October 15, 2020
A resume is an important tool for your job search because it offers a page or two where you can display your top skills and qualities. However, a resume is much more than that. Resumes help employers make hiring decisions and help you get your first interview. That’s why it matters how you structure your resume and what information you decide to include. In this article, you’ll learn why a resume is important and get actionable resume tips that may help you achieve your next career move.
Read More: Resume Format Guide (With Tips and Examples)
Why do employers care about your resume?
Resumes, usually accompanied by customized cover letters, get sent to employers to determine your eligibility and qualifications for a job. Employers use resumes to get a deeper understanding of candidate skills, strengths and experience. Your resume should reflect achievements, awards, education, experience and any other outstanding accomplishments that align with your career path and goals. Your resume is your first point of contact with the employer and sets the tone for subsequent steps such as first interview, second interview, pre-screening and on-boarding.
Types of resumes
Candidates who want to move forward in the interview process need to have a strong resume. There are two types of resumes that can make an impact with potential employers. In this section, we’ll review each type so you can decide which is best for you:
- Chronological order resumes
- Custom resumes
Chronological order resumes
Most resumes are ordered this way. It’s traditional to put your most recent job at the top of the experience section. From there, experience goes in descending order. Ideally, you want to display seven to 10 years of relevant work experience, in addition to other accolades. Chronological resumes usually include work experience and education both sorted by chronological order.
A custom resume prioritizes relevant education and experience. This might be used by someone who is changing careers or new to the workforce or someone with gaps in their employment. It can also be used for people with a lot of exceptional experience in a specialized industry. Highlighting your most important and relevant career choices by choosing this format may help you stand out.
Custom resumes are excellent for people in industries that require specific qualifications to be met. For example, an outside salesperson who has a career structured around facilities maintenance might use a custom resume to show sales experience related to maintenance before other outside sales experience no matter the chronology.
Related: Resume Templates and Samples
Why do you need a resume?
In today’s competitive market of professional jobs, a resume is usually a base requirement for moving forward in the interview process. A good resume will immediately display to employers why the candidate is a good fit. Here are some reasons why you need a resume to get your next job. An effective resume:
- Outlines your relevant skills and experience
- Displays the benefits you offer employers
- Grabs the attention of employers
- Matches you to the position
- Can lead to an interview
Outlines your relevant skills and experience
A well-structured resume clearly highlights your most attractive skills and experience to potential employers. This allows them to move forward with the best candidate. It’s important to make sure your most recent skills and experiences are reflected in your resume for this reason. A strong resume uses formatting elements like color, appropriate margins and design to ensure relevant work experience is shown in such a way that highlights achievements.
Displays the benefits you offer employers
More importantly, a resume shouldn’t just offer skills and experience, it should tell employers what you bring to the company. For example, if you’re leaving a sales position, instead of just saying that you are a “high performer,” say you “achieved $250,000 of new media sales in one year”. This allows employers to understand the value you bring to the company in terms that are quantifiable.
If you can use three or four achievements under each piece or relevant experience that offer verifiable metrics. Consider things like increasing profit or reducing loss by 5%, growing a social media following by 1,500 users or increasing sales by 10%.
Grabs the attention of employers
The part of the resume known as “above the fold”—usually the top quarter of the resume—is considered the most attention-grabbing. Make sure to include important summarized information above the fold in addition to your name and contact information. Another way you can get an employer’s attention is to use a layout that allows for appropriate color or images.
Some people will use a headshot portrait or personal logo to brand themselves to employers. If you have to print your resume, always make sure to use a resume paper stock that sticks out. There are a lot of options to choose from, so pay attention to industry standards when deciding on paper.