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Resume 101: Five Ways to Level Up Your Resume

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When it comes to job searching, your resume plays a crucial role in nailing your first impression. It's the first thing that hiring managers and recruiters will be looking at, which means your resume must be a strong and accurate representation of your experience.

If you can make a great first impression with your resume, you have a better chance of moving on to the interview phase and, eventually, your first day on the new job. Your resume should show your excitement for finding a new role and correctly summarize the past education, skills, and experience you have.

Here are five resume 101 tips to help you make a lasting impression on hiring managers and take you one step closer to your dream job!

1. Tailor your career objective to each role.

Chances are, you are probably applying and interviewing for several different types of roles. Since each position is slightly different from the next, tailor your “Objective” to match each job you're applying for.

Typically, your objective consists of 1-2 sentences that summarize your current experience and explains the types of roles you’re are looking for. It gives you an excellent opportunity to grab the hiring manager's attention and show your passion and excitement for getting a new role to advance your career.

Remember, your objective section shouldn't just be a summary of you. It should connect the dots between your skills, passions, and expertise as they relate to the job you're looking to land. 84% of resume rejections occur when recruiters come across generic, impersonal applications. So as you apply to specific jobs, take a few minutes to review and tweak your objective as needed to be sure it fits the application, role, and company you're applying to.

2. Keep it clean and simple.

The easier it is to read your resume, the better — that's resume 101. Stick with one type of font and make sure that formatting is streamlined throughout the entire document. You'll likely want to avoid bright, contrasting colors or artistic fonts that are tough to read. Be sure your margins line up and include standard formatting elements that will make your resume informative and scannable, such as:

  • A header section with your contact information and career objective
  • Subsections for skills/certifications, experience, education, and awards/honors
  • Bullets underneath each subsection to keep information clear and concise

Many candidates are concerned with the popular “rule” about resume length and whether it is frowned upon to go beyond one page. While your resume shouldn't end up looking like a manuscript, you shouldn't limit yourself to an unofficial rule or leave off value information to keep your resume down to a page. Instead of focusing on length, focus on content.

Someone with two years of work experience might only need a one-page resume, but someone with 20 years of experience will probably need more space to include their lengthy experience. As a general rule of thumb, if you have experience that aligns with your future goals, include it on your resume!

When determining the essential skills to include on your resume, you should ask yourself, “will this add value to my profile as I apply to this new role?” If the answer is yes, then include the experience in your resume!

3. Give Recruiters a 360° view of you.

61% of employers believe soft skills are just as important on a resume as hard skills. So while it's essential to include past experiences and relevant certifications, you shouldn't be afraid to put adjacent skills or personal passions on a resume, as long as you can relate them back to the job you're applying for.

For example, if you're a parent, you've probably picked up project management or conflict resolution skills in your daily life. These skills could be beneficial in your next professional endeavor, especially if you're looking for a management or upper-level position.

You can also highlight significant achievements, in-flight certifications, and experiences gained throughout your career up to now, even if they don't directly relate to your desired role or new industry. Showing a complete picture of your past experience and expertise gives recruiters an idea of your passions and motivation.

Your varied experiences and skills demonstrate your willingness to pursue opportunities and employers you'll be more likely to go above and beyond in your new role.

4. Consider your audience.

As you refresh an existing resume or create one from scratch, consider your audience and their objectives along with your own. If you're applying for a job in the IT field, you'll likely want to prioritize your relevant certifications and upskilling courses. Alternatively, candidates in a creative field like design may choose to highlight their portfolio of past work rather than a list of technical skills.

Think about the industry you're entering and conduct a quick Google search to see what hiring managers in that space are most interested in, then make sure to include those elements in your resume. As you learn what "must-have" information to include, be sure to consider the flip side. If you've included filler information to bulk up your resume in the past, now is a great time to remove it so your unique skills can shine.

Just as you'll tailor your objective section to each specific role or application, be sure to take a pass through your entire resume to ensure it aligns with the job posting. If you also want to post your resume on a job board, create a 'standard' version without specific company or role information, then continue tweaking more specific versions for each application.

This will help ensure you put your best foot forward to each potential employer, and it shows you've taken the time and consideration to learn about their company and open roles before clicking "Apply."

5. Bring it along to job interviews.

When you are selected for a job interview for a job, you can be confident that your resume was the deciding factor. That means the hiring manager or interviewer reviewed the information within it and couldn't wait to learn more about you!

But even if the interviewer looked through your resume, cover letter, and other information, you shouldn't expect every detail to be fresh in their mind, especially since they receive an average of 250 resumes per open job posting.

Hiring managers are usually pulled from one meeting to the next, and they are probably short-handed if they are interviewing you to join their team. The likelihood of them having the time to print your resume before the interview is pretty slim!

Resume 101: when prepping for an interview, always print out a couple of extra resumes to bring with you. This will help remind your interviewer why they liked you so much and will ensure everyone is on the same page — literally — throughout the interview. And if an interviewer who's never seen your resume shows up to the interview, you can get them up to speed quickly with a fresh new copy for their review.

They will be grateful for the help, and you will score extra points for being prepared. Plus, having a paper copy in hand makes it easy to reference specific past experiences or relevant certifications as you chat.


Whether you're starting from scratch or ready to revamp your resume in line with a career change, CareerCircle can help. If your current resume doesn’t accurately reflect your current skillset and the holistic talents that can help you stand out to hiring managers, check out our free online Resume Builder.

Craft a polished, professional resume in minutes, upload it to your CareerCircle profile, and save a digital to use on future applications.

Ready to create a standout resume that will help you get noticed by hiring managers?

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