Resume Writing Tips and Best Practices in 2023: A Comprehensive Guide
Are you looking to make a move and land your dream job in 2023? Your resume is the key to unlock the door to new career opportunities. With competition in the job market being fiercer than ever, it’s crucial to create a standout resume that impresses employers. In this article, I’ll share the latest resume writing tips, best practices, resume advice, and guidelines that’ll arm you with the knowledge on building a strong resume that helps you land interviews.
Resume Writing Tips – The Fundamentals
Choose the Right Format
When crafting your resume, the first step is selecting the most appropriate format. The three main resume formats are chronological, functional, and hybrid. Consider your work history, skills, and the job you’re applying for when selecting the best format for your resume. In most cases, the trend is that the hybrid format produces the greatest results but this may not be the best choice based on your strategy and background.
Use a Clear and Simple Layout
An easy-to-read resume is essential for capturing an employer’s attention. Make sure your resume uses a simple, consistent, and clear layout with plenty of white space, clear headings, and bullet points for better readability. At one time color was frowned upon but you can certainly use a blend for areas to stand out. Just make sure the color is readable such as navy or charcoal.
Optimize Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
Most companies use ATS to screen resumes. Ensure that your resume is optimized for these systems by using relevant keywords from the job posting and avoiding the use of images, tables, and fancy fonts. In some ATS platforms, they also cannot read text boxes or columns. If you are using an acronym remember to also spell it out. For example, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).
You will also want to use the standard wording for headings such as Education, Work Experience (or Professional Experience) so the ATS can easily identify and categorize the information. Finally, you will want to avoid tables and graphics: while these may look visually appealing, they can be challenging for an ATS to parse. Instead, use plain text to describe your skills and accomplishments.
Crafting a Compelling Resume – The Content
Write a Strong Professional Summary
Your professional summary is a brief overview of your qualifications, experience, and skills. It should be tailored to the job you’re applying for and should showcase your most relevant qualifications and accomplishments. The length can vary but in general about 4 sentences is a great length to target. Remember, this is not an objective statement. Make sure you use some great descriptors or action words to increase engagement such as Versatile leader, Dynamic business driver, Accomplished business transformer.
Highlight Your Relevant Professional Work Experience
List your professional experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job. Focus on accomplishments and use action verbs to describe your responsibilities. Quantify your achievements with numbers, percentages, or other metrics to demonstrate your impact. Oftentimes, you may want to include a one sentence description of the company to show size or industry – especially if it is a lesser known organization.
Showcase Your Skills
Your skills section should include both hard and soft skills relevant to the job you’re applying for. Review the job posting to identify the most important skills and ensure they’re prominently featured on your resume. Additionally, you can google the job title to get hints on what’s typical for that type of role. For example, if it is a Marketing Specialist role you may want to include Marketing Strategy, Digital & Print Marketing, or Marketing Campaign Management.
Include Your Education
Include your educational background, including degrees and relevant coursework. If you’re a recent graduate, you may want to place your education section above your work experience. If you are currently in progress with your degree, list your anticipated graduation date. In general (but not always), you can remove the years you attended after 2-3 years in the workforce (unless specified in the job description to include all years).
Incorporate Achievements/Awards and Certifications
Including achievements and awards on your resume can set yourself apart from the competition. Mention any relevant awards, honors, or recognition you’ve received, especially if they’re related to the job you’re applying for.
Additionally, if you hold any certification, ensure you spell the certification out in addition to using the abbreviation. Such as: Project Management Professional (PMP).
The Finishing Touches
Edit and Proofread Your Resume
Spelling and grammatical errors can leave a negative impression on employers. Carefully proofread your resume and consider having a second set of eyes or my favorite editing tool, Grammarly to run your resume through to see if there are issues.
If you are unfamiliar with Grammarly, it is a fabulous tool that corrects grammar, spelling, and if you upgrade to premium, also helps with writing clarity, delivery, and engagement. I personally have it running in the background on my Chrome Browser in addition to having the add-on for Microsoft Word. It’s a definite game changer whether you use the free or premium platform.
Customize Your Resume for Each Job Application
Tailor your resume to each job you apply for by emphasizing your most relevant qualifications, skills, and experiences. This will increase your chances of passing through the ATS and impressing employers.
