5 steps to a rockstar resume

Creating a resume can be a daunting experience. Do you need a cover letter? How do you write a good cover letter? Which jobs should you include? What if you’ve never been employed before? 

Here are some tips on how to make a resume that could net you an interview, if not a job. 

  1. Write a cover letter – and make it personal.

Rebecca Safier wrote for job-searching website Glassdoor, “Instead of treating your resume like a form letter, tailor it to each new role.” 

Having a detailed cover letter explaining to the employer how you’re a good fit for the job can set you apart from other applicants if a cover letter is not required. Additionally, don’t be too vague with who you’re addressing your cover letter to. Instead of writing “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern,” do some research ahead of time to find the specific person to address. Even if you address it to the wrong person, they’ll know who to forward your resume to in that event. 

  1. Choose a unique template – but don’t be too flashy.

A basic resume template may be too basic to catch anybody’s eye, but something too artsy or visually busy, depending on the job you’re applying for, can make a resume indecipherable or hard to take seriously.

“Use a simple font such as Times New Roman or Arial in 10-, 11- or 12-point size,” Safier wrote. “If you’re seeing a creative position, you could benefit from incorporating a unique design element into your resume. Otherwise, stick to a simple, elegant design.”

Having a properly designed resume can be the difference between an interview and the recycling bin, so be sure to do some research for the job you’re applying for ahead of time. 

  1. Tailor your skills summary to the job.

Including a summary of skills is required for any resume but listing the correct skills relevant to the job is the extra step that could get you an interview. Charley Mendoza, a writer for Envato Tuts+, advised against including irrelevant skills on your resume, no matter how impressive it might look.

“Employers call applicants for an interview only when their resume matches the specific professional skill set they need,” Mendoza wrote. “Padding your resume with a list of skills, as impressive as it looks, won’t help your application if those skills aren’t related to the job.”

A safer and more secure bet is to list skills according to what the job listing requires. This is especially helpful if you use the same or similar keywords as the job listing. 

  1. Proactive verbs are the name of the game.

Using words like “conducted,” “streamlined,” “provided” or “solved” is a lot more powerful than “responsible for” or similar passive statements, Safier wrote. 

“Power verbs like these put you in the driver’s seat,” Safier said. “As you build your resume, remember to sell yourself. If the resume could be about anyone with a similar work history, you need to rework the language to sound more proactive and unique.”

  1. When listing past jobs, filter out the least relevant to the job you want.

When listing past work experience, especially if you’re relatively new to the workforce, it can be difficult to parse out what you need to include. 

For example, if you’re applying for an office job, it would be more pertinent to list skills pertinent for that position before your experience in fast food. If you haven’t had professional experience relative to the one you’re applying for, you can still word the skills you learned on the job in a way that explains why you are good for the position.