How to Write a Resume that Works

by Scott Kuethen
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I’m often asked by job seekers for tips on how to write a resume that works. Your resume can help grab the attention of potential employers if it is written well. Here is the general format I recommend for writing your resume:

  1. Lead with the strongest summary of experience you can muster. I like to tell people to think of a resume as one place where bragging about their achievements and accomplishments is what they should be doing. Imagine your mom and dad telling their closest friends how proud they are of you and what you’ve done. That’s the idea here in how to write a resume that works. Use a strong, assertive, confident voice supporting your accomplishment in the first Summary or Experience paragraph.
  2. Point out your most significant, quantifiable achievements. If you have a set of 5 or so significant achievements, those should come next, outlined briefly in bulleted format for quick, easy reading. These are best written in some measurable context, such as, “Improved X by 20%,” or, “Decreased waste by 10%.” Quantifiable achievements demonstrate that you can get stuff done. They show that you are the kind of employee an employer wants to hire. This first section of your resume can determine whether the recruiter or hiring manager will be interested enough to read further.
  3. List your chronological work experience. Here is where you type out your chronological work history, including the month and year when each job started and stopped. You’ll also want to give an explanation of what you did, embellishing with any details of a significant accomplishment you
    listed very briefly earlier. Since they’ll soon be investing in a new employee, decisionmakers are looking for someone who has shown dependability and some degree of longevity.
  4. List your education. This one’s simple. Tell where you went to school and what degrees and/or certifications you acquired.
  5. Give a little personal information. Tell briefly about your volunteer work and personal interests. Your new employer wants to hire someone who will be a good fit for their open position, including their company culture. Knowing a little about your personal life helps round out their picture of who you really are.

How to Write a Resume that Works

The most important thing in writing a resume is to be completely honest.  It should go without saying, but sadly, statistics show that a lot of people lie or exaggerate on their resumes. Know that a good staffing agency, recruiter, or HR department does thorough reference checks. When we at Amtec screen your resume, know that we will speak with your former bosses, run background checks, and make sure you have the qualifications you say you do. It’s best to put your best–not fake–foot forward and be hired for you are, not who you think they want you to be.

Highlight the Right Stuff

That being said, there are times when you need to bring certain facets of your accomplishments to center stage. Pay attention to what the job posting is targeting. If it asks for a certain qualification, experience, or competency and you have it, make sure this version of your resume features it. You may tweak your resume toward a job posting every time you apply for a different open position. Check out Indeed’s free tool to help build your professional resume.

How to write a resume that works isn’t complicated, but it does take some forethought and self-awareness. A resume should never just be a boring chronological list of where you’ve been. It should also paint a well-rounded picture of a valuable candidate your future employer can’t wait to hire.

Candidates, do we have the most current version of your resume? If not, click here to post it, and visit our job board for professional and technical jobs while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions. Also, join our Talent Network to receive updates and alerts with new job opportunities that match your interests.

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