Virtustream Blog

How to Write a Winning Resume

in Business, Executive, Working Here


Applying for a new job is a strenuous process and it all starts with writing your resume. A study from The Ladders found that on average, recruiters spend only six seconds reviewing an individual resume. Six seconds to make your first impression with just words on paper! That’s not much time to make a lasting impression. With this in mind, I’ve compiled some reminders for when you’re writing your resume to ensure it packs a punch:

1. Be yourself: While everyone strives for a glowing resume, no interviewer wants to be surprised to find your actual experience doesn’t match what you wrote on your resume. Be truthful about your roles and responsibilities; embellishing is an immediate disqualification, so make sure it accurately represents you. If you’re feeling insecure about any aspects of your resume (i.e. an unfinished degree or a gap year), rest assured that employers will be more accepting of honesty and transparency. 

2. Write like Hemingway: This should go without saying, but make sure the writing on your resume is clear, concise, and grammatically correct. You’d be shocked by how many resumes cross recruiters’ desks with careless errors. Take the time to triple-check your work and have someone else review it. 

3. Skills that don’t pay the bills: Toward the end of your resume, be sure to mention the hobbies and interests you have outside of the office. Think about some of your favorite things to do after work that you’re passionate about and show a bit of your personality. Keep them light, easy and relatable to anyone who might be interviewing you. Are you on an intramural dodgeball team? Are you a foodie that knows the best restaurants in town? Are you a marathon runner? Give the reader a glimpse into what makes you you. 

4. Use visuals sparingly: More people are including flashy personal brand “logos” on their resumes lately. Unless you’re in graphic design or a similar industry, I recommend steering away from them. Graphics, headshots and hard-to-read fonts typically end up being a distraction from the actual content on your resume. Remember that most people will read your resume on a mobile device, so keep it simple and help them to get to the important parts of your resume right away. 

5. Consider your digital presence: Most times, your LinkedIn profile is the first image of you a recruiter sees, so keep it updated and aligned with your formal resume at all times. You should also think about the role other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter play in your “unofficial” resume. Some recruiters will take your digital presence on other channels into consideration, so make sure you are comfortable with an employer seeing any and all of your online profiles. 

6.  A few other quick fixes you can make: 

  • Make sure you have a clear objective statement at the top of your resume 
  • Organize your experience in chronological order, with the most recent at the top
  • Hyperlink your email address
  • There’s no need to say “references available upon request” anymore
  • If you’ve been in your industry for more than five years, put more thought into the content than the length – gone are the days of one-page resumes
  • Unless you have recently graduated, move your education to the bottom of your resume
  • Write in the first person – resumes in the third-person come across as outdated 

Having looked at hundreds of resumes, these are my best tips for building a resume that will catch (and hold!) the attention of any recruiter or executive. Good luck!

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