It is a well-known fact that recruiters are inundated with a deluge of resumes to such an extent that they are increasingly reliant on applicant tracking software.
While the fundamentals of writing a resume have remained – it is imperative to craft a resume that complies with advancements in technology.
The best resume practices include pertinent contact details, a LinkedIn profile, career summary, work experience, education, and transferrable skills. An easy-to-read, consistent Word file format, standard font, bulleted paragraphs with quantifiable facts, limited to 2 pages.
While crafting a resume that will pass the AI bots and get you noticed by hiring managers might sound straightforward, there are several pertinent factors to consider.
So, I have compiled a candid guide with my eight best resume practices to catapult your career to new heights.
- 1. The best resume format to use in 2021
- 2. What should my resume look like?
- 3. Five things to avoid if you want the best resume
- 6. What must I include in my resume?
- 7. The ideal length for a resume
- 8. What should not be included in my resume?
- How must I describe my work experience on a resume?
- What should I do before I submit my new resume?
1. The best resume format to use in 2021
It is well-known that 98 % of Fortune 500 companies use AI-based software to review the deluge of applications in a highly competitive US job market. Therefore, 75% of submitted resumes are never seen by hiring managers.
To “beat the bots,” there are several factors to consider, so let’s start with the basics first: your chosen format.
While all resumes should include contact details, a summary statement, skills, professional experience, education, and other relevant information, the format might differ.
Before you decide on a resume format, consider your professional background, including the type of position you would like to apply for. When deciding how to craft the perfect resume the three predominant formats are:
Chronological resume formats
- A reversed-chronological order resume that starts with your most recent position
- Perfect if you have a steady career history
- Not ideal if you have several employment gaps or want to move into another industry
Functional resume formats
- Focused on transferable skills and achievements that apply to a specific role.
- Perfect if you have several employment breaks in your resumes or want to change careers
Combination/hybrid resume formats
- This format is a combination of the functional and chronological resume styles.
- It highlights both your professional experience and transferable skills.
2. What should my resume look like?
Now that you have hopefully chosen a suitable format, it’s time to have a more in-depth look at how to craft your perfect resume.
Choose a standard font – while choosing your font is a personal choice, stick to the standard, AI-friendly font like Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman, Garamond, or Helvetica in size 11.
Consistency is key – ensure that you stick to the same format throughout your resume. E.g., all bullet points should either have a period in the end or not if you prefer.
Quantify excessively – back up your achievements with quantifiable supportive data that is number or percentage-based. So instead of saying: “I reduced operational expenditure year on year, say: reduced operational expenditure with 60% year on year.
Brag a little – if you received a performance bonus for a job well done or worked closely with a well-known senior executive, include that in your resume.
Creativity –the level of creativity should be dependent on the industry that you work in. While creative resume outlays are great for designers, they are not suitable for more traditional roles. Furthermore, they are not AI-compliant resumes.
Job requirements – if you are preparing your resume for many job applications, focus on your transferrable skills or scrutinize a job description and include the keywords or relevant phrases in your resume.
3. Five things to avoid if you want the best resume
There are a few critical things to keep in mind when you start to compile your resume.
The top 5 resume mistakes to avoid:
- Spelling and grammatical errors – numerous recruiters will not consider resumes with spelling or grammatical errors. So, use your spell check and ask a friend to proofread it. Alternatively, you can also use a plain language to avoid mistakes.
- Past/future tense – if you refer to a previous job, use the past tense (directed, organized, managed). For a current role, use the present tense (directing, organizing, managing).
- First-person pronouns – avoid using words like me or I at all costs. Instead of saying: “I directed a team of 500 consultants”, say: “directed a team of 500 consultants.”
- Avoid elaborate formatting – applicant tracking software cannot read the following: photos, colored words, bold text, underlining, charts, tables, or custom bullets (circular/square bullets are acceptable).
- Headers and footers – AI bots cannot read the information in headers or footers, so list important contact information in the body of your resume.
6. What must I include in my resume?
All effective resumes are organized in the same way, making them more accessible for recruiters to navigate.
The following information must always be included:
- Contact details
- A LinkedIn profile link
- A profile/job summary
- Your work history
- Transferrable key skills
Include additional information:
- A professional development section for courses, projects, or business coaching information.
- Portfolio links
7. The ideal length for a resume
There has been much debate about the ideal length, but it is not a straightforward matter.
- Less than five years: a one-pager will suffice if it contains all your relevant information.
- Seasoned professionals: use a 2-page resume that provides a brief, high-level career overview.
8. What should not be included in my resume?
Refrain from including all the work you have done in your resume if it is not relevant to the job or industry in which you would like to work.
Avoid using your precious resume “retail space” to list your references unless a recruiter specifically requests that you include them in your resume at the beginning of a hiring process.
How must I describe my work experience on a resume?
The most imperative component of your resume is the work experience section, as most recruiters focus on that.
- Experienced: if you are a seasoned professional, reduce your work experience section to the last 10-15 years. The only caveat to that unspoken rule pertains to senior executives if a longer resume illustrates their wealth of experience.
- Bullets: to ensure that your resume is concise, restrict the number of respective work experience descriptive bullet points down to 6 per engagement.
- Career gaps: most notably, include a brief explanation in your work experience section if you have any extended career gaps.
What should I do before I submit my new resume?
Your resume should look great by now! However, before submitting your resume to a hiring manager, follow my step-by-step guide to ensure success.
Step 1: Proofread your resume backward from the last page to the first for spelling and grammatical errors (a tried and tested proofreading tip).
Step 2: Ensure that your resume is AI Bot compliant by saving a version of your resume in a plain text file format to see what it would look like.
Step 3: While PDF formats are ideal for retaining the layout of your resume, instead use a Word file format if you are applying to a Fortune 500 company. However, if you may submit your resume in a PDF format – go for it!
Step 4: Always name your submitted resume with the following format: Name, Surname, Resume, and Date.
While the job market has become more competitive, and AI can determine our fate in the recruitment process – adhering to resume best practices is vital to your future success.
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