The first step in your job search is writing (or updating) your resume, and it’s also the most difficult. We asked 24 of the top career experts for their best advice for creating your resume and their answers are like a master class in resume creation. They’re not just career experts, they’re highly experienced Certified Professional Resume Writers, authors, Certified Job and Career Transition Coaches, and people who get paid to do what you can’t always do on your own—stand out in a crowded candidate pool. Read on…
"Focus! Make sure your resume focuses on the job you want, not the job you have/used to have but now hate. Be very clear to your readers so they don't have to try and guess what you want to do (because they won't)."
Erin Kennedy, Professional Resume Services, Inc.
“Be relevant! Your resume must 'speak the language' of your target audience and show them that you have done the exact things (or possess the exact skills) they are asking for in the job description.”
Vicki Aubin, The Rockin' Career Coach
“Let your objective drive the entire writing and formatting process since it’s all about positioning yourself for your next opportunity and not just rehashing the past! Note: This does NOT mean you have to include an objective statement on your resume and, in fact, I prefer you start with a summary section that showcases your core qualifications as they relate to your job search goal.”
Wendy Enelow, Author, Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed … Get Hired
“To be effective in winning interviews, your resume must be a persuasive, branded marketing document that is results-focused and tailored to the position you are seeking. Generic, one-size-fits-all documents with misspellings, poor grammar and lack of focus get circular filed.”
Louise Garver, Career Directions International
"Don't let your resume get out of date. You never know when the opportunity for your dream job will present itself. When you have the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter, you want to be able to send them your information ASAP, not next week."
Donna Svei, Avid Careerist
"When describing the roles you have held, succinctly list the successes you achieved not just your responsibilities"
Kimberley Hubble, Hudson RPO
“Never misrepresent yourself on your resume. Resume lies—even small ones—can result in a job offer being pulled, or can come back to bite you months or even years later. It's not worth it. Represent your skills and experience in a way that appeals to a prospective employer, but do so accurately and honestly.”
Luke Roney, JobHero
“Recruiters aren’t interested in dry and boring job descriptions with lists of duties or even lists of responsibilities; focus instead on your actual achievements in each role you have undertaken—and do try to quantify them with figures, percentages, etc. where at all possible so as to add both weight and credibility.”
James Innes, The Resume Center
“Ask yourself: Can a recruiter or hiring manager easily identify your unique selling point on your resume? A recruiter or hiring manager needs to be able to identify your unique selling point easily. Beyond the requirements for the role, what do you uniquely bring to the position? Make sure that trait/characteristic/skill/experience is highlighted.”
Amy Wolfgang, Wolfgang Career Coaching
“My piece of advice for job seekers would be to make their resume mobile-friendly. Long gone are the days of including graphics and fancy elements on a printed resume. With a large majority of hiring managers and recruiters viewing resumes on mobile, it is important for a resume to be easily readable on all mobile devices. "
Caileen Kehayas, Proven
"Tailor each resume (yes, a different resume for each company) to the company and position you are interviewing for...meaning you want to focus on the skills and abilities that the company puts a lot of value in (not just the things you are proficient at) and present them in detail on your resume."
Mike Simpson, TheInterviewGuys.com
“When it comes to writing your resume, don't try to be everything to everyone. Decide on what job you want to apply for and write your resume in a way which positions your skills, experience and personality as the obvious answer to that employer's problem.”
Irene McConnell, Arielle Careers
“Demonstrate your value by illustrating your accomplishments. Companies want to know what you can do for them and the only way they will know is if you have done it for someone else, i.e., saved company money, helped increase sales, improved processes, etc.”
Martin Weitzman, Gilbert Resumes
“Shifting to an achievement-based resume is ideal because this relays to hiring companies that you’re someone who has produced results for current and past employers…and as we know, past performance offers reassurance for repeat positive performance.”
Teena Rose, Resume to Referral, LLC
"Think of your resume in the same way you would your outfit for an interview—don’t make it too cute or decorative; keep it professional, honest, concise and informative but allow your personality to come through."
Jennifer Gefsky, Après
"Be CLEAR about the job you want (‘your target’). Think of your resume as a product. It's a box. Without a job title or clear cut indication of the type of job you want, it's unclear if you are a box of cereal or a box of laundry detergent. Don't give recruiters the unnecessary power to jump to conclusions about who you want to be and what type of role you want to land: spell it out for them by writing a bold title right across the top!!"
Laura M. Labovich, The Career Strategy Group
“Scrap the useless stuff, focus on relevant information and show benefit of hiring you to your future employer.”
Tomas Ondrejka, Kickresume.com
“Keep it current. Every six months, everyone should take a look at their resume and make any relevant updates or changes based upon their accomplishments. By keeping it up to date, it’s always ready.”
Beth Colley, Chesapeake Career Management Services
“Focus more on unique and novel accomplishments, and less on typical day-to-day responsibilities. You don’t need to tell us in 10 different ways that you made coffee if your job title is Barista—we know what a Barista does. Focus instead on something you did that wasn’t something we could easily guess.”
Dave Fecak, Resume Raiders
“The only way for hiring authorities to predict future performance is to assess past performance. When including accomplishments in the resume, be sure to use the CAR formula (challenge, action, results). For every achievement bullet point be sure to begin the bullet with the result/impact and follow it up with the action.”
Lisa Chapman, Chapman Services Group, LLC
“Be clear about communicating your value proposition—what you can deliver—with proof of performance in a way that will distinguish you from others competing for the same position. This is best accomplished in the branded profile at the top of the resume (be specific and include concise examples), then backed up with a few salient details in the brief Challenge-Action-Result stories in the experience section.”
Jan Melnik, Absolute Advantage
“When writing your resume make sure you use the SAR format:
S: What was the situation or project in which you were involved?
A: What action did you take to address an issue, overcome an obstacle, or drive change?
R: What was the result of your actions?
If job seekers use that formula on their resume, the document will be results focused and highlight the key points that provide for a compelling, achievement-based resume.”
Debra Wheatman, Careers Done Write
“Make sure your resume is perfect. Spell check, grammar check, proofread it and then give it to a friend to proofread. Read it out loud or, if you have trouble catching your own mistakes, print it and proof it again.”
Malki Ehrlich, GingerSoftware.com
"Write your resume to show you’re the perfect fit for the position you’re targeting. Your fit for the role can be substantiated in many different ways—from your branding statement, to the accomplishments you share, to the culture of the company. Include how you are the solution to the company’s problem. Create your branding statement around it, use examples of how you’ve resolved identical problems/needs before and how you positively impacted your client or employer. Employers are looking for specialists (experts) not for generalists or jack-of-all-trades."
Jessica Hernandez, Great Resumes Fast
There you have it—the best tips from the best in their field. And you know where to go once you've created or updated your resume!