Having a great business resume is vital to getting a job. Here are some of the best things to include on your next resume.
You can get the job done – but if companies won’t even give you an interview, it’s hard to prove your competence! Love it or hate it, a great business resume is often the only way to get your foot in the door. Here are the things that every phenomenal resume should have.
#1: Correct Contact Information
Modern resumes should include your name, your most-used phone number (which isn’t necessarily your home number – write the one people can reach you with), your professional email, your LinkedIn and Twitter social media accounts, and the web address of your portfolio, blog, or personal website. You do not need to include your current address. This is a change from the past – but with so many people moving for jobs, seeming like you’re not local may encourage hiring managers to put you aside infavor of people they think are easier to get interviews with.
You can still include your address if you’re applying for a local job, but leaving it off can provide you with some precious space.
#2: A Summary Or An Objective
You should only have one of these two things. Objectives are better for low-level or entry positions, including students, scholarships, career changers, or people with career gaps.
Summaries are better when you’re trying to advance on your current career path and have some experience you can highlight.
Regardless of which one you use, it should be short and snappy. It should also highlight your relevant skills and any progress you’ve made on your career thus far. The trick is to keep the focus on the company recruiting you. Even when describing your objectives, it should be worded in a way that suggests some value for the employer.
Remember, companies don’t care about you. The best way to get hired is to convince a company that you are the best choice for helping them – not to talk about how much they can help you.
#3: Relevant Experience
This is where a lot of people get tripped up. Your experience section should be limited to the last 10-15 years, and ideally, each part will be relevant to the job you’re applying for.
If the company you worked for isn’t particularly well-known in your area, consider adding 1-2 lines about the business before you start explaining what you did there. For example, you might have worked for a Standardized Patient-providing company that offers sample & patients; for med school students to practice bedside manners on. Most people don’t know what a Standardized Patient is, though, so you’d need to explain that.
Remember, the description should be no more than two lines at most. Try to word it in a way that suggests benefits for the company you’re applying for. Teamwork, mentoring, handling tight deadlines, and similar subjects tend to go over well.
Whether or not you needed to describe the company, use up to six bullet points (no more) to explain your role and responsibilities at each job you listed. Lead each with an action verb, which gives off the impression of actively getting things done. The last thing you want to do is make a company think all you did was lie around – unless you want to be a professional bed tester, anyway. (That’s a real job!)
#4: Add Numbers For Achievements
No, not more phone numbers. Instead, a great business resume will have facts or figures that support your accomplishments. For example, “Increased traffic to company site by 20x in 9 months” is significantly more impressive than “Increased traffic to the company site.”
When you use numbers, you’re encouraging a recruiter to imagine the same kind of performance for them – and that’s incredibly appealing. The best part is that you’re not even promising to produce the same results. You’re just explaining what you’ve already done.
Facts aren’t quite as good as numbers, but they’re acceptable when you don’t have a way to measure things accurately. Either way, achievements for a company are something you should include whenever possible. You can also list accomplishments in your hobbies if they’re relevant. Speaking of…
#5: Detail Some Hobbies
Most people don’t do this – but in recent years, detailing hobbies has become an increasingly valuable part of a resume. The reason for this is that many companies are placing a priority on personality and how well you can fit into the company culture. There are two particularly helpful elements to this.
A relevant hobby is something associated with the business itself. For example, if you want to work at a company selling boats, having a ship of your own that you’ve sailed for years can help you come across as an expert who knows how to talk shop and fun.
An indirect hobby isn’t obviously associated with the job but has some aspects to it that a company might find valuable. This could include cooperating with other people, solving problems, meeting deadlines, or otherwise helping you learn and maintain useful skills while also helping you come across as a well-rounded person.
Under no circumstances should you list a hobby that goes against the company’s beliefs or goals. You should also try to avoid hot-button topics. For example, listing hunting as a hobby probably isn’t a good
choice if you want to work for a non-profit that promotes vegetarianism. As a good rule of thumb, any hobby involving something that could be a contentious political issue should be left off your resume.
#6: Valuable Skills
Some skills are better than others. You may be the greatest underwater basket-weaver in history, but let’s be honest here, that’s not a relevant skill for most jobs. While the most-valued skills vary by position, there are a few that companies find particularly valuable regardless of position.
Skill #1: Communication
Companies like people who can communicate – both verbally and in writing. Whether you’re giving a report, suggesting a course of action, or collaborating with the rest of a team, communication skills are prized for almost every single job. Ideally, you’ll be able to explain this on another part of your resume – but either way, you’ll want to include it.
Skill #2: Strategic Thinking and Planning
These two skills go together and focus on your ability to meet a schedule and get the job done. Most jobs require at least some planning if you’re going to succeed, even if it’s just figuring out when to restock certain supplies. A good planner can also figure out how to adjust for unexpected problems.
Skill #3: Analytical Thinking and Research
These aren’t relevant for quite as many jobs, but most employers still value these traits. Analytical thinking focuses on identifying and resolving problems, often with the use of data the business has collected. Even if you don’t work in marketing, analytics can be used to measure your progress and help the company understand the value you provide to them.
Skill #4: Teamwork
Every job requires an element of teamwork, even if it’s just reporting to a supervisor. Being able to work well with others is essential to a business resume. If an employer thinks you can’t work with others or will cause too much conflict, they’re not even going to read the rest of your resume. You’ll be out then and there.
Skill #5: Leadership
Finally, most companies like seeing employees who can take the lead and get things done – whether or not you’re leading others. Keep in mind that this is only most positions because there are times when companies genuinely don’t want you to think for yourself. You’ll have to look at each job to figure out which type it is, but at the very least, it’s better to have at least some leadership qualities.
#7: A Clear Similarity To The Job Description
Job descriptions are the single most important thing to reference when you’re creating a resume. These tell you what sorts of skills, experience, and education a hiring manager finds most valuable.
You do not need to meet every single requirement in a job post – not for most positions, anyway. Hiring managers are notorious for creating unrealistic wish lists about perfect candidates. It’s okay to skip a few as long as you meet most of the requirements on the listing.
Be sure to address these when you can. For example, most resumes don’t need to have a “references upon request” line because companies know they can ask for it. However, if a job description specifically requests three references, you should include those.
Few things will hurt your chances more than a hiring manager getting the sense that you’re sending them a canned resume that doesn’t match what they’re looking for. They should feel like you are interested specifically in the job they want to hire for, and tailoring your resume to the job description is the best way of doing this.
(Many people have a mostly-complete resume they can adjust for each company they’re applying to. This is fine – and, indeed, a great way to save time.)