The average employer spends only six seconds scanning your resume. So how do you catch their attention and show that you’re a good fit for the job? It’s not an easy task, especially if you’re putting together your resume for the first time. We’ve compiled some of the best tips and strategies for crafting an effective resume – plus a bonus way to ensure your resume stands out from the competition.
Here are our top tips to perfect your resume:
1. Tailor to Your Goals
Before you write your resume, ask yourself questions like:
- “What am I using this resume for?”
- “What is my goal for this resume?”
- “What’s the most important information I want employers to know about me?”
Write these questions down and try to answer them the best you can. Once you have these answered, read them aloud to yourself or to a peer or family member. The more eyes and ears on what you have to say, the better idea you’ll have about how you’re coming across. These questions and answers can help clarify what you’d like to include on your resume.
2. Keep it Simple
It’s easier said than done but try not to overthink or overdesign your resume. You want a document that’s simple, clean, and easy to read.
Unless the employer requests otherwise, it’s best to save your resume as a PDF file. This ensures that your formatting and style choices remain intact.
Remember – you only have six seconds to make an impression! You don’t want your resume to look cluttered and become hard to read with so many different font styles and sizes. Avoid using graphics and charts. Many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that may not recognize images or fancy layouts. If you want to add style, make sure it’s simple and highlights the most important information.
3. What Your Resume Should Include
It is key to have the right amount of content and the right kind of content on your resume. Think back to the first step. What is this resume for? Keep your ultimate goal in mind so your resume can stay on track.
There are four main sections you should be sure to include in your resume:
1. Contact Information. You want to make sure all your contact information is clear and most importantly, accurate. Put it right at the top of the page where everyone can see it. Next, most people include a summary or objective. This is a short paragraph (2-3 sentences max!) and tells the hiring manager either what you can offer them or what you are looking for. Keep this short, sweet, and to the point.
2. Work Experience. This is where things can get tricky. Resumes will vary greatly depending on your work history. This section should list the names and locations of your former employers, your job title(s) and when you worked there. Under each job, add a couple of bullet points that highlight your main responsibilities and achievements. Be sure to focus on ones that require similar skills as the job for which you are applying. Don’t worry if you have very little work experience. List what you can — including internship experience — and move on to the education section of your resume.
3. Education. List your education qualifications starting with the highest level first. If you’ve graduated from college, you don’t need to include information about your high school. Be sure to include your degree, the year you graduated or your intended graduation date, your school name and its location. You can also use this section to highlight any clubs, extracurriculars, scholarly affiliations or volunteer work you might have done during your time in school. This is also where you may want to mention any honors or awards you’ve received.
4. Skills: This section should include a handful of abilities that are necessary or relevant to the job. You’ll want to focus on different kinds of skills depending on the job. For example, some positions may be more interested in your computer and technical skills, while customer-facing jobs can be more interested in your interpersonal skills. One of our biggest resume tips? Do your best to decide and try not to overthink it!
Certain creative fields may want links to portfolios and to see examples of your past work. Meanwhile, technical jobs are often more interested in your skills in programming, math, or software development. The last of our resume tips is this: if possible, share your resume with someone in a similar career or in the human resources profession. They can give you honest feedback and insight into getting hired. If you’re a college student, your school may have a career center on campus that can do a resume assessment.
Bonus Tip: Boost your resume with an internship
In addition to a guaranteed internship in your chosen career field, AIFS Abroad Full-Time internship programs also include significant professional development tools. Our International Internship programs will help you write a stellar resume and ace your interview.