards. The candidate may be unique, and his talents may be rare, but his resume aligns with the same tried-and-true principles that drive the world of business and commerce. Clear section headings set off his education, his work history, and his special skills, and the entire document is elegantly summarized in a quick paragraph at the top of page one.
3. Parallel structure rules the day.
In a winning resume, each set of bullet points under each subheading begins with the same part of speech (proper noun, verb, date, position title, etc.) For example, if the first bullet point begins with the word “managed,” then the second, third, and fourth will begin with “held,” “led, “organized,” “produced,” etc. If the first item is a company name, then the second, third, and fourth will also be company names. If the first is a city (like Atlanta, GA), then the others will also begin with locations.
4. The candidate clearly has a personality—and it’s a good one.
The best resume in the pool always seems to belong to a real person, not a robot. And that real person isn’t just looking for any job—she’s looking for this job, with this company, and she’s thought long and hard about why this position is absolutely perfect for her and why she’s perfect for it. Nobody can own this role like she can. And she has the desire, the energy, and the hard numbers to back up this statement. She also seems trustworthy and very serious about any completed project that bears her name. (Including this resume, which is obviously typo-free.)
5. Great resumes aren’t created alone.
No matter how strong your candidacy may be, there’s no need to write a resume on your own. No job seeker is on an island, and before you submit your application to potential employers, it’s a good idea to get help and perspective from friends, family, mentors, editors, and of course, LiveCareer —your best resource for resume formatting and job search tools.