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In this Indeed Career Guide video, we share the 8 most common and impressive resume mistakes and how to avoid them.
Employers use resumes during the hiring process to learn more about applicants and whether they might be a good fit. Your CV should be easy to read – summarize your achievements and skills and highlight relevant experience.
While there are several commonly used resume styles, your resume should reflect your unique education, experience, and relevant skills. You may consider several versions of your resume tailored to the job you are applying for. Here are some key resume writing tips to help you organize and design your resume. Below are 10 tips to help you write a great resume.
Search for keywords in job postings
The best place to start preparing your resume is to carefully read the job postings that interest you. As you apply for different jobs, you should study each job description and find keywords that show what the employer is looking for in the ideal candidate. Include these keywords in your resume where relevant.
For example, if you’re applying for a job as a Medical Billing Coder, the employer might include keywords like “coding,” “claims,” ”compliance,” or “AR management” in the job description. Pay particular attention to everything listed in the sections labeled “Requirements” or “Qualifications.” If you have the skills that employers are looking for, you can add the same expressions to your resume in the experience or skills section.
Review resume examples for your industry
When creating your resume, you can review resume examples from your industry for inspiration and best practices. While there are many ways you can use sample resumes, there are three main things you should look for:
Keep it simple and easy to read. Resume samples are simple and straightforward. This is because employers have minimal time to review your resume, so readability is key. This also means choosing a professional, clean font.
Keep it brief. You’ll notice that each section of the resume sample is short and to the point, including a summary and description of experience. Including only the most key and relevant information means that employers can learn more about you and quickly understand your suitability for the role.
Include numbers. You may also notice that metrics are often included in the experience section of resume samples. This is because employers are very responsive to measurable demonstrated value. The numbers give them a better understanding of the value you can bring to the position. For example, one bullet point under the experience description for an administrative assistant reads: “Processed vendor contract processing and implemented a standardized process that reduced contract discrepancies by 90%.
When using sample resumes, you should keep in mind that they are not intended to be copied exactly. While you shouldn’t use them as a template, the samples are useful as examples of high-quality resumes in your industry and job position.
Use a professional font
Since employers only have a short time to review your resume, it should be as clear and easy to read as possible. You should use a basic, clean font such as Arial or Times New Roman. Keep the font size between 10 and 12 points. Choosing a clear and legible font will help your resume look more professional.
You should also make sure to reduce or eliminate unnecessary white space. Too much white space can make your resume seem sparse, distract your audience, and possibly raise a red flag. Additionally, reducing the white space makes it easier for the resume reader to focus only on the content of your resume instead of the white space. You can reduce the white space by increasing the font size to 12 points and possibly adding an additional, optional section such as “Skills” or “Awards and Achievements”.
Include only the most important information and put the most important first
While you may have extensive work or educational experience, it’s important to keep your resume as brief as possible without leaving out key information. Hiring managers don’t spend a lot of time reading every resume. Research has shown that hiring managers tend to spend only 6 seconds on a resume. If your resume contains old or irrelevant information, such as jobs more than 10 years ago or minor titles and accomplishments, it can distract from important information.
Try to include only the work experience, achievements, education and skills that are most relevant to the employer. You can find the most relevant attributes by carefully reading the job posting. You should prioritize important information higher on your resume to highlight key skills and accomplishments.
Use active language
Your resume should be written in active language without irrelevant words. This means using powerful words like “achieved,” “earned,” “completed,” or “accomplished.” If your resume is too long or feels difficult to read, you should consider shorter sentences or more concise ideas.
For example, you might have a job description that reads:
“During my time at Freedom Private Limited, I led several team projects and assisted each team member with the various tasks associated with each project.”
This example can be shortened and strengthened as follows:
“Lead multiple team projects and effectively coordinated group assignments.”
The revised version communicates the same ideas about your achievements while reducing the word count and including more active language.
Highlight important achievements
Instead of listing your job duties in the experience section, choose your top three or four accomplishments in each role you’ve held. Where possible, include numbers that measure your success for that particular goal or achievement.
You may also consider including a separate “Accomplishments” or “Skills” section to specifically highlight relevant accomplishments in your education, career, volunteer work, or other experiences.
Include only the subheadings and sections you need
Whether you’re using a resume template or creating your own, you may find that there are some recommended sections that you don’t need.
For example, you may need a resume summary or a resume objective, but you shouldn’t include both. If you are just graduating from college or high school and have not yet held a professional position, do not include a blank work history section. Instead, you could replace the experience section with relevant courses, academic achievements, and other experiences such as internships or extracurricular projects.
It can also be useful to combine sections if you have trouble filling out a section with more than two bullet points.
Select the appropriate margins
Typically, you should use a one-inch margin on all pages of your resume, with single line spacing. If you have too much white space, you might consider creating rows with 1.15 or 1.5 spacing. You can also increase your margins if you find your resume difficult to fill out, but they should stay under two inches.
Proofreading and editing
Before submitting your resume, you should go through several rounds of proofreading to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. While there are several proofreading programs and tools you can use, it’s also helpful to ask trusted friends or colleagues to review your resume. It’s helpful for an objective third party to look at your resume as an employer to find ways to fix or improve it.
Decide if you need a unique resume for different job positions
Before submitting any application, you should ask yourself, “Did I make it easy for this employer to see that I’m qualified?” If you’re applying for a job that has unique requirements, you may need another version of your resume to fully demonstrate your qualifications. Decide which resume to use on a case-by-case basis.
Your resume is often the first step in getting an interview with an employer. Make sure you include the most relevant information in your resume, organize it to highlight the most important information, and check it carefully for errors. Once your resume is polished and finished, it should help you get more callbacks, interviews, and job offers.