Answers to your Top Resume Questions

Creating a great resume is as much art as it is science. Here are answers to five common questions that job seekers have about writing the perfect resume.

1. How can I tailor my resume to the job I’m applying for?

Having a master resume that encompasses all your experience and skills is considered a best practice. Then, when you see a great opportunity, take the relevant skills and experience from your master resume and tailor it to that job. Mirror the terminology that the company uses in their job description, so there is no doubt you’ll check their boxes. Try to fit the style and tone of your resume to the company’s culture and values. Consider the size of the company as well. A small company will have fewer gatekeepers, while a large company may utilize an Applicant Tracking System (see Question #5 on writing for an ATS).

2. How do I make myself stand out right away?

The first third of your resume is vital. It’s where a hiring manager quickly decides whether to keep reading or move on to the next. It needs to succinctly communicate your personal brand and that you have the skills for the job. Include a three to five line summary that establishes your “personal brand,” offering an overview of your experience and how it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. Then, put in your most current and relevant skills and technological expertise. Include certifications and any relevant specialized training after the skills section.

3. What’s the best way to make my resume easy to read?

To make your resume easy to skim, include a combination of bullet points and short blurbs with no more than eight bullet points per job. Have enough white space so that it doesn’t appear stuffed with too much information. The one-page resume is a myth — if you need to take two to three pages to best tell your story, that’s okay.

For the writing itself, make sure to keep your verbs active and your tenses consistent. Every word on the page should serve a purpose, which means that you’ll want to qualify and quantify any accomplishments. Make it clear how you added value to each company.

4. How do I explain gaps in employment or irrelevant job experience?

If you have any gaps in employment due to family leave, travel, or education that are six months or more, then explain that in your work experience section. Insert a title such as Student, Volunteer, Travel Abroad, or Personal/Family Leave that explains the time gap and demonstrates how you made use of non-employed time. If possible, include concrete examples of how you kept your professional skills sharp and any classes/education you acquired.

It’s also worth noting that you don’t need to list every single job you’ve ever held. You can remove jobs that aren’t relevant to the position you’re applying to, and you don’t need to list more than 10 to 15 years of work history.

5. How can I get my resume past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

If your resume will be read by program before a real person ever sees it, then you need to know how to optimize your resume to pass an Applicant Tracking System. Rather than getting creative with headers or formatting, stick to simple formatting and the traditional sections of a resume like Qualifications, Professional Experience, Skills, Education, etc. Adding unfamiliar headers can choke up an ATS. Be sure to include some of the exact verb phrases and keywords that are listed in the job description so the ATS can recognize you are qualified. You can also tweak your past job titles to fit the role you’re applying for. As long as you did the work, a functional title versus an official one is acceptable.

Want more resume advice? Our Resume Rescue Infographic has even more great tips!

Premier Recruiting Services in Washington
As the leading tech staffing agency in Seattle, Washington, we know how difficult it can be to get your resume noticed. By following our advice, you can refine your resume and improve your chances of landing that dream job. To learn more about our exceptional recruitment agency serving Bellevue, Washington and other areas across the country, call us at (425) 214-1517 or continue to explore our site.

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