Building an Effective Resume

View all blog posts under Master's in Strategic Public Relations Online

The first step toward getting hired for the position of your dreams is to create a résumé that can’t be ignored. Great résumés will strike a perfect balance between being informative and functioning as an effective marketing tool. To achieve this, you’ll have to do more than just create a standard header and fill out generic sections commonly found on résumés. Stand out from the crowd by choosing an appropriate document format, crafting a stellar career objective, using writing style to your advantage, finding ways to keep a hiring manager’s interest, and highlighting your strengths. These actions can increase the chances that your application will lead to an interview and an opportunity to win over the hiring manager face-to-face.

Choose the Right Format

Determine what kind of document format will appeal most to the hiring manager responsible for filling the position. Résumés that follow the traditional chronological format can be suitable for older hiring managers and applicants who have stayed in the same industry or job for years. Functional résumés can be an appropriate choice for applicants who want to highlight their skills and experience, those who are transitioning from one career path to another, or freelancers with significant gaps in employment. A combined format incorporates elements of both functional and chronological résumés, though they can easily become too lengthy. Generally, functional résumés are chosen by applicants in creative fields, chronological résumés are used by applicants in technical fields, and combined résumés are the option that employment-seekers select when they want to emphasize the details of their career path.

State Your Goal With a Career Objective

A career objective is a simple, short sentence near the top of your document that allows you to describe yourself and your goals. Career objectives are usually the first detail of résumés that hiring managers see and can either convince them to continue reading your document or move on to the next applicant. To entice readers, you should craft your career objective to show what you can offer the company as an employee. Typically, this can be achieved by highlighting your relevant experience and demonstrating how it can assist the company to achieve its goals. If you’re new to the job market, you can connect attractive aspects of your personality, such as your work ethic, to the specific position for which you are applying.

Show the Whole Picture With Sections

Successful résumés can hinge on choosing the appropriate sections to include in the document. Typically, you can expect to include a header in bold font that lists your name, address, and professional email address and a section devoted to showcasing your relevant experience or skills and your education. Depending on the type of job you’re pursuing, you can also include a section about your personal interests or activities. When creating these sections, use strong verbs to describe your contributions. You may also consider describing specific skills in short sentences as they relate to the position.

Make Your Point With Style

Incorporating great stylistic elements can be an essential component to getting your résumé read. When writing your document, choose a professional-looking, easy-to-read font, and keep the size at an agreeable 10 points. Opt to use strong action verbs rather than passive words; action words will help you stand out as a confident applicant. Using numerical symbols can encourage you to use specific numbers and figures, which can underscore your accomplishments.

Increase Readability and Keep Interest

One of the most important characteristics of winning résumés is readability. Hiring managers can read through hundreds of résumés a day, which can be taxing on the eyes and on their attention span. To avoid submitting a mundane, forgettable application, make sure that the amount of white space on the document is high. Be as concise as possible by using bullet points. Review the job posting and incorporate their keywords into your document’s text. Write in a positive tone, leave out superfluous information, and consider using a custom résumé for each position you seek to increase the chances that your document will appeal to the company’s hiring manager.

Wear Your Badges of Honor Proudly

When writing a résumé, avoid the temptation to be modest. Highlight how your specific contributions have helped other businesses or clients to achieve their goals or pad their bottom lines. Mention any relevant awards that you may have won, especially if they are related to the industry to which the position belongs. Be sure to include the dates on which you were honored. Add information about professional organizations to which you belong or volunteer work you’ve done, as this information may help you stand out among a sea of applicants who are just as qualified as you are to obtain the position.