10 Resume Writing Tips to Impress Employers

By Indeed Editorial Team

25 August 2020

A resume is a document that you send to potential employers when applying to jobs. It contains your accomplishments and skills as well as your educational background and relevant work experience. Learning how to create a successful resume can help you impress employers and increase your chances of getting an interview. In this article, we provide you with tips to help you craft and hone your resume.

Tips for writing a successful resume

Resumes vary greatly depending on the individual. However, there is a general framework you can follow. You must present your unique skills and experience, and you should do it in a way that makes you stand out to potential employers. Here are some tips to help you craft a successful resume:

  • Review resumes templates from your industry

  • Incorporate common keywords used in job descriptions

  • Prioritise important information

  • Choose a professional layout and font

  • Optimise your skills section

  • Update and include your contact information

  • Customise your resume for every employer

  • Include non-standard work

  • Update your references

  • Edit and proofread your resume

Review resumes templates from your industry

Learn from expert resumes that people have successfully used to get jobs in your industry. Look for any common features and layouts people use as well as the typical order of resume sections. This can help you understand what employers in your field are looking for. For example, if you notice that a lot of resumes include specific, measurable details, then you might want to include some of your own in your resume.

Incorporate common keywords used in job descriptions

One of the most important resume writing tips is to include common keywords you find in job descriptions. These keywords and phrases show you what the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate, so be sure to include them in your resume to help you stand out from other applicants.

Whenever you find a job to apply for, look through the job description and write down the common words that appear under the 'qualifications' and 'requirements' sections. You may also find important keywords in the 'roles and responsibilities' section. Match your skills to these keywords and include them in your resume.

Prioritise important information

Prioritisation is essential. Hiring managers and recruiters often have many resumes to review at one time, so you need to make a good impression by putting important information first. Your most impressive accomplishments should be at the beginning of your resume, and you should put all of your relevant skills where the employer can find them easily. If you have worked with any well-known names or brands, you can include them in your resume as well to impresses the reader and show your abilities as an employee.

It's also important to prioritise your most relevant work experiences. Use the reverse-chronological order to list your work history so that your most recent jobs appear first.

Choose a professional layout and font

All successful resumes use a professional layout and font. The goal is to make your resume as clear and easy to read as possible. Here are a few formatting tips that you should follow:

  • Divide your resume into sections. Each section in your resume should be relevant to the specific employer as well as your own situation. For example, if you have just graduated, you can choose to cut the 'work experience' section from your resume.

  • Use bold, italics, underline and headings. You can use these typography tools to emphasise the different sections in your resume and highlight your most important information.

  • Balance space and text. Your content should be easy to skim. In order to achieve this, you can use bullets to list information. Aim for a consistent amount of blank space around your text, but avoid large empty spaces.

  • Ensure that your resume is short. Try to stick to two pages at most, though one page is more common. Remember, recruiters don't usually have much time to go through each application, so it's important to be concise.

  • Write your content using a basic font. When choosing a font, use 11-12 point for normal text and 15-16 point for headings. Make sure to choose a professional font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman, Georgia or Arial.

  • Include a 1-inch margin on all sides of your resume. This is the most common margin, but if you cannot fill your resume, you can increase your spacing to 1.15 or 1.5 inches, just make sure to avoid having too much white space.

  • Convert your resume into a PDF file. Using a PDF helps preserve your resume's formatting, so it will look the way you intended it to no matter what.

  • Offer explanations. If you have considerable career gaps, offer a short explanation rather than leaving any sections blank.

Optimise your skills section

An effective tip for creating a good resume is to optimise your skills section. First, look through the job description to assess what skills and qualifications the employer is looking for. Then, list every relevant hard and soft skill you have and see which ones match the required roles and responsibilities. Once you know what skills you should include in your resume, find ways to describe them with examples to show employers proof of your qualifications.

For example: 'Partnered with Google and led my team into improving my department's efficiency by 25%'.

A detail like this shows that you have proven leadership skills, and employers may infer that you have organisation and time management skills as well.

Update and include your contact information

Make sure that the contact information you include in your resume is always up to date so that employers can reach you easily. Include your residential address if you intend to apply for a job that is available in your local area. If employers want someone who can start straight away, then you become a priority.

You should always include your email address, but avoid using your current employer's office email address. Instead, choose a personal email address, but avoid using something that might sound unprofessional, like iamastar@email.com.au. If you think your personal email address might not be appropriate enough, create a new one using your first and last name or your first initial and last name.

Other things you can include with your contact information include professional social media accounts and professional websites or portfolios, but only if you believe they enhance your professional standing.

Customise your resume for every employer

It's important to customise your resume each time you apply for a new job. When you do this, pay close attention to the employer's instructions to make sure you have included all of the required information. Making your resume look like it was made for this specific job proves that you are meticulous and serious about the opportunity.

Whenever you create a custom resume, save it as a new document. This way, you can always go back to the original and adjust it when you need to, and you can go back to one of the customised resumes if you find similar positions in the future.

Include non-standard work

In your resume, make sure to include any non-standard work that you have done in the past. This includes freelance work and part-time jobs as well as contract work and volunteering. It is better to include these less traditional jobs than to leave large gaps between your full-time jobs. This information can also improve your career prospects because it shows that you are a well-rounded candidate.

Update your references

References can boost your chances of getting a job, but you need to be careful about how you include them in your resume. Make sure you have asked all of your referees permission to include them in your resume. If you have, go through their contact information to see if it is all up to date. The people who agreed to be your referees could have changed jobs, which means their contact information might be out of date.

If your referees have changed jobs, you have two options. You could ask someone else from your previous company to act as your referee, or you could find out where your current referees work and get their new contact information. Weigh the pros and cons of both options carefully to determine which one works best for your specific situation.

Edit and proofread your resume

You should always edit and proofread your resume to ensure it does not have grammatical errors and that the language is simple but professional. Your recruiter may not be familiar with industry jargon, so you need to explain information in a way anyone can understand. You should also use active language and action verbs that clarify your efforts and make your specific accomplishments stand out.

The information you provide should be concise and easy to read as well. For example, instead of saying, 'I was responsible for meeting monthly sales targets', you could say, 'Regularly attained and exceeded monthly sales targets'. The latter statement is more forceful and specific and uses better active language.

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