The internet is full of sites, and the bookstores are equally full of well-intentioned books, all professing to give you the best resume advice possible.
But how do you distil such a large volume of information into succinct, actionable advice that you can apply quickly and easily?
And to get maximum results?
Well, here at the Job Search Bible we wanted to cut through the information overload and get to the very heart of the matter.
So we reached out to a bunch of well-respected and qualified career experts, and asked them all the following question:
“What do you consider to be the single most important consideration for job seekers to focus on when writing their resume?”
And we got a great response.
Here are the highlights:
- 43% of experts highlighted the need to directly align specific achievements on your resume with the specific challenges of the role, to make it easy to see why you would be a good candidate.
- 38% of experts stated tailoring your resume to the industry, company or job that you are applying for, rather than simply submitting the same, generic resume for multiple roles.
- 19% of experts advise quantifying your achievements (include numbers, percentages, dollars) to help articulate exactly how you added value.
- 10% of experts suggest writing your resume as a marketing document – put yourself in the mind of the employer and highlight what they would get by hiring you.
- 10% of experts stated that the format and presentation of your resume is key, as this enables potential employers to quickly and easily identify key information.
- 5% of experts advise making sure your resume is consistent with other publicly available information, such as your LinkedIn profile and your social media accounts.
- 5% of experts suggested getting professional help writing your resume, to make use of expertise and experience that you may not have individually.
(Note: The percentages total more than 100% as some respondents provided more than one ‘single most important factor!)
We would like to thank each of the career experts for taking the time to respond, and for their advice.
Full responses from each career expert can be found below:
There’s no such thing as a generic, one-size-fits-all resume in today’s competitive job market. Every resume submitted must be customized to meet the requirements stated in the job posting. This requires careful analysis of the job posting and ensuring the same skills, terms and special requirements are used (without lying) within the resume submitted.
Hannah Morgan | Job Search Strategist | www.CareerSherpa.net
I would say that creating a specific summary of your expertise using the terminology of the role you are seeking is most important. You want to succinctly correlate what you have done with what you want to do. Done correctly this will guide the reader and make him/her understand immediately whether you might be a fit.
Allison Cheston | Career Advisor | www.allisoncheston.com
I think the single most important thing to consider is tailoring your resume to job offers or positions. Tailoring shows that you’ve made an effort to research what the employer wants. Plus, tailoring gives both recruiters and ATS software what’s wanted right away, increasing your changes of landing an interview.
Natalie Severt | www.uptowork.com
The most important thing to quantify your achievements. Hiring Managers and recruiters get many resumes that are the same. All of them talk about qualities – teamwork,organization skills,etc.
However, in order to stand out, candidates must quantify their past accomplishments. This will ensure that the hiring managers spend more of their time reviewing your resume and possibly call you for an interview.
Nissar Ahamed | Managing Editor | CareerMetis.com
I think the most important thing to remember when writing your resume is that you MUST showcase hard skill sets you have that directly relate to the job you want to land. Customization is so important. Make it easy for the person reading your resume to say, “This candidate has EXACTLY what we’re looking for in terms of this job!
Ariella Coombs | workitdaily.com
Create a document that is easy for the reader to skim and absorb the important information. You can have the most impressive track record, but if it’s lost in the middle of long blocks of text, the reader may miss it. Use short paragraphs and bullets, tight writing, and formatting that helps guide the reader’s eye to the critical material. Make the document easily scannable by the human eye.
Laurie Berenson | CMRW, CEIC, CPRW | www.SterlingCareerConcepts.com
The single most important consideration for a resume is customization. What is the employer looking for in the person who fills this position, and how EXACTLY do you provide it? How do you have the perfect set of skills and attributes, and how have you achieved incredible success in a similar position? You want them to glance at your resume, check every box they’re looking to check, and want to call you in immediately.
Alexandra Levit | Author, Speaker, and Consultant | www.alexandralevit.com
The most important message to convey in your resume is that you produce results. Instead of listing your job duties, list the impact you had on your employer, your customers, and/or your end users. Your past impact is the best predictor of the impact you’ll have in a new job. And that’s what prospective employers really want, even if they don’t specifically ask for it in a job posting.
If you don’t know what impact you had, ask yourself the question “So what? So, what happened because I performed this function?” It doesn’t matter if anyone else could have done the same job you did. What matters is that you did it. Show that because you did something, there was some kind of impact.
Julie Erickson | Career Coach & Amazon Best-selling Author | myrightfitjob.com
Job seekers need to focus on achievements and accomplishments in a resume. Include numbers, percentages, and dollar amounts whenever possible to indicate what you did for the company. It’s vital to set yourself apart from others with similar jobs by defining how you helped a previous employer and what you can do for a future organization.
Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish | BBA in Management, an MBA, and a PhD in Organization and Management | feather-communications.com/
I believe that many jobseekers don’t think of their resume as a marketing document. They forget to put themselves in the mindset of their buyers (potential employers.) Instead of an objective at the top of their resume, which outlines what the candidate is looking for, their opening statement should tell the reader: Here’s what you get when you hire me.
