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Resumes & Cover Letters

What Makes a Good Resume?

February 4, 2020

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Writing a good resume is valuable for employees searching for a new job. Writing a good resume puts you in a better position to secure an interview with the hiring manager. However, your resume needs to stand out from the rest of the applicants for them to be interested in your candidacy.

In this article, we will outline why writing a good resume is important and feature the characteristics of what makes a good resume.

Read more: How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

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Why is writing a good resume important?

Writing a good resume is crucial for you to demonstrate your education, work experience and skills. Also, a good resume communicates how your qualifications fit into the role in which you're applying for. Employers select applicants if their resume is tailored to the job application, which shows that you can perform the duties required by the employer.

Read more: How to Show a Promotion on Your Resume

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Characteristics that make a good resume

Here is a list of elements that'll help you stand out from other applicants when applying to your next position.

  1. Power words
  2. Keywords
  3. Relevant skills
  4. Confidence
  5. Clarity and quantitative stats
  6. Formatting

1. Power words

Power words are action verbs that prove to be an influential element of a vigorous resume. Overall, they provide a brief and effective context of your experience and the value you bring to an organization. You'll want to include action verbs throughout your resume to help capture the attention of the hiring manager. Let's take a look at an example of how to use a power word when explaining your experience:

Example: Educated new sales team representatives on department processes, coached new hires to close sales and served as a mentor.

2. Keywords

Each employer has different sets of keywords that can help give you an advantage if they're included in your resume. The usage of applicant tracking systems (ATS) by employers shows the number of keywords used, but they still have to make a judgment to determine if your experience is what the company is looking for.

However, it's important to not write the resume based on your keywords, but keep the messaging centered on your skills and relevant work experience. Let's review an example of a keyword that you can include on your resume:

Example: 3+ years of experience in web development

3. Relevant skills

You want to convey the skills that make you a qualified applicant and make you worthy of proceeding to the next step of the interview process. Check to see if you have transferable skills from previous positions that can be inserted into the resume for the job you're applying to. This is useful if you're planning on changing industries, but you want to keep the focus on the value you provided to another company.

Example: Created and monitored a 10K email list for the University of South Florida's weekly newsletter, increasing turnout at campus events during the 2018-2019 school year.

4. Confidence

The way you communicate your experience is critical in proving you're qualified for the position. Yet, you need to let the interviewer know what tangible results you've earned on another organization's behalf. The results you've earned and the way they're written on the resume are usually aligned with who makes it to the next round of the interview process.

Example: Increased sales of marketing services by 40% over the first 12 months.

5. Clarity and quantitative stats

It's important for you to be concise when discussing your qualifications, so the hiring manager knows what you can bring to the organization and understand your opportunities for growth. Stay clear of wordiness and prioritize the most valuable information you want your prospective employer to know about.

Example: O**versaw social media efforts that expanded conversion rates by 27% for client accounts.

6. Formatting

You have a wide variety of choices for how you want to display your experience. Each choice can match how you're trying to get the employer to notice your resume. Here are three examples of different types of formatting for your resume:

  • Chronological: This resume merely highlights your professional job experience. This gives employers an overview of your most recent work experience, listed at the top of the application, to the bottom where it can show your first position in the workforce. The main point you want to emphasize is the tenure you have at one organization. The longer you stay at a company, the more trust an employer has in you to stay with an organization for a while.
  • Functional: A functional resume details your workplace success within the skills you highlight. In other words, the type of skills is the focus of this resume, and it can be beneficial if you're looking to work in another industry. Employers like to hire employees that possess the ability to learn and obtain different skills, so they find out who can adapt to their new role if they're given an offer.
  • Combination: A combination resume blends chronological and functional resumes. This is an ideal resume if you're applying to an entry or mid-level position because you'll have the number of skills and experiences to apply to the job description. If you have worked internships, you can combine the skills you learned from your internship in addition to your responsibilities while employed with the company.

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Tips for writing a good resume

Here are some additional tips to help you write a quality resume when applying for jobs.

  • Be careful of word usage: When you're writing your resume, ensure that you're making each experience read as a statement, not a full sentence. The best resume is composed of statements with impactful action verbs. This way, you can move directly to the salient points you want to cover.
  • Proofread and peer review: Always proofread your resume out loud before you submit it. This is important to make your resume error-free and to maximize its quality. Have your friend or a family member read too so they can give feedback about what you wrote.
  • Utilize white space: Blank regions of your resume that contains no text or imagery is known as white space. You can remove skills and work experience that is not essential to the job posting to add white space on your resume. A resume created on graphic design programs can give you more space to work with as well as create appealing images and text that can attract interest from the hiring manager.

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