Building a Job-Winning Resume

Almost everyone feels insecure when they start working on their first resume. Suddenly there are lots of questions that need to be answered. What should I write? How should I write it? What should I include in my resume to make it more appealing?

The picture shows the definition of a resume.

If you’re looking for answers to CV-related questions, you’ve come to the right place. This article by Custom-Writing.org will show you how to write an outstanding resume that will help you get a job even without prior experience.

📝 What Is the Purpose of a Resume?

In a nutshell, a resume is a document that outlines your professional skills and qualifications. It includes your work history, education, and accomplishments related to the job you want to get. Sometimes, a cover letter is added to a resume to showcase your suitability for the role.

One common mistake people make is that they try and include everything about themselves when writing a resume. It’s okay and even necessary to share some information about your personality traits, hobbies, and experiences. However, it’s crucial to remember that a resume’s primary goal is to convince employers that you are worth interviewing and hiring. That’s why everything you include in it needs to be relevant to the job.

🛠️ Key Resume Elements: Hard & Soft Skills

There’s a widespread belief that the “experience” section is the most important in a resume. However, we suggest you focus on the hard and soft skills sections. In recent years, employers have started to pay particular attention to these two criteria while looking for candidates.

What is the difference between hard and soft skills? Well, it’s simple:

  • Soft skills are abilities that are not unique to a particular job. For example, communication or management skills are valued in any organization. Individuals who possess these qualities automatically become more attractive to potential employers.
  • In contrast, hard skills are technical abilities that fit the job. For instance, a prime example of hard skills for software developers would be computer skills. Apart from being professional and well-organized, they need to know how to work with computers and have a set of other technical abilities.

Even though it may seem as though soft skills in the workplace pose less value, this is far from the truth. According to a recent GlobeNewswire survey, 73% of employers pay special attention to candidates’ soft skills.

Top 10 Soft Skills for Any Job

As we’ve mentioned above, soft skills are universal and valued in every type of job, unlike hard skills. For that reason, having these qualities will make you a desirable professional and a great fit anywhere. Here’s a list of top 10 soft skills to consider for your resume:

Work ethic This skill demonstrates your dedication to the job. Employees with a strong work ethic are highly valued, as they are well-organized, committed, and have excellent performance.
Communication This skill involves more than just talking to your coworkers. It is also the ability to express and convey your ideas clearly while staying professional. 
Self-awarenessThis skill allows you to look at yourself from an outside perspective, see the situation for what it is, and work on self-improvement. This skill helps to create a harmonious environment in a workplace.
CreativityThis skill is usually associated with art, illustration, and design. However, creativity is a broad term. It involves sub-skills like innovation, mind-mapping, and questioning. It allows you to be open to experiments.
Attention to detail This skill demonstrates your ability to be thorough and careful with details. It shows your dedication and increases the quality of your work.
Adaptability This vital skill demonstrates how well you can embrace change and adjust.
Time management This skill shows your ability to use time wisely and work as efficiently as possible.
Problem-solving This skill involves analysis, observation, logical reasoning, and decision-making. No matter the situation, if you are good at problem-solving, you will always find a way and get the best possible outcome.
Teamwork This skill helps you work effectively in a group, accomplish tasks, and build good relationships with your coworkers.  
Conflict resolution This skill involves your ability to resolve conflicts through negotiation. If you are good at conflict resolution, it benefits professional relationships and customer service.

✍️ Writing a Resume in 7 Steps

Being able to write a resume is a valuable skill that can help you get your dream job. This 7-step guide will help you to build a winning resume: 

The picture shows how to write a resume in 7 steps.
  1. Study job postings that suit you. Before you start working on an actual resume, search for suitable job openings and see what skills they generally require. Write a professional summary.
  2. A professional summary is a short section at the beginning of your resume highlighting your professional skills and expressing your career goals. You can write it as a paragraph or use bullet points. 

Example:

  • Skilled Business Management Specialist.
  • Four years of experience in the field of human resource management, customer support, and administration.
  • Worked closely with a Marketing Specialist to run advertisements and create social media content.
  • Able to help the company explore sales opportunities to expand internationally.
  1. List your skills. Enumerate your crucial abilities, both soft and hard; focus on the skills mentioned in the job ad. 
  2. Describe your work experience. When talking about employment history, don’t simply give a list of your responsibilities. Instead, it’s better to talk about your work’s impact on the company’s performance. Regardless of your role, try to find data or metrics that show the importance of your input.  
  3. Add extra information. To help the companylearn more about you, include some information related to your interests, volunteering experiences, honors, or language skills.  
  4. Write a heading. The header of your resume needs to include information such as: 
    • Name, 
    • Phone number, 
    • A professional e-mail address, 
    • Links to your personal website, portfolios, and LinkedIn profile. 
  5. Edit and proofread. Before submitting your resume, double-check all the essential information. Read the whole document once again and, if possible, send it to a trusted friend for some feedback.  

