12 Steps to building a resume that gets read

12 Steps to building a resume that gets read

I have a new client who needed help with a résumé for a job that he wanted to apply for. I’d created a master résumé based on his LinkedIn profile, and he’d sent me a link to the job he is interested in. This is the process I used to create a version of his résumé that was tailored to the job that he wanted.

By using these 12 steps yourself, you’ll find that by creating a resume tailored to the job you applied for makes it more likely that your résumé will actually get read.

1. Review the actual job description
My first step was to read the job description and find out what the organisation was actually looking for. On the second read through, I highlighted the key skills, qualifications and experience that the company was looking for. Whatever job you’re looking for, make sure that you don’t skip this task, as one thing it highlights is the keywords that the organisation uses.
2. Make sure that you meet the organisations basic criteria
It may seem like common sense, but I emailed my client with the list of criteria that he definitely met, and then checked on the criteria that I thought he met, but needed clarification on the industry-specific words used. There is no point is wasting your time, and theirs, by applying for a job that you don’t meet the requirements of. He was able to highlight the specific type of projects the company was looking for, and we ensured that these were included in the work experience.3. Choose a résumé design
I prefer to give clients a clean design for their résumé, and use my Pinterest board as a place where they can choose a design that meets their needs. I create a master version of the resume, using Headings to in Microsoft Word to keep a consistent format.  I can then save the resume as different versions, simply altering the format of the headings to create different designs. If you’re unsure about how important design is, take a look at the two images showing where recruiters eyes actually looked on résumés.

4. Start at the top
The top of the page is where your basic information is displayed. Make sure that the organisation you want to work for can actually contact you. Personally, I also add a link to the persons LinkedIn profile. This will contain much more information than a résumé can, such as recommendations and skill endorsements.

5. Add a headline/tagline/title for your resume
Summarise in one line what you can bring to the organisation.

6. Add a summary
Going back to the job description, where you can, mirror your career highlights to the job description, using the same keywords where you can. NB: if your résumé goes through a computer matching programme, it will be looking for the keywords from the job description.

The order that you add the next sections will depend on the priority shown in the job description. So for example, if the first thing the organisation states it wants is a degree, then add the Education and Training section first, then the Certifications section. If they are looking for specific experience, then have the Skills and Expertise section then Work Experience section, followed by the Education and Certifications. Make the priority of your résumé match the priority of the organisation.

7. Add Education
Using one line for each qualification, state the qualification, place where it was obtained and then the year. List the qualifications is reverse chronological order.

8. Add Certifications
As well as certain qualifications, most jobs require certain certifications to demonstrate occupation-specific skills. List them as above.

9. Add Skills and Expertise
Using either continuous section breaks and columns, or tables, list a summary of your key skills, again focusing on the skills that you have, that they are looking for.

10. Add job descriptions
These should be written in the first person, but without using the word “I” at the beginning of the sentence e.g. “Managed” instead of “I managed”.  Using 3 or 4 sentences say what you actually do, then using a heading such as achievements, bullet point 2 – 5 accomplishments in the role. Where you can, front-load the achievement, so instead of saying “Did x which resulted in a saving of $Y”, say “Saved $Y by the use of X”.

Tip: Where possible, be specific about your achievements and the outcomes. Managers are looking for people who do one or more of the following:

  • increase sales i.e. make money
  • decrease expenses i.e. save money
  • save time i.e. do things more efficiently
  • simplify business processes i.e. make work easier
  • solve a problem
  • attract new customers or retain existing one e.g. through customer service initiatives and marketing
  • expand the business

Tip: Use active words such as managed, administered, saved, reduced rather then “responsible for” or “my duties included”.

11. Proof read the complete résumé 
The one thing that most organisations find unforgivable is spelling mistakes. This is closely followed by mistakes in grammar. Use spellchecker and make sure that words that may be correctly spelt are used in the correct context.
12. Read through your résumé and compare to the job description
Once I have finished a résumé , I go back to the job description and what was highlighted, making sure that wherever possible, those keywords are in the résumé. 

Your resume is your one and only chance to make a good impression. If you don’t pass this first test, you won’t progress to the interview stage. It’s worth taking the time to get it right.

If you found this blog post helpful, then please let me know, and if you feel you would benefit from some help with your LinkedIn profile, then consider getting a full, systematic review of your profile, or some one to one training and support.

If you check out my LinkedIn profile, you’ll get access to a number of free resources and vouchers to my Udemy courses.

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