Resume Best Practices
Keep Your Resume Concise
Aim for a resume length of one to two pages, as employers typically spend only a few seconds reviewing each resume. Be concise and focus on your most relevant qualifications and accomplishments.
Use a Professional Email Address
Make sure your email address appears professional, using your first and last name or a combination of your initials. Try not to have your birth year as part of your email address.
Use Action Verbs
Using action verbs like “managed,” “created,” or “implemented” can make your resume more engaging and dynamic. Replace passive language with strong action verbs to demonstrate your accomplishments.
Consider Including a Cover Letter
A cover letter allows you to provide additional context and showcase your passion for the role. Always include a tailored cover letter when applying for a job, as it can enhance your application and help you stand out from the competition. When writing a cover letter keep it concise, typically nothing longer than one page. Additionally, showcase your unique value including a few bullets that you would consider notable achievements and align with the role you’re applying. You will also want to show your enthusiasm for the company and ensure you focus on what interests you such as the industry, their mission/vision/values, or products/services. Finally, end the cover letter with a call to action, thank the reader for considering your application and express your interest in discussing your qualifications further.
Include Relevant Keywords
Using relevant keywords from the job posting throughout your resume can improve your chances of passing through ATS and capturing the attention of hiring managers. Look for keywords in the job description and requirements, and incorporate them into your resume naturally.
Use Consistent Formatting
Maintain a consistent font, font size, and formatting style throughout your resume. This will ensure a polished and professional appearance. Stick to simple, easy-to-read fonts like Calibri or Cambria.
Avoid Personal Pronouns
Steer clear of personal pronouns (I, me, my) in your resume. Instead, write in third person and focus on your accomplishments and skills.
Prioritize Important Information
Place the most critical information, such as your professional summary, at the top of your resume. This will help to grab the attention of hiring managers and ensure they don’t miss the most important details.
Use Numbers and Metrics
Quantify your accomplishments and skills with numbers, percentages, or other metrics to demonstrate your value. For example, “Increased sales by 25% in the first quarter” or “Managed a team of 15 customer service representatives.”
Include Relevant Links
If you have an online portfolio, professional blog, or LinkedIn profile, consider including a link on your resume. This will allow employers to learn more about you and your work, further demonstrating your qualifications for the job.
More about ATS:
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are software solutions designed to streamline and automate the recruitment process for organizations. These systems are essential tools for human resources (HR) departments and hiring managers, as they help in managing the entire recruitment workflow, from posting job advertisements to scheduling interviews and making hiring decisions.
At its core, an ATS serves as a centralized database for storing and organizing candidate information, such as resumes, cover letters, and application forms. The system allows recruiters to easily search, sort, and filter through these candidate profiles, enabling them to identify potential matches for job openings quickly and efficiently. Additionally, ATSs can be integrated with job boards and social media platforms to promote job vacancies and attract a diverse pool of candidates.
One of the primary benefits of using an ATS is its ability to parse and analyze resumes, extracting relevant information such as skills, experience, and education. By leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms, these systems can evaluate and rank candidates based on their suitability for a particular position. This feature helps recruiters narrow down their list of candidates and focus on the most promising applicants. What this means for the candidate is that if you are applying online, you will be firstly analyzed by a software before your resume is seen by a human.
With these resume writing tips, best practices, resume advice, and guidelines, you’re well on your way to crafting a standout resume that will impress potential employers in 2023. Remember to tailor your resume for each job application, optimize it for ATS, and showcase your most relevant skills and experiences. A polished, well-crafted resume will help you stand out in the competitive job market and increase your chances of landing your dream job. Good luck with your job search!
About Simply Great Resumes
Simply Great Resumes is an Executive and Professional Resume Writing Service located in Milwaukee who partners with business leaders and emerging professionals within Global Fortune 500, large private, mid-sized, and start-up enterprises since 2012.
A solopreneur business, Simply Great Resumes is owned by Kerry Gustafson, a recognized, award-winning professional who holds industry-leading certifications – Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), Certified Career Coach (CPCC), and Certified Interview Coach (CIC) through the first association for career professionals in the world, PARW/CC. Dedicated to partnering and delivering on client career goals and branding strategies, Gustafson holds an incredible industry-high referral rate of over 90% year-over-year – a testament to the results she delivers and value she provides to her high-performing clients.