Yawn. Who isn’t? Your résumé is not a point-by-point recapitulation of everything you’ve ever done. It’s a marketing tool that promotes you and your professional accomplishments. Using precious real estate on your resume to say that you’re a team player is a colossal waste of both effort and space. With any promotional material, it’s imperative not to merely state the product’s benefits. You need to demonstrate them. Your résumé needs to do this as well. You showcase your benefits by highlighting your most impressive achievements. That’s at a high level. In practice, what else must you include on your resume?
I’m glad you asked. Here is my Top 10 list of critical elements of your résumé.
Quantified achievements. This is the Number 1 thing that your resume must convey.
Basic formatting. Fancy graphics and nonstandard fonts can get your résumé expelled from an applicant tracking system (ATS) really quickly. Bold and italics are fine, but beyond that, decorate your resume judiciously.
A way to contact you. This should be a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many résumés I’ve reviewed that lack a phone number, an email address, or both. This is really important.
A powerful summary. Summarize your career and your accomplishments near the top of your resume. This is premium real estate, so use it wisely. Major achievements should be highlighted in your summary.
An easy-to-follow, chronological format. Don’t go for the so-called “functional” résumé format. Recruiters hate that. Hiring managers hate it. It makes it look like you’re trying to hide something. Lay out your career so that the reader can easily understand its trajectory.
Keywords. Keywords are king. Be sure that your résumé is optimized with them.
Certifications. If you are certified in something that is relevant to your industry include them along with the name of the certifying body.
A coherent story. Your résumé should convey the story of your career and your accomplishments. Ensure that it flows in a way that’s easy to digest and is compelling. Make it so that the hiring manager or recruiter wants to read it.
Impeccable grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Few things are as immediately repellant as a résumé that is rife with crimes against the English language. Ask someone to proofread for you. Then ask someone else for a second opinion. You can’t be too careful with this one.