Capturing someone’s attention and making a great first impression in just six seconds is no easy feat. Now, imagine trying to do this without ever meeting that person.
Sounds impossible, right?
Well, if you’re a job seeker who submits an outstanding résumé that tells your “career story” in a succinct, easy-to-follow way, it’s actually very achievable.
To ensure your résumé stands out (for the right reasons), there are a few things you’ll want to avoid and some you’ll definitely want to include, says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Résumé Writers’ Ink. “Basically employers want to see where candidates have earned, learned, and contributed.”
Whether to include things like an objective statement, list of skills, and education will depend on your level of experience and industry — but here are six simple things you should always include on your résumé, no matter what:
This may seem obvious, but candidates sometimes forget to include basic information like their email address, or they bury it at the bottom. “Include your name, phone number, email, and URL to your LinkedIn profile right at the top of the page,” Nicolai says. “And you don’t need to include your home address.”
Executive résumé writer Mary Elizabeth Bradford suggests including just one phone number and email address. “Some people will include their home and cell numbers, for example — but I find multiple contact choices to be confusing. Make it easy for your reader to understand how to contact you.”
Keywords from the job posting.
You’ll want to include (without making it look like you did a lot of copying and pasting) some keywords and phrases from the job posting. This is especially important if the employer uses a résumé-scanning system.
Accomplishments and achievements.
Employers need to know what you’ve done to contribute to the growth of your department, team, and company to determine whether your strengths align with the needs and responsibilities of their company and the job opening, Nicolai says.
Your career narrative.
“No matter if you are constructing a functional résumé or a chronological résumé, some kind of professional history is critical,” Bradford says. “But make sure your story makes for a more interesting read.”
“Employers need numbers to be able to fully evaluate the scope of your bandwidth,” Nicolai says. “No position is exempt from measuring results. And metrics help employers determine if a person is capable of leading a team, managing clients, or growing the business.”
Metrics are also a great way to back up your achievements.
Depending on the field or position you’re applying for, it may be useful to include links to your work (articles you’ve written, websites you’ve designed, photographs you’ve taken, etc.).
“Candidates need to show up on paper as though they have already been screened by a recruiter,” Nicolai says. “Today, recruiters and gatekeepers are stretched to the gills and do not have the time to conduct lengthy initial phone screens to understand detailed specific information.”
Knowing that, your goal should be to include enough information using as few words as possible, Bradford says. “Less is more in most cases, and writing ‘too much’ is generally the most common mistake I see. You don’t want key attributes getting lost in a sea of information just because you have ‘seen and done it all from the bottom up.’”
Use your ideal career position as your touchtone and write to that, she suggests. “Accentuate the skills, abilities, metrics, and leadership abilities that make the best case for you being in that next position, and minimize the rest.”