Knowledge Leader

Presence on Paper: Resume Writing Tips

Melanie Kollmai
by Melanie Kollmai
Sr. Recruiter: Technology and Creative

Resume writing tips that will help you stand out from the crowd

As a Technical Recruiter for a global consulting firm, iSoftStone, and former University Recruiter for Microsoft, I have reviewed thousands of resumes. In fact, hundreds come across my screen every day. Unfortunately, candidates who may be highly qualified are often overlooked by recruiters because they do not represent themselves well on paper. By paying attention to detail and style, as well as tailoring your resume to specific job descriptions, you are more likely to get noticed, considered and hired. I’ve included a few of my favorite resume writing tips below. As a recruiting insiders, I know these tips will help you get your resume noticed and get you on your way to landing your dream job!

1. Use bullet points

One of the key resume writing tips I tell candidates first is to use bullet points instead of paragraphs. It is much easier to read your qualifications in a brief, yet poignant format. Think of your resume as an executive brief on why we should consider you. Remember, we view hundreds of resumes a day and if yours resembles an essay, there is less likelihood we will take the time to read through the density. You don’t want to distract your reader from the content of your resume, so keep it simple.

2. Short, but sweet

Be concise and strategic. Think of this like your elevator pitch. Most people take less than 30 seconds to scan a resume. If they don’t see assessable results in an easy-to-read format with keywords quickly, they lose interest. This is also true of old technologies. If you’re a developer, keep your technologies current and relevant to the job you are applying for; eject anything outdated which date your skillet. Same with previous positions. You don’t need to list every single position you’ve ever held. What’s most important is any jobs that have prepared you or given you the skills you need present day. Show me (simply) why you’re the best fit.

3. Tailor-made

This might seem obvious to some, but surprisingly is lost on most. No job or company is exactly identical to another, and thus no resume should be completely identical. Have different resumes for different job titles of interest. Use the job description to guide what’s relevant to include in your resume. I’d suggest even going as far as changing the verbiage in your resume to match that of the job description. Each resume should parallel the skill sets and accomplishments relevant to the specific job for which you are applying. When a recruiter can look at a job description and find direct overlap with a candidate’s resume, it makes them a stronger contender.

4. Show, don’t tell

In the tech-savvy world we live in today, including links to your professional page(s), whether it’s LinkedIn, a personal portfolio or website etc., are extremely helpful for your recruiter. If we see a resume we like, there is a 99% chance we are going to look up your specialized profiles. Make it easier for us! Especially if you have recommendations and highlights to share. If you don’t have a professional page, create one. This is a great place to go in-depth about what makes you a great hire. It’s also a way to differentiate yourself from individuals competing for the same job. Recruiters love seeing a candidates unique personality displayed in a specialized profile.

5. Metrics, metrics and more metrics

Most employers are looking to hire people who are going to save them time and/or make them money. This is the section of your resume that will likely be paid the most attention. That’s why I cannot stress enough the importance of using quantifiable metrics. Quantifiable metrics are examples that show how you exceeded goals against others on your team with the same responsibilities. This will quickly show employers your effectiveness.

6. No pictures, please

Remember, employers want to remain unbiased and strategic about whom they hire. The only factor that should matter is how suited you are for the position. Unless your photo somehow relates to the job at hand, let’s leave the headshots for models and actors. If we want to see what you look like, we’ll just check out your LinkedIn page.

7. Story time

A grammatical error or misspelling on your resume can leave a bad taste in an employer’s mouth. This is especially true if you’re going for a job that requires impeccable literacy. Mistakes are unfortunate and likely forgivable, but a tip to help you catch these errors is to read your resume aloud. You’re more likely to spot the mistake when you read your resume out loud to yourself or to a friend. Having a friend read your resume to you will also give you a fresh perspective. It’s always good to double and triple check!