👍 Tips for Building an Effective Resume

How can you make your resume appealing to HR and potential employers? Keep reading to find out!

Choosing a Suitable Format

Studies show that, on average, recruiters spend 6 seconds skimming over a resume. For that reason, the layout is something you want to pay special attention to. Start by choosing the most fitting format: 

  1. Chronological. This format focuses on work experience. A chronological resume is perfect if you’re looking for a job in a field in which you have lots of previous experience. It is seen as a traditional resume template. 
  2. Functional. The main focus of this format is your skills. A functional resume is suitable if you hope to find a creative job where skills are more important than your employment history.  
  3. Combination. It’s a format that focuses on both your experience and skills. A combination resume is best if you’re applying for a highly specialized position requiring skills and expertise. 

Using Bullet Points

Since recruiters don’t spend much time studying each resume, it’s best if the document’s layout is as simple as possible. Using bullet points is one of the ways to make your CV more readable. Bullet points are mainly suitable for chronological and combination formats, as these types of resumes involve a lot of lists.  

The best strategy would be the following:

  • List the information in order. 
  • Be specific about the details of your work. 
  • Use various action verbs.  

It’s especially beneficial to use bullet points in the section dedicated to your employment history. For instance, you can add several sub-items that outline your responsibilities and achievements in your previous workplaces.

Choosing a Font

When it comes to fonts, the safest option is to choose the simplest, cleanest, and most legible ones. The most common and suitable fonts for a resume are Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, and Cambria.

Serif fonts, for instance, are more traditional and formal, while Sans-serif ones are more modern. You can use these kinds of fonts to showcase your individuality. However, always keep in mind that simplicity is your number one priority. The required font size usually ranges from 10 to 12. 

How to Put Your Skills on Your Resume

Now, let’s turn our attention to soft skills. What is the most effective way to present them in your resume? When you write about your soft skills, it might not be enough to simply state “communication” or “critical thinking.” It’s best to use specific vocabulary and pay attention to the required skills for the job.

Here are some examples of specific skills that you can mention:

Skills you want to includeWhat to write in your resumeComments
Communication Listening While communication is essential, most employers look for workers who can listen to others as well as express their own ideas. Listening is especially important in customer service jobs.
Critical thinking Flexibility Employers that approach their work with a flexible mindset are highly valued. How you adapt to a changing environment or circumstances affects your performance as well as teamwork. 
Teamwork Collaboration Skills related to teamwork include your ability to negotiate, accept both positive and negative feedback, and collaborate with other team members. Collaboration skills enable you to successfully work towards a common goal with others and respect the diversity of your colleagues. 
Work ethic Organization An employee’s work ethic is fundamental to hiring managers. Organizational skills are crucial to keep the business running smoothly. Individuals with organizational skills are good at planning, prioritizing, and working towards a set goal.

What to Include in the Interests Section

Including hobbies and interests on your resume may help you demonstrate your individuality and unique skills. This can be especially useful to those with limited work experience. Consider the following hobbies for your resume: 

🏅 Sports Playing sports means being healthy and energetic. For that reason, it’s very attractive to employers if you include such activities in your list of hobbies. Additionally, being a team captain demonstrates your leadership and organizational skills.
🌲 Outdoor activities Similar to sports, outdoor activities like hiking or camping show employers that you are full of energy. If you get into nature in your spare time, it also suggests that you are less likely to get stressed and burnt out from work. 
🎨 Art Interest in art demonstrates your creativity and an eye for detail. It’s especially beneficial to put art as one of your hobbies if you’re looking for a creative or design-focused job. 
🤝 Volunteering Having volunteer work on your resume is an excellent way to show your community engagement and generosity. If you want to apply to a nonprofit organization or a company that values social responsibility, volunteering is a great option.
💬 Languages The knowledge of foreign languages demonstrates your communication skills and dedication. This hobby is especially beneficial if you’re looking for jobs that involve global sales, tourism, or traveling. 
🎼 Music Creating music or playing an instrument requires a lot of commitment, so adding this hobby shows your hard-working nature. If you are a band member, it may also help showcase your collaboration skills. It’s always safe to add music as a hobby; it demonstrates your openness and your ability to be patient. 

