Complete Guide to Resumes

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What is a resume?

A resume is a document that summarizes your job history, experience and education. You can submit a well-crafted resume to an employer to present yourself as the best candidate for a position. In many cases, a resume can help the hiring manager determine if they will invite you for an interview. Writing a strong resume is one of the most important steps you can take to advance your career. You can follow the guidelines and tips provided in this article to learn everything you need to know about resume writing and how to highlight your best skills when writing your own resume.

Best skills to list on your resume

The best skills to include on your resume are those relevant to the position you are applying for. