Perfecting a Resume

You have been waiting a long time for your dream job, and today, you found an amazing opportunity in your job search. Both your resume and the cover letter were okay, but are they good enough to impress the hiring manager? So you ask yourself : "How do I make this into the perfect resume?”
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It is not easy to write the best resume if a hundred other job seekers are also going for your dream job.

Submitting a great resume that immediately captures the recruiters’ attention will be most helpful.

We have put together a guide for writing your perfect resume based on tips provided by career experts. Following it will show you the art of perfecting a resume.  You will also find links to perfect resume examples and templates. 

Steps You Need to Make a Perfect Resume

You seek career advice from your mentors.

You spend time crafting or updating your resume, careful to follow the guidelines offered by career experts.

But will your effort result in getting the job you want?

Follow this step-by-step guide so you can create your own resume.

Perfecting a resume

What do Employers Look for in a Resume?

What does a perfect resume look like?

With so many jobs to fill in and so many resumes to review, recruiters and hiring managers tend to favor resumes that are uncluttered and easy on the eyes.

They look for resumes that bring attention to your qualifications that bring relevance to the job, such as specific skills you have acquired.

What is the Perfect Format for a Resume?

One of the keys to writing an ideal resume is choosing the right format.

According to professional resume writers, there are three types of resume formats you can use.

The format most employers are familiar with is the chronological resume. This format focuses attention on your work experience, duties, and work history.

You list all your job roles or employment in reverse chronological order, that is, the most recent job at the top and the first job at the bottom. This format tells the head hunter how your work experience has molded and prepared you for your ideal job.

Another type is the skills-based functional format, which emphasizes your relevant skills. This type of resume format is best for entry-level job hunters to draw attention to their skills instead of their lack of relevant experience.

The same format may also be used by those shifting to a new industry or those with a resume gap – the period when the job seeker is unemployed.

The third type is the combination format, so-called because it combines the skills and professional summary highlighted in the functional format and the work experience emphasized in the chronological format. This format is not suitable for entry-level job hunters.

Career changers who would like to highlight their transferable skills will benefit from the combination format.

However, since most employers are unfamiliar with this format, job applicants tend to avoid this format.

Perfecting a resume

Always Use the Right Template for Your Resume

Your resume’s content and appearance must reflect your level of professionalism and creativity.

Typically, resumes should have the following sections, which we will discuss in detail.

  • Contact Information
  • Professional Summary
  • Skills
  • Work Experience
  • Education

However, HR managers will not see the content immediately. Instead, they will look at the layout and presentation of the content. So, how do you format the perfect resume?

Following are expert tips for formatting a great resume.

Design an elegant and streamlined template using the following guide:

  • Use a simple font type and a font size no smaller than around size 11. 
  • Apply margins around the edges
  • Maintain enough white space to separate sections from each other.
  • Keep the layout simple and avoid ornate designs.
  • You may use colors to highlight headings or sections, but do not overdo the use of colors. 
  • Make sure you can prepare your resume in multiple file formats such as PDF, DOC or TXT as employers ATS software accepts only certain formats.

Always Include Objective or Summary in Your Resume

If you are an experienced job seeker, HR managers would want to know what value you can add to their company.

A professional summary gives your potential employer an overview of why you are a perfect fit for the job.

On the other hand, if you are new to a job search, your work experience or job history is not related to the job you are applying for, you can get the hiring managers’ attention with a well-written objective statement.

Your resume summary statement or resume objective statement must be at the upper portion of your resume, following your contact details. It will be the first thing that your potential employer will read about your value to them.

Perfecting a resume

How to Write a Perfect Resume Objective or Summary

It becomes imperative that you write a resume summary statement or resume objective summary that will easily connect with the hiring manager.

When you are writing a summary statement, keep in mind the following:

  • Limit the summary statement to one or three sentences that describe your capabilities.
  • Focus on your notable achievements rather than on day-to-day tasks or the accomplishment of minimum job expectations.

For example, instead of writing:

INCORRECT

“I deal with difficult clients,”

write:

CORRECT

“Consistently achieved the highest customer satisfaction rating ranging from 96.1 to 98.9% for the past four years.”

Personalize your summary by mentioning the name of the company you wish to join 

For example, instead of writing:

INCORRECT

“Seeking career advancement with a prestigious bank,”

you write:

CORRECT

 “Seeking career advancement with Citigroup Inc.”

Your resume objective summary must tell the hiring manager what you bring with you when you join them – with or without a similar experience.

