How to Take Your Resume from Good to Great

Good to Great ResumeYou have a pretty good resume: solid work history, relevant skills and keywords, and the best resume format to highlight it all. You’re ready to take the summer job market by storm.

But before you send it off to face those applicant tracking systems (ATS)—software used by most employers to receive, filter, and file submitted resumes—your resume, no matter how good you may think it is now, could be better. And in most cases, in order to get an interview, it must be better.

Use these five quick tips to take your resume from good… to great!

1. Take All the Space You Need

It is often said that the best resumes are limited to one page. In fact, until recently, this has been a golden resume-writing rule. But the rise of applicant tracking systems has allowed some liberties in content and space.

A resume parser, at the heart of an ATS, extracts relevant information (including contact information, resume keywords, and skills) from submitted resumes. A resume parser does not care about page breaks. If your resume extends to a second page, that information will get parsed, too.

So, stop scratching your head while messing with font sizes, margins and a lack of white space that may be keeping your resume from “great” status. While always choosing quality over quantity, take all the space you need to sell you.

2. Consider a Career Summary

Including a career summary at the top of your resume, preferably instead of an antiquated objective statement, is a great way to immediately make yourself distinctive.

Career summaries allow seasoned employees to establish a brand for themselves and express what makes them distinctive. For example, if your customer service experience has been solely with start-up companies, so you’re used to shifting priorities and wearing many hats, that sets you apart.

If your career is in its beginning stages (we’re looking at you, college seniors), you can still use a career summary in the form of a “Summary of Experience” where you focus on your skills and training—this includes both education and internships. When crafting your career summary, remember that, even for entry-level jobs, employers want to know how you can fill their needs. The buzzwords and career aspirations typical of resume objectives aren’t valuable to an employer.

Career summaries are also prime opportunities to include more of those crucial resume keywords, which can help your resume rank higher in an ATS. The quickest, easiest way to determine these resume keywords is to run your resume through a keyword tracker tool such as Jobscan. You’ll get instant personalized feedback telling you if your keywords have been formatted correctly, and whether you’ve missed any keyword opportunities.

3. Quantify Your Achievements

Yes, we know this advice is becoming commonplace… and yet we see so many resumes that talk about achievements, but aren’t backed up with social proof!

Most accomplishments can, in some way, be tied back to money or time. To come up with resume accomplishments, think in terms of challenges you faced, the action you took, and the result. Which is more powerful: “Significantly increased profits” or “Increased profits by 30 percent within three months.”

Whenever possible, use a number to back up statements that display the duties of your past occupations as achievements!

4. Leave Those Gaps in Your Work History

Maternity leave, studying or volunteering abroad, injury or illness, deaths. Even the most professional resumes can have a few holes in the work history, because life happens.

According to Glassdoor, unless the gap is more than two years, don’t stress about it. And don’t try to hide it on your resume. Many hiring managers will be understanding, especially given the number of people with gaps in their work histories as a result of the recent recession. If you do want to address a gap in your work history, save it for the in-person interview, or potentially your cover letter. Whenever you decide to bring it up, keep your explanation short and to the point.

If a resume provides quality, relevant content in other categories, most hiring managers won’t mind some time away from the workforce.

5. Ideal File Types

When submitting a resume online, it is crucial to understand which document file type will upload best and keep the integrity of your resume format. Most applicant tracking systems are sophisticated enough to accept numerous file types.

  • Word Document (.doc or .docx): A common and easy-to-edit file type. In most cases, your resume will be parsed error-free. Errors tend to be limited to spacing, and the contents of tables.
  • Adobe PDF (.pdf): Some early iterations of applicant tracking systems had trouble with this file type, but that is rarely the case now. The best feature about PDFs is that your resume formatting will remain intact.
  • Plain Text (.txt): This file type is universally compatible, but a resume won’t look very pretty. This file type removes formatting, resulting in pure, plain text. Upload a formatted copy of resume as well, if possible, if you choose .txt.
  • Copy and Paste: Rather than a file type, this is the option of copying and pasting your resume’s content directly into a space provided in the job application. Double check everything before submitting!
  • JPEG (.jpeg): While typically used for images, you can store a document as a JPEG. This file type is not recommended, because it’s not accepted by every ATS.

Before sending even one more resume out, thoroughly complete each of these steps… and take your resume from good to great!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at JobScan Blog!





This entry was posted in Resumes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.