It’s no surprise that your resume is your first impression on potential employers. It’s important to take the time to create a resume that accurately reflects your skills and experience. And those skills will be different for each job you apply to – whether it’s an HVAC apprenticeship or a plumbing field tech. Having to “sell yourself” can be a daunting task, but there are some key things to keep in mind that will help you create the right resume.
A good resume hits specific points: your achievements, job history, and education. To avoid your resume ending up at the bottom of the pile, there are a few ways you can make it stand out.
What’s most important is getting your resume through the ATS system, or applicant tracking system, so it’s reviewed by the recruiter. Often recruiters don’t see your resume until the ATS approves it. Which is why you should make sure your resume is formatted correctly and specific to each job you apply to.
How to create a good resume
Here are some of the different types of resumes to choose from and how to use the right resume to get you seen and potentially hired.
ATS, or applicant tracking systems, are systems used by employers to collect and store resumes. They’re designed to help hiring managers save time by weeding out unqualified candidates.
Here are some tips on how to optimize your resume for an ATS.
Use keywords wisely
Keywords are terms that employers expect you to have if you want to perform the job successfully. These keywords can be used inside the job description or the skills section. Keywords can be a combination of hard skills or quantifiable skills gained through your work experience, or soft skills that are based on interpersonal connection.
Sample keyword list of soft skills
- Good organization
- Critical thinking
Sample keyword list of hard skills
- HTML and CSS
- MS Office
- Social media
Understand ATS formatting
One reason job seekers feel frustrated when applying for jobs is when they have to type in each of their job titles into an application even when they’ve uploaded their resume. You can avoid this by sticking to a standard ATS format.
Using items like fancy fonts or elaborate graphics can confuse ATS systems so they are unable to read your resume.
Try sticking to basic fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial. Make good use of headings and bullet points to make your resume easily scannable by the ATS. Check out these ATS-friendly resume templates.
Chronological resumes are great options to display your work experience. You can list your work experience starting with your most recent job and working backward. If you have a strong work history that shows steady progression and upward mobility, this could be the best choice.
This resume type works because it emphasizes your work history, professional experience, and your responsibilities for each role.
Feel free to round out your resume with an education section listing any relevant degrees or certifications you have earned. Check out these examples of chronological resumes.
Functional or skills-based resumes
A skills-based or functional resume highlights your skills and abilities instead of your work history. This type of resume is especially helpful if you have gaps in your employment history or if you’re changing careers.
Start by listing all of your skills, both hard and soft. Identify relevant skills to the job you’re targeting. You can do this by reviewing the job listing and looking for keywords and phrases that describe the desired qualifications for the job.
For instance, if the job posting is looking for someone with excellent communication skills, highlight any instances where you’ve demonstrated excellent communication ability in your previous roles. Here are some skills-based resume examples.
Combining these resume types
Many resumes combine one or more of these tactics to create a resume that gets jobs. Whatever resume format you choose, make sure you customize your resume for each position you apply for.
A resume that wins jobs is concise, uses the correct keywords, and shows results that you’ve gotten in your previous roles. These will reflect that you know how to get the job done.
Should I customize my resume?
You should always customize your resume for every position that you apply for. Not only will this help you ensure your resume targets the right keywords, but you’ll be more likely to land the job if you customize your resume to what recruiters are looking for.
Be sure to describe specific instances of results you achieved while working at past positions. Use numerical values to describe how you got results in your role.
In addition, you can also update the skills section to match the skills the position is looking for. Update your job title to fit that of the position you are applying for.
What to do about career gaps on your resume
Having a career gap on your resume doesn’t have to end your job search. There are many ways you can justify a career gap on your resume and even use it to your advantage.
The best way to handle a career gap on a resume is, to be honest about it. Highlight your achievements during your gaps such as courses you took, certifications, or volunteer work. Use different resume formats to your advantage and remember to stay confident.
Overall, showing that you have the skills necessary to complete the job is the best way to manage a career gap.
The key to creating the right resume is making sure it is accurately formatted, uses the right keywords, and highlights your experience in a way the recruiter is confident you can do the job efficiently.
Creating the right resume for your job search doesn’t have to be hard. By customizing your resume for each position and using numbers to back up your accomplishments at previous places of employment, you’ll be well on your way to creating a resume that not only wins jobs but helps you take the next step in your career.
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