Leverage your transferable skills to show your skills or experience are relevant to the job.

  • Open with a description of yourself
  • Make your resume objective pop with numbers
  • Avoid the use of the first-person pronoun.

Here is an example of a good resume objective statement:

“Self-motivated Business Management graduate with a 3.8 GPA and outstanding honors for winning over 12 other candidates in a city-wide student entrepreneur competition,  seeking to start a career with DEF Investments as Management Trainee; Wishing to leverage strong marketing skills and financial acumen to help DEF Investments with its business goals.

Perfecting a resume

Tips to Make Your Work Experience Stand Out

The Work Experience you share in your resume should tell the hiring manager a powerful story in more detail of your work history, done in reverse chronological order.

Let us go through the presentation format of the current and each past job.

Official Job Title

This information should be at the top of each entry in the Work Experience section.

Make it stand out either by making it bold or using a font size larger by 1 or 2 pts from the rest of the items in that entry. 

Some companies use unique job titles. It would help if you indicate its equivalent term next to it.

The job title Kaizen Supervisor is an example. It refers to continuous improvement, which other companies call Process Re-engineering.

So in your resume, it should look like this:

Kaizen Supervisor (Process Re-engineering Supervisor)

Company Name

Below the job title, indicate your current or previous employer’s business name. Include the city and state where it is located.

If you worked overseas, add the name of the country where the company is based.

Period Covered

How long did that company employ you? Indicate the month and year you started and the month and date your employment with them ended.

You do not need to indicate dates. Specifying only the years covered is also acceptable.

Key Duties and Responsibilities

You need not list specific tasks that come with the job; instead, focus on the duties and responsibilities relevant to the position you are applying for.

These duties and responsibilities must be described in bullet points, with each bullet point representing one essential duty or responsibility.  Five to six bullet points per job will suffice.

Use strong action verbs to underscore the value of each duty and responsibility.

These action verbs must follow the grammatical rule on verb tense.

If you are describing a current job, your action verb must be in the present tense and those that pertain to your past jobs, must have action verbs in the past tense.

Your achievements

Your list of duties and responsibilities indicates what you can do, but your achievements talk about how good you are at doing them.

Many other applicants will be claiming similar duties and responsibilities, and if you want to differentiate yourself from them, it makes sense to highlight your proficiency level.

Use bullet points to present your achievements. 

Examples

Below is an effective example of a work experience entry in the resume of a Senior Trainer applicant

Training Specialist
XYZ Telecommunications, Inc. 
San Francisco, California
September 2014 – December 2020

Key Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Designed, delivered, and evaluated XYZ’s core training programs consisting of Company Orientation, Product Knowledge, and Customer Service Excellence
  • Calendared the conduct of the core training programs to hit the targeted number of employees trained within the year
  • Controlled and monitored the budget allocated for the core training programs
  • Co-designed and co-facilitated soft skills training programs such as Effective Business Communication Skills, Time Management, and Emotional Intelligence, with Senior Training Specialists
  • Wrote facilitator guides for the core training programs and assigned modules of soft skills training programs
  • Assisted line trainers in designing skills training programs

Key Achievements:

  • 100% attainment of targeted trainees for each core training program
  • Consistently achieved excellent trainer evaluation ratings
  • Registered an average of 3.9% savings for the past three years on core training programs expenses

Below is the same work experience entry but written differently

Training Specialist
XYZ Telecommunications, Inc. 
San Francisco, California
September 2014 – December 2020

Key Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Wrote the outline and prepared the PowerPoint presentation for some training programs
  • Prepared and released the annual training calendar
  • Summarized and reported training expenses monthly
  • Assisted Senior Training Specialists in the design and delivery of selected training programs as needed
  • Provided assistance to line trainers in designing technical training programs

Key Achievements:

  • Completed all calendared training programs as scheduled
  • Minimized the cost of training
  • Consistently got high ratings in the training evaluation

Which version will appeal more to career experts?

Multiple Positions, One Employer

Your work experience might have been with just a single employer, but you had multiple jobs with them.

In such a case, you can either put the employer name at the top and list down all positions you had with them, or separate the various positions following the format described above. 

Perfecting a resume

Always Include Education Information in Your Resume

The Education section of your resume should be easy to write. 

Your academic credentials add value to your resume but should be limited to the name of the school you attended, what degree you got, and the graduation year.

Short-term courses that are relevant to the position you are applying for will also be helpful.

