Resume Tips: Nine Qualities of the Perfect Resume

There is no one right way to make the perfect resume, but follow these resume tips and you'll get pretty darned close.

There is no one right way to make the perfect resume, but follow these resume tips and you’ll get pretty darned close.

If you’re like most people, you really have no idea how to write a resume for a job, and therefore no idea if your resume is cutting it. Am I right?

Well, I have some bad news: your resume probably sucks and it’s probably working against you.

How do I know? Because as a headhunter, I review thousands of resumes a year, and most of them suck at making me feel great about the person they represent. Most resumes simply don’t make the cut.

On the other hand, that is also good news, because it means that you put a little effort into having an awesome resume will automatically shoot you to the top of the contenders.

So what is a perfect resume?

The best resume is the one that gets the recipient excited about you, your background and why you might be just the person they’ve been looking for.

Now, it’s important to understand that there is no one “right way” to write a resume for a job you want, but there are a few consistent signs of a great resume.

So here’s my checklist of tips on writing a resume that will really do its job. See if your resume fits these criteria:

1.  It looks clean and modern.

Resume styles change with the times just like fashion. You wouldn’t wear your 80s fashion finest to an interview, and you shouldn’t use a 80s style resume format. Choose a clean design that’s in line with 21st century design aesthetics. Unless you’re in a traditionally conservative industry like law or investment banking, avoid old-fashioned fonts like Times New Roman and instead, opt for a sans-serif font like Arial or Tahoma.

2.  It’s targeted for a specific job.

You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: one size does NOT fit all when it comes to resumes. If your resume does not show that you have exactly what that specific job requires, you won’t make it into the interview group. Period. You must tailor your resume for each job.

3.  It instantly positions you with a headline.

The days of the objective are dead, dead, dead. What works now is a headline that instantly communicates that you are what they want. Don’t make them dig through a convoluted summary to figure out what you do. Put it top and center, and then everything else will be read with that in mind.

4.  It highlights your superpowers.

We all have superpowers, which are those special talents and abilities we can take with us from job to job. For instance, mine include listening for what’s behind what people are saying (which is why I’m a great coach), and creating beautifully written and designed documents (which is why I’m a great resume writer). You have unique talents, skills and innate abilities that are going to be the reason you are chosen instead of someone else. Make it obvious what they are.

5.  It shows your personality.

Dry, boring resumes are for dry, boring people, and that is probably not you. Forget the formal corporate-speak and let some of your personality shine through. Are you funny and a little goofy? Warm and fuzzy? Flexible? Confident and poised? Let those qualities be reflected in your resume. The more of the real you that comes through, the more likely you are to get the interview.

6.  It’s easy to visually scan for key information.

No one actually reads your resume, you know. (Ouch, huh?) The average resume gets about 15 seconds of attention by a human before deciding if it gets a deeper read, which means a second scan. Recruiters scan for company names, job titles and dates first, so make sure that information is easy to spot.

7.  It’s written in natural language.

Many people seem to lose their ability to speak in plain English when faced with a resume, but the truth is that convoluted corporate-speak with lots of technical terms and acronyms makes you appear less interesting, not more professional. Write with a natural voice, so the reader has a sense of the person behind the words.

8.  It gives context for your jobs.

Sure, people want to know your job title and what you did, but understanding the company and the situation are critical, too.  The best resumes give context by including a line or two about what the company you work for does and where you fit into it. Don’t assume we know, and don’t make us go hunting online to find out more about the company you worked for; busy recruiters are likely to just move on to the next person, and you’ve lost your opportunity.

9.   It highlights your wins.

You’ll be hired because of what you can do as well as what you’ve already done in other jobs. Mediocre resumes list job responsibilities. The best resumes highlight how your work made a difference for the company and show your accomplishments and wins.

Again, no two resumes are alike, but if you can get your resume to fit these criteria, and you apply to jobs where your qualifications fit what they’re looking for, you’re going to instantly put yourself at an advantage over your competition.

And if you’re still not sure, check out my Resume Review service, where I’ll take a look at your personal marketing brochure…. um… I mean, resume… for you and let you know where it’s strong, where it’s less than it could be, and how you can turn it into the perfect resume for the job you want.  (Heck, even better, let me do it for you.)

Comments are closed.