How to Write a Strong Resume (With Examples)Posted on
You’re not just writing a resume for a new job. Think of this piece of paper (or PDF in our new digital world) as the most important tool in your campaign for employment. To give recruiters what they’re looking for, you’ll need to understand what they pay closest attention to, how long they spend scanning your qualifications, and how to exceed their expectations. But first – why does this all matter?
Why resumes are important
A resume is the crown jewel of a job application. Why? It’s the first piece of a job application that gets reviewed by recruiters. To move past this phase and onto interviews with potential employers, your resume needs to display your top skills, show your qualifications for the role, and convince the recruiter you deserve that phone call.
What recruiters look for when reviewing your resume
Did you know that most recruiters only spend six seconds looking at you resume? During that quick review, recruiters are usually thinking:
- Can the applicant fill my need?
- Will the applicant remain with the organization long-term?
- Is the potential employee professional?
Not only are recruiters asking themselves these questions, but they’re also quickly scanning your entire resume. In these six seconds, the four areas that draw the recruiter’s eyes the most are:
- Relevant job titles
- Past work experience
- Current work experience
The heat map below from Business Insider shows recruiters’ eye movements and how quickly they dart around this important piece of paper.
How to write a strong resume
To create a stellar resume, you’ll need to pay close attention to format, education, experience, leadership, and skills.
One page. Keep your resume to one page, but don’t crowd it with too much content.
PDF. Save your resume as a PDF. This will ensure the formatting remains the same.
Negative space. Leave plenty of negative space between sections so recruiters can easily scan without feeling overwhelmed.
Consistency. To ensure your resume stays consistent, use the same type of bullets throughout, begin every sentence with an action verb, and align your text together.
Font. Use a professional font (we’re fans of Arial and Times New Roman) and stick to 12 points for easy readability.
When listing your academic credentials on your resume, be clear, concise, and well-defined. This section should highlight the most pertinent information:
- School and location
- Graduation date
- GPA (if over 3.5)
- Relevant coursework
The work experience section on your resume should relate to your desired career field. Use strong action verbs, concrete details, and quantify your accomplishments. What does this mean? Use numbers to help recruiters picture the impact you had in previous roles. Here is an example:
Before quantifying – Developed a social media strategy focused on school-life balance.
After quantifying – Developed a student marketing campaign focused on school-life balance, yielding a 32% increase in social media engagement.
Start each bullet with a strong action verb followed by clear, concise descriptions. And don’t forget to include work locations, titles, and dates for each role.
Many employers search for candidates with strong leadership experience, regardless of whether the role is in management or not. College students involved with leading student clubs and organizations on campus show commitment, determination, and support of others.
Here are some examples:
- President of Braven Club
- Director of Student Marketing
- Dance Captain
We also recommend including the leadership skills you develop in these roles.
Skills are one of the best-selling points for candidates with less work experience. And whether your experience is related to your desired role or not, you can still list transferable skills such as customer service or relationship-building.
When listing your professional skills, don’t forget to include soft skills like communication, teamwork, and critical thinking. Employers are interested in the tools and programs you know how to use, but they also want to see that you can work well with others.
Check out Muse’s 250+ Skills for Your Resume
Header & Contact Information
Last but not least, make sure you include a header with your name, phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile URL, and a portfolio website link (if you have one). We recommend placing this bar of information toward the top of your resume – this allows recruiters to quickly see your name and how to contact you.
Now that you’re all caught up on everything you need to create a stellar resume, you’re off to the races!
Check out these other great resources from Braven’s blog: