4 Must-Haves for a Top-Notch Resume

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Your resume can make or break your chances of being considered for a job. It shapes the first impression you make on a potential employer, so when you’re writing it, make sure it includes the four critical elements outlined below. If you need help crafting a professional resume that turns heads, check out our resume services.

Here’s what your resume must include to give you an edge in the job race. 

1. Relevant keywords

Familiarize yourself with applicant tracking systems (ATS), which are software programs many companies use to process resumes and determine which should be passed on to a hiring manager. Since these systems can automatically cast aside resumes they deem unsuitable, unless yours is optimized for the algorithms, human eyes may never see the words you so carefully selected and put on the page. 

Generally, an ATS scans for keywords used in the job posting, then sorts and ranks the resumes. It’s important to go through the job descriptions and use keywords that apply to you in the sections about your skills, previous jobs, or awards. The more times relevant keywords appear in the resume, the better—this is the logic behind most ATS algorithms. 

Optimizing your resume with keywords will help the ATS separate it from hundreds of others, increasing your chances of being considered for a position. However, don’t forget about the person who will read your resume after it gets past the machine—you also want a document that reads smoothly and naturally to a human, so don’t go overboard with the keywords.

2. Concrete numbers

To show a future employer how your skills can help their business grow, be specific when you talk about what you've accomplished at previous jobs. This will allow a hiring manager to visualize how well you will do in the open position. 

For example, instead of saying "Led a sales team to exceed goals," say "Led a sales team of eight to increase revenue by 25% every year for four years by focusing on one-on-one training." Not only does this paint a much more vivid picture of your success, but it’s also more credible. “Led a sales team to exceed goals” is vague and could easily be stretching the truth, but concrete numbers are honest.

3. Personal brand

In today's world, how you appear online as a person can affect you as a professional, and it can help you provided that you play your cards right. If you have a website or social media profiles that show you in a good light, include the URLs with your contact information. For example, if you're applying for a position as an editor and have an online portfolio that displays your published work, share that. Maybe you're applying for a job as a mental health counselor, and you spread kindness and positivity through a Facebook group you run. 

Your personal brand can set you apart and allow a recruiter to get to know you a little better. A word of caution, though: Make sure there’s nothing shared publicly on your social media that may come back to haunt you. It’s a good idea to delete or make private any potentially compromising photos or posts.

4. Career summary

Include one or two sentences at the top of your resume that highlight your best qualifications and skills. This is another opportunity to use keywords and will make it easy for the recruiter to know what you have to offer right from the start. Think about what you most want them to know and find a way to fit that succinctly into your summary. 

Here’s an example of a career summary: "Experienced retail manager recognized for growing team sales by 50% for five years in a row.

Incorporating these four essential elements into your resume will help you stand out from the crowd and boost your chances of landing an interview. If you need more help crafting a killer resume, get in touch with our resume experts!

Improve Your Resume or CV