Using Resume Keywords

Another thing to keep in mind while building your resume is keywords. Many companies use the Applicant Tracking System or ATS to scan every application and check them for keywords. To better understand what keywords are and how to use them, take a look at these examples: 

Resume keywords related to…
Work experience Skills Education
  • Paperwork
  • Algorithm
  • Flowcharts
  • High-quality
  • Teamwork
  • Creativity
  • Coding language
  • Attention to detail
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s degree
  • Fine Arts
  • Medicine & Health 

How do you determine which words recruiters and the ATS are looking for? Well, first, you need to scan the job ad for job-related words. After that, highlight all the keywords you’ve found. Choose those more relevant to your experience and the job you’re applying for, and add them to your resume.

Adding Action Words

When companies use the ATS to check resumes for keywords, they also scan them for action words. These words help attract attention to your achievements and make the document more readable. They serve as an excellent addition to keywords: they add some diversity and make your CV look even more appealing.  

Suitable action words can be found in job descriptions similarly to keywords. Here are some examples that you may use in your resume:

📊Related to day-to-day activities
  • Supported
  • Resolved
  • Upheld
💪Related to improvement
  • Enhanced
  • Boosted
  • Accelerated
💡Related to new projects
  • Created
  • Established
  • Launched
    🏆Related to achievements
    • Exceeded
    • Succeeded
    • Awarded
    👔Related to management
    • Organized
    • Directed
    • Coordinated

    ✅ 9 Common Mistakes in Resumes & How to Avoid Them

    Now that you know everything about writing a resume, it’s time to take a look at some of the common mistakes and how to avoid them:

    ❌ Mistakes✔️ How to avoid them
    Spelling errors and bad grammar.  It’s probably the most obvious resume tip: the resume needs to have perfect grammar. If your document contains typos and grammar mistakes, you likely won’t produce the best impression on the hiring team. It’s best to proofread your resume or get somebody else to check it before sending it to your potential employer.  
    Exaggerations.Writing that you are an expert in a program you’re barely familiar with may seem like a good idea. But if after getting the job you’ll be asked to perform an advanced task, you will probably regret your decision. Be honest about your skills; you can always improve them in the future.
    Poor formatting and visual presentation.Poor formatting has a significant impact on how your employers will perceive you. Before sending the document, look up some good resume examples or ask for advice.
    Too generic.  If your resume is full of clichés, it will appear as if you have no original ideas. Try to be more creative: think about why the company will benefit from your skills.  
    Too long or too short.Many candidates squeeze their experience onto one page, while others make their resumes too long. Try limiting yourself to two pages by choosing the most relevant and interesting information.  
    Not tailored to a specific role.Instead of creating a generic CV and sending it to many different employers, it’s better to focus on one particular job and tailor your resume to fit the position. Read through the job description, choose relevant keywords, and try to showcase your personality in a way that will convince the hiring team you are the one they’re looking for.   
    Too much personal information.If the employer is not asking for information regarding your marital status, nationality, or religious beliefs, there’s no need to include it in your resume. Although this depends on the company and the work you’re applying to, the rule of thumb is to avoid excessive personal details.
    Buzzwords.Language is essential in your resume. It’s best to avoid using trite phrases such as “responsible for.” Instead, try to incorporate more action verbs. It will help you showcase your individuality and improve the overall tone of your resume.  
    Incorrect contact information.  Making mistakes in your contact information is common and can be costly. Even if employers are interested in you, they will have no way of reaching out. That’s why it’s better to double-check the contact details before sending your resume.   

    🎓 Bonus Tips for Writing a Resume with No Job Experience

    The first resume is the most difficult one to write. You don’t have work experience, and there’s not much relevant information you can include in the document. Is there a way to impress a hiring team without having any employment history?  

    Yes, there is! The main point is to demonstrate your skills and achievements related to the job you hope to get. Here are the strategies you can use to impress your employer:

    1. Highlight your key skills relevant to the job. If you don’t have an employment history, it’s good to focus on your skills instead. Create a list of relevant soft and hard skills at the beginning of your resume. 
    2. Write an objective that fits the job description. Since you don’t have work experience, you can instead focus on your goals. For example, you could write:

    Example:

    Result-oriented graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, seeking to develop and grow innovative projects.

    1. Mention your achievements in the “education” section. Don’t simply state that you’ve completed education in a particular field. Instead, it’s a good idea to mention your achievements. You could include your GPA and facts such as being an active member of your university’s Heritage Conservation organization.
    2. Write about any relevant practice. Describe your volunteer experience or extracurricular activities that show your skills and achievements.
    3. Mention any relevant certificates you have. If you completed an online course or have certificates pertinent to the job you’re applying for, include them in your resume. 
    4. Add a cover letter. Even if it’s not required, sending a short cover letter along with your resume is a good idea. It allows you to explain why you are suitable for the job based on your skills and experiences. 

    If you like this article, feel free to leave a comment or share it with your friends. Best of luck with your resume!

    🔍 References

    This article was developed by the editorial team of Custom-Writing.org, a professional writing service with 3-hour delivery.
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