12 Characteristics of What Makes a Good Resume

Updated March 27, 2023

An impressive resume is valuable for job candidates searching for a new job. Writing a good resume puts you in a better position to secure an interview with the hiring manager. Learning what to include in your resume can help you differentiate yourself from competing candidates.

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

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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. It also communicates how your qualifications fit into the role that you're pursuing. Employers may select candidates if their resume matches the job application, which shows that they can perform the duties that the company requires.

Related: How to Show a Promotion on Your Resume

12 characteristics that make a good resume

Here's a list of elements that can help you distinguish yourself from other candidates when applying to your next position.

1. Power words

Power words are action verbs that provide a brief and effective context of your experience and the value you bring to an organization. You can include action verbs throughout your resume to help capture the attention of the hiring manager. Start each item in the work experience section with a bullet point.

Example: Educated new sales team representatives on department processes

Read more: How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

2. Keywords

Each employer has different sets of keywords that can help give you an advantage if they're included in your resume. You can look for keywords in the job description for the role that you're seeking. Employers often use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen resumes to see if you included certain keywords, such as contract experience, supervisory experience, and strong communication skills.

Hiring managers may still make judgments to determine if your experience is what the company is looking for in a potential employee. Make sure you center your resume on your skills and relevant work experience. Here's an example of a professional summary that uses strategic keywords:

Example: Self-sufficient and detail-oriented candidate with three years of experience in web development. Seeking a Web Designer role at Special Impact Digital to apply proficiency in coding and programming languages. 

Related: Top Marketing Resume Keywords (And How To Use Them)

3. Relevant skills

Convey the skills that make you a qualified candidate 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 you can insert into the resume for your applying job. This is useful if you're planning on changing industries, but keep the focus on the value you provided to another company. Talk to your colleagues and ask for suggestions of skills you can add to your resume.  

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

4. Confidence

The way you communicate your experience is critical in proving you're qualified for the position. 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 may align 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 units

It's important for you to be concise when discussing your qualifications. This can help the hiring manager understand 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 you.

Example: Oversaw social media efforts that expanded conversion rates by 27% for client accounts

6. White space

Blank regions of your resume that contains no text or imagery are known as white space. You can remove skills and work experience that are not essential to the job posting to add white space on your resume. A resume that you create on graphic design programs can give you more space to work with, and you can create appealing images and text that can attract interest from the hiring manager.

Related: Resume Borders: How to Use Margins on Your Resume

7. Free of errors

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. A second opinion about the content on your resume can give you more confidence that the document is free of errors.

8. Consistent information

The job application may require you to attach a cover letter with your resume. Make sure the information you include on both documents matches. For example, if you note in your cover letter that you have 10 years of experience in your industry, include the same number in the professional summary of your resume.

9. Simple format

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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 can have the number of skills and experiences to apply to the job description.

Related: How To Write a Simple Resume: Definition and Format

10. Customizable to the job

Besides including keywords, make sure you customize the information to match every job you pursue. Perform research on the company to gain insight into its goals and expectations for employees and incorporate your findings into your resume. For example, if an advertising agency is aiming to increase conversion rates, you can discuss in your resume how promotional campaigns you've led in the past boosted sales.

Related: How To Use Resume Keywords to Get an Interview (Includes Tips and Examples)

11. Concise

A concise resume has a simple format that's easy for a hiring manager to skim. Consider being as specific as possible when describing your work experience and accomplishments to save space on your resume and communicate your credentials in a straightforward fashion. You can also limit your resume to one page. 

When you're writing your resume, ensure that you're making each experience read as a statement, not a full sentence. The best resume has statements with impactful action verbs. This way, you can move directly to the salient points you want to cover. Examples of action verbs include:

  • Adept

  • Collaborate

  • Encourage

  • Prevent

  • Educate

Related: 195 Action Verbs to Make Your Resume Stand Out

12. Relevant links

Since your resume is a concise summary of your professional background, you can include additional links that offer more information. Link to your career portfolio or blog to showcase your career accomplishments and industry knowledge. You can also consider linking to a business social media profile.


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