However, if you have no work experience, the Education Section must appear before the Work Experience section and show more details to compensate for the lack of professional experience.

Your resume must include relevant volunteer work, club or group affiliations,  and extracurricular activities to show that you have acquired some level of experience, knowledge, and skill to be helpful to the job.

Present a Combination of Hard and Soft Skills

Recruiters favor job seekers with specialized skills that match the job requirement, so you need to make your skills highly visible.

List down your skills, starting with the most relevant to the job; refer to the job description.

Identify both the hard and soft skills.

Hard skills would refer to technical skills or job-specific skills, e.g., network repair, cost management, etc.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are those that pertain to self-management and relationships with others. Examples of these skills include interaction skills, work values, etc.

Often, hiring managers pay more attention to hard skills because aside from being easier to measure and prove, employers would prefer to hire people who already have the technical skills.

Always look for keywords in the job description to help you identify what skill set is important to the potential employer. 

Perfecting a resume

Don’t Forget About the Contact Information

Your name must be centered on the topmost part of your resume. You may leave out your middle name. 

Right below your name, indicate the following “must-have” information:

Phone number

Use your personal mobile number and not your home phone number. You do not know when the potential employer will be calling, so they should reach you through your mobile phone.

Personal email address

If you are currently employed, do not use your company email address because it is unethical.  Use a formal email address consisting of your name or initials.

Avoid email addresses like [email protected]

LinkedIn URL

Since it is a platform for professionals, it is alright to include your LinkedIn profile.

Although it is acceptable nowadays to include your personal website and social media accounts as contact information, using them in your resume is optional.

Your home address is also optional information unless the job advertisement specifies otherwise.

However, you must omit the following:

Birthdate

Employment laws discourage ageism, so there is no need for you to indicate your date of birth unless required.

Second email address, mailing address, or phone number

You do not want to confuse your employer on how to get in touch with you, so stick to your primary phone number and email address.

Perfecting a resume

Key Takeaways and Additional Tips for Perfecting a Resume

More sound career advice is that you write a resume and cover letter that will set you apart from other applicants.

Aside from the step-by-step guide we gave you, we are sharing here additional tips to help you with resume-writing.

Scanners and Tracking Systems

With the automation of hiring procedures, more companies are relying on an applicant tracking system. This system scores a resume based on the keywords that match the job description.

Refer to the job description and look for keywords that match your current and past duties and responsibilities. Use those keywords in outlining your work history.

Avoid using your contact information as header and footer because resume scanners do not capture these sections.

Additional Sections

If you lack experience, you can always use a skills-based approach in your application.

Add sections to Include other information that emphasizes your fit for the job, e.g., certifications, awards, hobbies, club affiliations, and volunteer experience.

Listing down certifications is covered below in the Frequently Asked Questions section.

Awards

You may put your awards as a part of your achievements in the work history section, but if you have more than one, you could consider making them more prominent by creating a separate dedicated section.

List down all your awards in reverse chronological order.

Specify the name of each award, the year you got it, and what organization gave it to you.

These bits of information are useful when you do not have sufficient relevant work experience that matches the job.

Volunteer Work

Volunteer work should be included in the work experience section if the skill acquired is relevant to the job.

If you have several volunteer experiences, relevant or not, you may place them in a separate section. 

Perfecting a resume

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Resume?

A resume summarizes your education, skills, and work experience acquired from ten years of employment.
It is a very crucial document for job seekers because it is the hiring managers’ basis for assessing your fit for the job. 

How Long Should a Resume Be?

Ideally, a resume should be one page long, but depending on the length of your professional experience, it can go as long as two pages.
To avoid long resumes, limit the number of jobs you indicate in the Work Experience section to ten years worth of your employment, or 15 years if aiming for a top-level management post. 

How to List References on Resume?

Your list of references should be on a separate page from your resume, labeled accordingly. 
List down three references, indicating their full name, official job title, the company they work for, and their contact details.  All three must have had a professional relationship with you.

Ask the permission of your references before listing down their names

Can a Resume Be Two Pages?
A resume should fit in one page if the job applicant is a new job seeker, an entry-level candidate, or those with less than five years of work history. 

Job seekers with broader work experience can fit in their resume in two pages. 

How to List Certifications on Resume?

You have to add a new section with the heading Certifications to your resume, but only if you have relevant certifications; otherwise, you may skip this section.

Certifications present evidence of your fit for the job, but they are not the same as awards. Certifications are usually given after passing a test.

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