Top 7 tips for writing a resume in 2020

I haven’t touched my resume in years. I went back to my old resume. Let’s just say that “disappointed with my younger self” is an understatement. I’ve spent a good chunk of my time in the last 4 years interviewing people and that’s taught me a lot about what interviewers look for.

Here are my top 7 tips for writing a resume.

1. Customize your resume for each role!

It might sound like a lot of work but worth it. Make sure your resume has the keywords right off the job description. For eg, if you’re applying for a marketing role your resume SHOULD have lead generation, marketing campaigns, and social media.

Make sure you go through the job description fully to understand what they’re looking for. It’s an activity of almost putting yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager and reverse engineering what they would expect from you.

2. Use specific examples, avoid generic words

Specific examples paint a clear picture, generic words paint a vague picture. Let me illustrate(pun intended) it with ane example. “I’ve effectively improved the team morale” vs “My team has the lowest attrition rate in the past 2 years”. Which one sounds a lot more convincing?

Avoid words like “efficiently improved”, “effectively increased”. Instead, use words like “by x%”, “second best”

3. Your resume should be scannable, not just readable

If you haven’t heard about the F-shaped pattern of reading, you should. We just consume so much content these days that it takes conscious effort to read something. Most of your resumes will be opened on a web browser and hiring managers will not read, they will scan.

So make your resume scannable. Include a lot of visual elements, leave a lot of white space in between texts and highlight key milestones. Avoid long sentences and paragraphs are an absolute no!

4. Don’t confuse the hiring manager, they’ll reject you

Try to put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager, they’re looking at at least 5 to 10 resumes a day. Their mind has trained themselves to look for a certain pattern. For example, a marketing manager has trained themselves to look at years of relevant experience in a relevant field/domain. Once that criteria is hit, check.

Make sure you help them get to it quickly. While you might be tempted to include everything you’ve done, don’t. Include ONLY the things that’ll matter to the hiring manager

5. Don’t assume knowledge, use simple words

Trust me, a resume is not where you want to tell the world that you’re a walking thesaurus. You’ve probably spent a while in your current role and certain words/jargon are a part of you now. But think twice before including them in your resume. Are they common terminology or are they common only in your world?

When you include words/jargon that you understand but the hiring manager doesn’t, they’re going to assume it’s irrelevant. Use simple, everyday words to be safe. Sometimes, resumes are also screened before being passed on to the hiring manager so it’s not always wise to assume that the reader is a domain expert.

6. Solid proof over self-proclaimed statements

It’s obvious. No one wants to look bad on their resume so everyone’s going to say things like “Highly proficient with MS Excel”, “Reader of emails, accepter of calendar invites” etc. The hiring manager’s brain is already tuning them out.

Try to stand out of the crowd by including awards and accolades. “Industry award winner” sounds much better than “Deep domain knowledge”, doesn’t it? These proof points instantly add credibility as it’s not you blowing your own trumpet

7. One page, that’s all people have time for

It’s been said a lot but one page, keep your resume to one page! While you explain how you’ve had an extraordinary career and it’s hard for you to keep it to one page, allow me to pull out the Marissa Mayer’s example

Your resume is not the only place for you to include everything. If you feel like you’ve missed out on something that can help you with the job, feel free to include a cover letter as part of your job application.

Remember, the resume is not your full story, it’s simply an entry ticket. You’re going to have plenty of chances to talk about your story later on. Resist the temptation to stuff your resume.

Did I miss anything? What would be your top tip on writing a resume?

Cover Image: Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

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