Putting together a resume can be a daunting task—especially for high schoolers who have yet to enter the job market. The resume is an important piece of collateral in any student’s toolbox, as it is a summary of one’s academic and professional identity. It is constantly edited and iterated on as one progresses through their educational and professional journeys. Thus, it is crucial to make sure your resume is up-to-date and communicates your value as an employee. Resumes can differ based on the industry or role you are in, but most resumes contain the same elements: contact information, education, work experience, and skills.
Here are 5 rules to follow when crafting the perfect resume, as well as a few tips for each:
Keep it concise
- Stay within one page: Resumes are typically kept to a maximum of one page. Hiring managers are required to go through a multitude of resumes, which means that they spend a very short amount of time reviewing each one. Making it easy to read can be advantageous for you—especially if it is easy for recruiters to quickly take away your key skills and experiences.
- Keep your resume up-to-date: As you move along in your career, it is not uncommon to take away older and more irrelevant experiences to fit newer ones on top. Most resumes are organized in a reverse chronological order, with the most recent experience at the top. This ensures that employers can view your work history. An unwritten rule when it comes to college-level resumes is to not have high school experiences by junior or senior year, but there are exceptions.
Tailor it to the position
- Highlight key skills from the job description: It may be tedious to have to edit your resume each time you apply to a different job, but doing so can make you look like a great fit. Review the required skills that are listed in the job description and see if you have any experiences that can highlight those particular skills and add those keywords in your resume.
- Include a cover letter if asked: Cover letters are usually not required, but some positions might require one in order to submit your application. A cover letter is a document used to introduce yourself to the employer and provide more context around your background and qualifications for the role. It is also advised to include not only how you can help the company, but how the company can help you as well; by using details specific to the company you are applying for, it shows them that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in the position.
- Optimize for applicant tracking systems (ATS): Some companies use ATS software in their recruitment process to manage the applications they receive. This adds an automated touch to the process, so some things that might have been caught by a human eye might be glossed over by the software. Many ATS softwares use keywords to help identify and filter resumes from applicants with fitting experiences—highlighting the previous tip about including keywords from the job description. They are also sensitive to different types of formatting, which leads us to the next point.
Pay attention to formatting
- Stick to a standard font: Fonts like Times New Roman, Helvetica, and Cambria are commonly used for resumes because they are easy to read. Avoid using fancy or decorative fonts, as they decrease readability. For some employers that might use an ATS, more intricate fonts will have difficulty getting through the system; this might cause your resume to be skipped.
- Use section headers: Section headers help separate information on the page, making it easier for recruiters to parse information. It is helpful to bold the section headers and make a few font sizes bigger than the body text.
- Avoid using font sizes that are too large or too small: Standard resume font sizes are between 10-12 points. Using a large font can make it appear as if you are trying to fill up the page, whereas having a small font can make your resume look cluttered and overwhelming.
Demonstrate value in your experiences
- Use numbers to quantify your achievements: Having metrics is the best way to show your impact in an organization. Take these two examples: “Demonstrated leadership skills by managing a team and improving productivity” versus “Improved productivity by 10% through management of a team of 5 employees”. Both statements communicate the same thing (your leadership skills), but the latter’s metric makes it more impactful because it is measurable. It helps provide context to your experience, demonstrating that you are results-driven.
- Use action verbs: Action verbs describe specific actions or tasks, providing more color to your experiences as a professional. These words can help your resume stand out to recruiters because they are more compelling than your standard resume words. Examples of action verbs are: spearheaded, implemented, launched, amplified, and mobilized. Here are 185 more.
Proofread, proofread, proofread
- Avoid typos: Having typos in your resume makes it seem unprofessional and can reflect poorly on you as a potential employee. A resume free of errors can communicate to the employer your attention to detail and commitment to producing high-quality work.
- Check that your formatting is consistent: If you end your bullet point with a period, the rest of your bullet points should also do the same. The same goes for font sizes; keep your section headers and body text their respective sizes. Consistency and cohesiveness is key, as it helps present an image of professionalism.
How Student Hires Can Help With Your Resume
Student Hires aims to educate students in areas related to career development. We provide one-of-a-kind programs for students to explore different careers and gain relevant experience before transitioning into entry-level roles. Our workforce development programs prepare students for future careers in a variety of Career Technical Education sectors. Check out our previous blog that shows you how to create a stand-out resume as a high school student, complete with a downloadable template.
Job Fair Blog Series
Student Hires will be holding a resume review booth at the Riverside Job Fair on Tuesday, January 31. The fair will be from 4:30 – 7:30pm at the Galleria at Tyler. Come join us there!
Leading up to the job fair, we will be publishing a new article each week in our Job Fair Blog Series. Below are the articles:
- 5 Tips for Crafting the Perfect Resume
- Elevator Pitches: Everything Students Should Know
- Dress for Success: 4 Tips On How to Dress for a Job Interview
- Networking 101: Tips on How to Build Your Professional Network
- The Power of LinkedIn: 6 Tips on Building a Good LinkedIn Profile
- Ace Any Job Interview With These 6 Tips
- 5 Important Things To Do After a Job Fair
Your resume helps communicate your professional journey to employers and is a way for you to show off all your accomplishments. That’s why it is imperative to construct a resume that is representative of your experiences and that you can be proud of. If you keep the tips listed in this article in mind, you’ll be off to a great start!