January 18, 2021 5 min read

A strong and good resume is your ticket in during a job search, requiring the craft of your resume writing to be top-notch. That kind of pressure on a piece of paper can be soul-crushing which is why we’re here to offer some resume help. Whether it’s resume building from the ground up or an overall resume refresh, these standards are bound to get you ahead of the competition. Within our CMA NXT community, we contacted recruiters and HR professionals on all things resume. These are the insider resume tips you’ve been looking for to help you move past ‘consideration’ and onto ‘interview’.

Skimming Your Professional Resume

If you think your resume is only read by recruiters, think again. According to Andrew Gartha, Vice President at Mandrake, resumes are read by two majorly different audiences: human beings and software programs, aka A.I. He notes that “the average time a recruiter takes to read a resume is 7.4 seconds. [While in comparison], A.I. software takes less than 2 seconds to scan a resume.” That’s what we call a short attention span.

Close up of hand holding pen with paper over pile of documents

Remember that resume competition is fierce. Recruiters and marketing managers need to get through as many resumes as possible to find the strongest candidates for their talent acquisition target. Jason Chad, Executive Recruiter at Chad Management Group, puts it like this: “Typically, a software program of some sort will interact with your resume before anyone else does. [Even after all that], I’ve spent countless hours reviewing and critiquing resumes. I’ve seen all sorts of styles, formats, and approaches.”

That’s why including resume keywords is so vital. Andrew discusses that “a resume is not a static document that one uses for every job opening you apply for. Each role in your chosen field requires slightly different skills and in certain degrees of priority. Adjust your resume to reflect the job description. Carefully dissect the job posting. Create a list of skills, knowledge, and experience required for the position that matches your experience. After you have created a list, identify the strongest matches. These will be the keywords you should use throughout your resume.”

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Your Resume Introduction

Along with keywords, the introduction to your resume is also where you need to be mindful. It’s where you put your marketing hat on so to speak. “The single most important piece of advice I give on resumes is to reinforce the fact that a resume is a marketing document.”, Mark Rouse, Partner at IQ PARTNERS Inc., confirms.

For him, the first area to scan is what he calls the ‘profile’. “[This] should be a clear summary of your strengths and successes. This is also the only area of a resume that I recommend be customized for each opportunity. Think of this as your opportunity to tell a potential employer how you are qualified to solve their problems. If the job description calls for experience in launching new products, your profile should mention your history of successfully bringing new products to market."

Resume Building = Constant Adjustments

As much as we’d like to think there is such a thing as a perfect resume, there isn’t. Don’t put that added pressure on yourself. Instead, look at it from Jason’s perspective:

Your resume does not have to be perfect – it has to be good enough to open the door for an interview. — Jason Chad

Man writing in front of laptop.

Whether applying to three jobs or twenty, make sure you take the time to understand every role. “Use that knowledge to make sure your resume is as focused as possible. If you can, use the same language/terminology and highlight key wins or relevant experiences.”, Jason recommends. Not only will this exercise give you insight into the responsibilities of the job, it will also help you make connections across past experiences and boost your confidence. Yes, you can absolutely do that job! Suddenly you’ve gone from standard to the top resume just like that.

Make sure to not fall into the trap of the recap when writing your past experiences and tasks. “You don’t have to spend too much time explaining your role to someone already familiar with that job's function.”, Jason clarifies. “It is way more important for you to include specific results and achievements that will separate you from the pack. A lot of people applying for a role will have similar work experiences. What makes you different? Why should I pick you to interview over other candidates that have had similar backgrounds?”

Need some further guidance on how to push this envelope? Mark spins it like this, “Any time you were given more responsibility, recognized, promoted, or hired a second time by a previous boss indicates that you are a high performer. A pattern of these points throughout your work history makes you a more desirable candidate.”

Resume Writing Checklist

Now that you’re in the right headspace to write your resume, here’s a quick checklist courtesy of Andrew to run through:

  • Keep your resume to two pages.
  • Include keywords from the job description.
  • Keep it simple with your profile head: in 2-3 sentences, it should encapsulate who you are as a person, what you do and what you have accomplished.
  • Avoid using strong elements (pictures, special fonts, etc.) because AI software will not read them.
  • Refer to quantitative results to demonstrate your accomplishments.
  • Provide “practical” skills first; in other words – what you can do – not who you are.
  • Provide “personal” skills second, but make sure that you prove those skills to the reader with hard facts or experience.

Don’t Forget About LinkedIn: Your Online Resume

Last but not least, tie in your resume building with your LinkedIn profile. The two components work hand-in-hand and Andrew advises to “ensure that your LinkedIn profile is more succinct than your resume and reflects it identically.”

A hand holding cell phone and logging onto LinkedIn.

That means your short profile blurb should more or less match your resume profile section. The key skills you’ve highlighted, and their corresponding accomplishments should stretch from one to the other. Your work experiences should match up. With more employers including a LinkedIn search in their process, it’s important to keep it seamless.

Need a LinkedIn crash course? Be sure to read up with our blog “How Your LinkedIn Profile Is Your Networking Playground: the Power of Social Reciprocity, Online Etiquette and So Much More”.

A Good Resume Is Just the Start

We know with all these insights your resume is going to shine and push you to the front of the crowd. You have excellent skills and high standards that are going to show; employers and recruiters will take note of the effort and level of detail. Keep at it with your resume writing and the right opportunity will be sure to bite.

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