You’ve decided to start your job search, but you’ve already reached a roadblock: how to make a resume that will get results.
On the job hunt, “your resume is your number one ammo,” says Monster career expert Vicki Salemi, who spent more than 15 years in corporate recruiting. When done right, your resume can open the door to an awesome job, she notes.
With stakes that high, it’s no wonder that a resume refresh also commonly fills people with existential angst. We get it—condensing your entire work history into a perfectly-worded typo-free single-page document that could potentially determine your entire career future is maybe just a little stressful.
But what if we told you it doesn’t have to be as daunting as you think? Monster has all kinds of resources to help make the whole process easier. Like you-don’t-have-to-even-lift-a-finger-if-you-don’t-want-to easier. Skip ahead to step six if this sounds like you. But if you’re more of the DIY type, follow the seven steps below to learn how to make a resume. You’ll be on the interview circuit in no time.
1. Start with the right parametersResumes are not “one-size-fits-all.” The format you should use and the information you should highlight depends upon your field, for starters. So you’ll want to structure your resume to fit the industry standard for the job you’re applying to. A quick way to start figuring this out? Check out Monster’s resume templates by industry.
Your experience also plays a part in structure. The answer to the age-old question of “how long should my resume be?” is that it depends upon how much time you’ve got under your belt. As a general rule of thumb, job seekers with under three years of experience should aim for one page, but those with more years in the field could go up to two.
Keep in mind that a recruiter doesn’t have time to sift through the next great American novel. Back in her recruiting days, Salemi says she usually spent no more than three seconds on a resume. “Being succinct is key,” Salemi says. “Recruiters will lose focus and attention if you name every single responsibility you’ve ever had."
Lastly, there’s the question of chronological (jobs listed in order by date) or functional (jobs listed by relevance). We answer that question in the article “Should you use a chronological or functional resume?” but the gist is that functional typically makes sense unless you’re a job changer, are just starting out or have gaps in your work history. Otherwise, go chrono.
3. Use keywords to help you break throughYou can't learn how to make a resume without keywords. When recruiters post jobs, Salemi says, they typically don’t read every resume that comes in—they’ll often start by having their “applicant tracking system” (a fancy name for recruiting software) filter out resumes based on keywords. Those keywords are terms or phrases the hiring manager has deemed to be valuable to the job.
So you’ll want to pack your resume with keywords… but you also need to be careful not to go overboard, since a human will hopefully read your resume eventually.
Thus, sprinkle those keywords throughout and provide a little bit of context with each. For example, a social media savvy job seeker might include the names of key platforms with some explanation such as, “Leveraged Instagram to showcase happy customers, increasing followers by 10,000.”
Need help coming up with keywords? Take words and phrases directly from the job description—mirroring the ad in order of mention as the hiring manager will typically put the most coveted skill sets at the top, says Salemi. Watch the video below to learn more about using keywords on your resume.
See all 5 steps and the complete Monster article