Figuring out how to write a resume that gets noticed may seem simple, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do a good job putting together a nice resume.
I had a friend send me her resume once because she was interested in an HR job at my company. She was a recruiter and seemed like a good fit for the role, so I asked her to send me her resume so I could pass it on to the hiring manager.
I was shocked when I got it. I assumed it would be a rockstar resume since all she did was look at other people’s resumes all day, but boy was I wrong.
Her resume was lacking a lot of details about her experience, details that would get her in the door for the interview, and it was poorly formatted. So if a recruiter can miss the mark on her own resume, I know many others are doing so as well!
I personally love resume writing. I find the process of writing a resume to be quite creative and challenging. You may think I’m crazy. I think most people find resume writing to be a dreadful necessary evil to getting a job.
If that’s you, then let’s tackle this together. Keep in mind there are a lot of ways to write a good resume and it can vary depending on your industry, but below are some resume writing tips to help you pursue a remote (or non-remote) job.
Start with a Qualifications Summary.
I personally don’t like the “My Objective” header on resumes. Employers aren’t really looking for your objective, they are worried about their own needs and how you can fulfill them. I prefer to start with a “Qualifications Summary” that has 2-4 sentences that highlight your relevant experience to the job you are applying for. Here’s an example:
Keep it short, tight and to the point. Highlight the key skills and experience you have that are most relevant to the role you are applying for. If you are applying for a work-from-home job, then be sure and mention any past “virtual” or “remote” experience.
Highlight core skills.
In the next section of your resume, add a section that highlights your skills in more detail. By detail, I mean a list, not a bunch of descriptive words. You want something that a recruiter or hiring manager can skim and quickly see that you have experience with the tools that may be required for the job.
Be sure and read through the job description carefully to see what skills the employer are looking for, then use the Core Skills section to mention those skills. Of course, don’t list the skill if you don’t really have it! I think that goes without saying :). Below is an example of this section.
As you can see, these are skills that are relevant for a virtual assistant position. I combined position titles (Virtual Assistant) with broader topics (Social Media) with specific tools (Canva, etc). This gives the hiring manager a well-rounded look at my skill set.
If you are applying for a remote job, then be sure and include skills that are important to a company hiring remote workers.
List your experience.
It’s time to dive into your experience! List your job history from most recent to oldest. I wouldn’t go back 20 years, stick the last 8-10 years, or longer if it makes since for your work history.
The key in this section is to highlight your experience in a way that translates to the new role you are seeking.
Look at every position you have done and pull out the skills that would be valuable to the new role. And don’t sell yourself short! If you worked in retail, then you know customer service and all that entails, such as dealing with conflict, handling different personalities types and working with a team.
Get creative (but not too creative :)) with your job experience and list the relevant information in bullet points like this:
Notice how the first word in each bullet point is a verb? Be consistent with this so it flows properly. You don’t want to do this:
- Managed expense reporting process for 100 employees
- Reviewed monthly financials for accuracy
- Accounts Payable
- Prepared and filed sales tax returns
Sticking a phrase in there that doesn’t start with a verb throws off the flow.
Let’s talk about periods for a second. Not that period, but the one at the end of sentences.
When using bullet points, either use periods or don’t use them. Just be consistent. For short sentences or lists I typically don’t use a period. For longer sentences, or if there are two sentences in one bullet point, then use periods for each bullet point.
Be mindful of using past tense versus present tense.
If you are in a job now, use present tense when describing your job duties. Use words like:
If you are describing job duties for a past job then use past tense verbs.
Sounds like captain obvious, but I’ve seen this mistake many times when I was on hiring teams and reviewing resumes. Will it kill your chance of getting a job? Maybe not, but if you are applying for a role like a bookkeeping, or proofreader or virtual assistant, you will be judged on your attention to detail.
Use hard numbers.
If you saved the company $50,000 in some way (like in my example above), then put that in your resume. Hard facts with numbers associated with them are very powerful. Here are some examples:
- Increased social media engagement by 150% over six months.
- Implemented xyz software and saved the company over $40,000 in labor costs.
- Grew the staff to over 100 employees using a strategic hiring process.
Numbers are impressive so use them when you can.
Address gaps in employment.
Have you been home raising your kids for the last four years? Maybe you freelanced off and on during that time, or maybe you were too busy changing diapers and managing your household. That is absolutely okay.
The key is to not hide or lie about the gap.
If you were home raising kids, you can either address that on your resume, or leave it off and wait to be asked about it in an interview. If asked in an interview about your gap, you can tell them you had a wonderful opportunity to be home with your kids so you took it.
But what if you weren’t raising kids, you were freelancing or pursuing a business idea. Then by all means, put that on your resume!
I did “side hustles” and freelance work along side my full-time jobs for many years. I put that on my resume because that experience was valuable and I gained skills that would help me get the jobs I truly wanted. Here is how you can address that freelance work:
Again, be honest with any gaps in employment and be prepared to answer interview questions about the gaps. If the employer is one worth working for, they will appreciate the honesty.
List education, clubs, volunteer activities and certifications
In the last section of your resume, list your education, licenses, certifications or awards that are relevant. Keep these professional. Leave off your hobbies – no one needs to know those, unless specifically asked in the job listing to include them.
Formatting is key
A clean looking resume is important to getting it read. Be sure your resume is formatted in a way that makes it easy to read. Most recruiters are going to scan it, so don’t use big blocks of test. Use bullets points and short paragraphs for easy reading.
Keep your resume to 1-2 pages if possible. More than two pages is too long. That may require you to cut off your work experience by a few years, but that’s okay if you’re capturing the last 5-10 at least.
Here is an example of a cleanly formatted resume.
There are a lot of different formats for a clean looking resume, so yours doesn’t have to look exactly like this, but if you are starting a resume from scratch then I can tell you that this format has gotten me many interviews and jobs, so it works.
Proofread. Then proofread again.
Have a friend or family member proofread your resume for you. After looking at it 50 times, it’s easy to miss simple typos or formatting errors.
Make sure your dates are accurate and spelling is correct. I was called out once by the GM of a TV news station for having a typo on my resume. I still got the job, but boy was that embarrassing!
Once you’ve formatted and proofread it, you’re ready to send it out!