It’s well known that building a strong resume can be a daunting task. However, it’s incredibly important that you invest the time upfront so that you make your best first impression. Do it right the first time, and then all you’ll have to do is update your information from time to time and tailor it based on job descriptions you’re researching.

Keep in mind that when you’re writing your resume that you are also selling your brand. What is the purpose of the resume if not to speak to your accomplishments and outstanding outcomes? This is one of the few times it’s perfectly acceptable to brag. There is no room for modesty in this pursuit. Just remember: do it right.

Let’s look at 5 critical tips to build your resume that go beyond the ubiquitous how to write a resume 101 articles uncovered through Google search. These tips will prepare you to highlight your skills and accomplishments and the most impressive version of your relevant experience.

1. Be specific

How you accomplished something is arguably more important that what you accomplished. When you’re creating the content for your work history and education sections, include information such as your day-to-day processes, leadership opportunities, and accountability skills for managing projects. These will help you demonstrate the skills hiring managers are looking for and the value you bring to the table.

2. Quantify results wherever and whenever possible

When you’re describing goals you’ve accomplished in previous work experience, be sure to tie the goal back to numbers. In other words, if you put a process in place that created efficiency and eliminated errors, what was the financial impact of that new process?

chart for accomplishments at work

For example, a reduced error rate from 10% to 2% in your first 90 days may have saved your organization $200,000/yr.

3. Choose bullets over paragraphs

The goal of a resume is to highlight your abilities in the most efficient and effective way possible. Use direct and clear bullet points to describe your previous job titles, responsibilities, and accomplishments. The goal is to use the least amount of words possible to most effectively deliver your message while still being thorough and specific. Using bullet points helps to create the all-important white space as well, which serves to make your resume more readable.

4. Tailor your resume 

This does not always require extensive editing, but it is an essential – and often overlooked – step. Employers can tell when a resume is being pumped out versus one that is tailored for a position. The extra effort can go a long way in getting attention.

Avoid using the same resume template, same language, and same approach. Use specific job descriptions to create appropriate and thorough responses to employers’ needs.

5. Don’t sell yourself short

It can be easy to screen yourself out of opportunities before you apply because you don’t have management experience or haven’t previously led as many employees as is required. Keep in mind that a combination of skills from different positions can add up to a reasonable presentation of your skills for a position slightly out of reach.

For example, you may not have ever had a manager title, but maybe you’ve been responsible for teaching, training, and educating new hires. What about when the boss is out: did you step into the manager role as needed? Does your current/previous boss lean on you for special projects and give you leadership responsibilities outside your position description? Be sure to paint that picture of your leadership in your work and skills sections.

The final touches 

When you’ve put these tips to work, be sure to have a trusted outside set of eyes with strong grammar and style skills look it over and provide feedback. We often miss things that could be better because we get so close to what we’re writing.

Keep in mind that that your resume and cover letter are not about having; instead, they are more so about doing. Touting titles, credentials, and degrees within your resume is a given, but expanding on the details of how you got there and your accomplishments because of the knowledge gained is a more solid strategy for job hunting success.

Did that outstanding resume get you a job interview? Great! Let’s look at how to best prepare for your interview.

woman at job interview

 

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