As someone who has been applying to jobs post-grad school, I have learned to play by the rules of resume-crafting—and it is a craft to sell your qualifications on an 8 by 11-inch piece of paper. While the overarching goal is to tailor your resumé to be as relevant to the position and company you are applying to, I’ve included a handful of other tips to create a standout resumé.
- Consider starting from scratch. If your resumé is like mine, it has evolved over dozens of iterations. However, the result can be a watered down, generalized list of qualifications that is not tailored to the position to which you are applying. Sometimes, you have to scrap the whole thing and start anew.
- Include keywords from the job description. Highlighting key words and phrases within your resumé makes it easier for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and those reading it to identify you as a qualified applicant. Keep in mind that your resumé is one in pile of others, so whoever is reading it must be able to discern if you have relevant work experience from a cursory glance.
- Use quantifiable information. Doing so offers more detail that is impactful and informative. If you can’t cite hard numbers (e.g. how much money your project saved your employer), you can always choose a range that still illustrates the scale of your accomplishment.
- Create a narrative using a summary statement. While the value of a summary statement has been debated, it can be useful in tying together the diverse experiences you have that, by themselves, can appear unrelated. For someone like myself who has listed a retail sales job below my health care internship, a summary statement has relayed the value of my client-facing and health care experience when applying for jobs in consulting.
- Prioritize your most relevant experiences. The goal of this is, similarly to #2, to make it easier for whoever is reading your resume to quickly discern if you are a qualified candidate. Just like an elevator pitch, your resumé should be concise and immediately catch one’s attention.
- Add contextual descriptions. If your job title is ambiguous or the employer is not well-known, you can choose to add short descriptions. Doing so offers another opportunity for the hiring manager to connect your previous experience with the job position.