Candace Moody | atworkjax.wordpress.com/
One of the most important things for you to realise as a candidate is that your resume is likely to be looked at alongside your social media presence – most notably your LinkedIn profile. So a key to success is ensuring that your resume dovetails with your LinkedIn profile. All facts and figures, job titles and key dates need to be consistent across both documents – and either one needs to be strong enough to secure you an interview in its own right.
Tony Restell | Founder of Social-Hire, a specialist social media agency focused on using social media for recruiting | www.Social-Hire.com
The most important consideration, and first step in writing a resume, is to identify the audience:
- Who is going to read this?
c. Job Titles(s).
- What do they need to have done and who do they want to hire?
- Gather one to three job descriptions.
b. Highlight each job’s deliverables and qualifications.
c. Map your experience and accomplishments onto the deliverables and selection criteria.
- Now you’re ready to start writing because you know what information you have to share to land interviews.
Donna Svei | Executive Resumes & LinkedIn Profiles, Retained Search | www.avidcareerist.com/executive-resume-writer/
I’d say there are 2 most important things:
One is having specific, tangible achievements that are relevant to the job on the resume. You want to be able to quantify your experience as much as you can. If you’ve done something that has increased sales, or saved time/money, it is likely to impress the potential employer.
Tell the story – paint the picture of how you’ve turned a situation around/what would have happened if you hadn’t taken action and how you’ve made it a success.
It is also important that the achievements you share are relevant to the jobs you’re applying for (sometimes I see resumes with great achievements which have ZERO relevance to the job they’re applying for!). Always tailor your resume to each job you apply for – it will significantly increase the chances of getting a job interview.
Margaret Buj | Interview Coach | www.interview-coach.co.uk
One size doesn’t fit all. In working with clients over the years, I have found that they always want one resume to work for all jobs. I often hear groans from clients when I suggest that they consider whether their “master” resume is appropriate or not. Tailor your resume based upon the job description. Put in the time up front to tweak your resume to ensure it is chock full of job skills and key words that the employer is looking for. Often, resumes go to an automated tracking system with an algorithm that looks for key words only. Winning resumes are not one size fits all.
Katie Weiser | Professional Certified Coach (PCC) | www.katieweisercoaching.com
Presenting your experience and background in a way that’s relevant to the company’s needs. (ie “tailoring”). Understanding what they want in this position (looking at the first one or two bullets on the job description is a good hint, or any “hard” requirements they list), and then thinking about what pieces of experience you have that are most relevant to that.
In general, companies want someone who can come in and contribute immediately to the team and make an impact. You need to show them how you can help them make money, save money, solve problems, etc. The biggest mistake I see job seekers make on their resume is trying to be as impressive as possible without thinking about what’s most relevant to *this* job. They sit down to write their resume and think, “okay, what are my most impressive qualifications?”
The reality is you’re much better off asking yourself which of your qualifications are most relevant, and then deciding the most impressive pieces to share based on that.
Biron Clark | www.careersidekick.com
The most important consideration is that the focus of the resume must match the goal that the resume is designed to achieve. Without a focus, it is like packing for a vacation without knowing where you are going. You need to know your destination to choose the best things to pack.
Dr. Janet Scarborough Civitelli | Career Coach | VocationVillage.com
Use multiple targeted resumes. Don’t take the easy option with just a single, shotgun approach to your resume. Being clear on what it is about you and your experience that will benefit the potential employer is the shortest path to an interview.
Linda Allen | Managing Editor | www.mscareergirl.com
The single most important consideration for job seekers to focus on when writing their resume is clarity of how you’ll contribute value specifically to the company you’re sending it to.
It’s best to customize each resume to the specific position, and it speaks to the company’s needs.
Mark Dyson | MAEd/AET | www.thevoiceofjobseekers.com
Job hunters must answer the question in every hiring managers mind – and there’s only one…”what’s in it for me”.
Your resume must address and solve their pain. Employers hire people to solve problems: what’s theirs? Networking with the newly departed will uncover their burning issues.
David Perry | Co-author Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 | www.gm4jh.com
Get someone else to write it for you – someone who sees hundreds of resumes at your level as part of their job.
Penelope Trunk | www.penelopetrunk.com
A job seeker needs to understand what key skills and qualifications the employer is looking for in a candidate for the role on offer. Then they should take care to present that key information on their resume in the most eye-catching way possible.
They need to make sure the employer can easily pick out what they are looking for from the very first skim of their resume. On average, an employer spends just 15 to 20 seconds looking over a resume before making the decision to either accept or reject the candidate for interview. This is a very small window of opportunity, so it is essential they get this right.
It’s easy to know what skills an employer is looking for. They tell you this within their job advertisement. You can not only pick out the skills needed for the role, but also the type of company language they use. If you can try to mirror their own language within your resume, you will create a positive first impression and will look as if you will fit right in with their existing company culture.
Hertzel Betito | www.freesumes.com