What Makes A Good Resume?

What makes a good resume?

Despite the countless hours it may take to create a good resume, recruiters spend an average of six seconds looking at it.  Yep…six seconds.  While this may seem like depressing news, it shouldn’t be.  In fact, you can use this to your advantage.  If you learn how to make a good resume, to describe your skills as clearly and succinctly as possible, then you can land more interviews.

Here at The Upswing Report, we’ve taken some time to outline what we believe are crucial components in a good resume.

Basic Layout Of A Good Resume

A good resume is one page long and consists of the following sections: contact information, education, experience, and additional.

Your contact information on your resume should be current (address, phone, and email).  If you are still a student, you should give your campus address.  However, if your home address is interesting, use that.  For example, if you are apply for a position in the Midwest and are from Los Angeles, including your home address could lead to some positive small talk during your interview.  But if you are from a relatively unordinary place, just use your current address.  The same concept can be applied to email (steer clear of gangstaballer23@hotmail.com and the like).  If you own a website and have an email address using the URL, use it.  If not, your school or work email is perfectly fine.

The education section is pretty simple.  Include the name of your school, graduation date, degree, grade point average (if below a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, do not include), and highlight relevant extracurricular activities and academic awards.

The experience section is what really makes or breaks a good resume.  This is the bulk of your resume and your chance to show what you’re made of.  To effectively present your experiences, use the Action-Context-Result (ACR) format.  For each experience on your resume, you should include 2-4 descriptive bullet points in the ACR format describing the position.

  1. Action (what you did.  Click here for a list of action words): use a strong word that conveys a skill (Analyzed, Created, Led, etc.).  Do not use a “result” verb (Completed, Increased, Reduced, etc.) for your action word.  If still engaged in an experience, use the present tense (analyze).  If the experience has been completed, use the past tense (analyzed).
  2. Context (further explain what you did): you must assume that the reader of your resume is completely unfamiliar with your experience and explain accordingly.  The context should convey the significance (why it matters) and constraints (what you overcame).
  3. Result (what happened): quantify (increased sales by X% or $X) results whenever possible.  Qualitative results are acceptable when your result cannot be quantified.  Remember that it is always better to omit than include falsified information.

Example of an ACR bullet point for a retail sales associate position:

  • Interacted (action) with 20+ customers per day, communicated product benefits and answered questions to increase sales figures consistently (context), selling an average of $10000 of merchandise per week (result).

A few important things to consider when crafting a good resume:

  • Do not use articles (a, an, the) in your resume.
  • Avoid having excessive “white space” in the experience section.  If an ACR bullet point is two lines, but the second line only has two or three words, try to edit it down (or potentially add words if appropriate) to fill the space as much as possible.
  • Spell check is extremely important.  One typo can result in your resume getting thrown into the trash.
  • Note that the same experience can be crafted in different ways.  For example, if you are recruiting for investment banking, focus on relevant skills such as time management and prioritization of responsibilities.  If you are interviewing for a marketing position, focus on coordination and communication skills.

Last but not least is the additional section.  This is the place to show the recruiter your personality and hobbies such as sports, volunteer work, and places traveled.  We recommend including one (truthful) eye-catching bullet such as “can shuffle a deck of cards with one hand.”  Do not include mundane information such as “proficient in Microsoft Word.”

Click here for an example of a good resume.

That concludes the overview of what makes a good resume.  Realize that you may want to create multiple resumes for different positions; in fact, you probably should. You can rearrange, add, or take away your resume’s content in order to tailor it for the position.  However, it is important to have focus during your job search.  If you are applying for anything and everything, you’ll spread yourself too thin.  We recommend 1-3 resumes.

Do not falsify information.  You do not want to be rejected for an executive position in the future because someone discovered that you lied on your resume.

Overthinking your resume is another common mistake.  Again, a good resume is very important, but it’s only one piece of the job search process.  Networking and interview preparation should not be disregarded.  When it is all said and done, nothing is more important than networking in recruiting.  Recruiters want to hire someone they know by face, not by paper.  Chances are, however, that you will be interested in positions that you have not had the opportunity to network.  As such, a good resume can get your foot in the door.

If you join our mailing list and shoot us an email at info[AT]upswingreport.com, we will look over your resume for free (limited time offer).


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