Create a Killer Resume and Cover Letter

Resume Secrets: 7 Must-Have Qualities Employers Seek

We may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

Your resume serves as the first (and potentially, the final) point of contact with hiring managers seeking to fill an open position. If it fails to grab their attention, the chances of securing an interview dwindle. It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to be inundated with hundreds of resumes in response to a single job posting. To pare down the overwhelming number of applications to a manageable shortlist, hiring managers often discard resumes that don’t meet their specific criteria.

Some guidelines for your resume:

1. Concise style

As a first step, many resumes are scanned rather than read word for word, at least on the first go-through. That means that keeping things concise and precise will help boost your chances of getting your resume into the interview pile. Unless you have loads of relevant work experience, aim to keep your resume to one page. You can always add extra relevant details in a cover letter or at an interview.

2. Outcomes and results

Prospective employers are interested in more than just your previous workplaces; they want to understand the impact you’ve made. Highlight specific achievements and results, whether it’s increased website traffic, successful project completion, or a certain sales volume. Aim to provide at least one tangible accomplishment for each job you list, demonstrating your ability to drive success.

3. Action verbs

Instead of merely stating your past roles, focus on articulating the actions you took. Whether you spearheaded promotions, mentored teams, recruited talent, drove sales, or devised innovative strategies, using action verbs brings vibrancy and focus to your resume. These verbs effectively spotlight what truly interests employers – your past achievements and potential contributions to their organization.

Your resume is the first thing (and potentially, the last thing) that hiring managers see when trying to fill an open position.  If your resume doesn't get the hiring manager's attention, you will not get an interview.Click To Tweet

4. Numbers

Including measurable results in your resume, where applicable, can powerfully boost its efficacy. These metrics provide potential employers with a more tangible understanding of your past achievements. Perhaps you escalated sales by 50%, developed a social media marketing approach that earned your company 1,000 Facebook likes or identified an economical service provider leading to substantial cost savings. Endeavor to express your paramount accomplishments in terms of specific figures and percentages, weaving a persuasive account of your career trajectory.

5. Increasing responsibility

Listing each role you’ve held, including those involving slight shifts or incremental responsibility with the same employer, is beneficial when creating your resume. By doing so, you underscore any promotions and illustrate the steady expansion of your responsibilities, effectively signaling to potential employers your consistent capability to handle more complex roles. This not only demonstrates your adaptability and leadership potential but also suggests that your previous employers appreciated your skills and contributions. Such indications of your work ethic and commitment can be particularly influential. Furthermore, this strategy elucidates your career progression, providing potential employers with a clear understanding of your preparedness to take on new responsibilities and challenges.

6. Solutions

This is your opportunity to customize your resume and cover letter to meet the specific needs of your prospective employer. Carefully scrutinize the job description and research the company thoroughly. If you can identify current challenges the company is facing, endeavor to demonstrate how your skills and experience can offer effective solutions. Share instances where you’ve resolved similar problems in the past. Even if it isn’t possible to directly incorporate these problem-solving examples into your resume, strive to highlight your relevant skills and experiences that qualify you to tackle similar issues within the company.

7. Honors

Be sure to include any accolades you’ve received as an employee (or student, if you’re a recent graduate). Additionally, if you’ve received commendations in your most recent employee review, consider including those results. Even being recognized as the employee of the month at a fast-food restaurant you worked at during school can highlight your work ethic and dedication. These honors and acknowledgments demonstrate your commitment to your work and can provide valuable insights into your character as a diligent employee.

A few other things employers might look at

While you’re polishing up your resume, you might also want to take a look at some other aspects of your life that a potential employer might pry into before hiring you. Here are some things to look at:

  • Your Credit Report: Your credit report isn’t just used by lenders to gauge your financial responsibility. Depending on your state law and local regulations, it can also be used by potential employers to gauge how responsible you are with your life in general. A clean credit report can make the difference between getting hired and not getting hired. Pull a copy of your report before sending out resumes to make sure it’s error-free. If you have a load of debt, consider transferring it to low-cost credit cards and paying it down quickly to clean up your report a bit.
  • Your Social Media Profile: Your internet reputation has a lot to do with your hire-ability these days. Clean up your photos and posts, and run a Google search on yourself (see Are Your Social Media Habits About to Cost You Your Job?) to make sure nothing too unsavory comes up. Photos of or posts about having a couple of drinks on a night out shouldn’t hurt you unless you’re applying to a religious or non-profit organization that’s very picky about reputation, but you should remove everything that might suggest you like to party hard or that you have recently made poor life choices. More and more employers are checking up on social media, so make sure it’s under control before you apply!

Additional Resources

The Elements of Resume Style: Essential Rules for Writing Resumes and Cover Letters That Work

The Elements of Resume Style by Scott Bennett is a practical guide to writing a resume that stands out. The book offers clear and concise advice on everything from formatting to content, with tips on how to highlight your achievements and accomplishments. Bennett also provides advice on how to craft a compelling cover letter that complements your resume. One of the unique features of this book is that it includes examples of poorly written resumes and cover letters, along with explanations of what went wrong and how to avoid similar mistakes. Overall, “The Elements of Resume Style” is a valuable resource for anyone looking to create a polished and effective resume.

The Elements of Resume Style: Essential Rules for Writing Resumes and Cover Letters That Work
$14.99 $10.49

Building your résumé should be one of the easier parts to the whole job-interview process. But instead it’s becoming increasingly stressful as well! 

Buy on
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
05/27/2024 05:56 pm GMT

The Damn Good Resume Guide: A Crash Course in Resume Writing

The Damn Good Resume Guide by Yana Parker is a classic book that has been helping job seekers create great resumes for over thirty years. The book provides practical advice on everything from formatting to content, with a focus on crafting a resume that tells a compelling story about your skills and experiences. Parker also provides guidance on how to tailor your resume to different job postings and includes examples of successful resumes from a variety of industries. One of the unique features of this book is that it includes a chapter on how to handle resume gaps, which can be a challenging issue for many job seekers. Overall, “The Damn Good Resume Guide” is a must-read for anyone looking to create a resume that stands out.

The Damn Good Resume Guide, Fifth Edition: A Crash Course in Resume Writing

For hundreds of thousands of job seekers, The Damn Good Resume Guide has been the go-to resource for writing and refining their resumes to damn near perfection. Filled with savvy advice and written in a straightforward, user-friendly style, The Damn Good Resume Guide will help you zero in on that dream job.

Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
05/27/2024 01:01 pm GMT

Resume Magic

Resume Magic by Susan Britton Whitcomb is an excellent resource for anyone looking to create a standout resume. The book offers practical tips and trade secrets from a professional resume writer, with a focus on crafting a resume that tells a compelling story about your skills and experiences. Highly recommended.

Resume Magic, 4th Ed: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer (Resume Magic: Trade Secrets ...
$20.95 $5.97
Learn More
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
05/28/2024 09:10 am GMT

What's next?

home popular resources subscribe search

You cannot copy content of this page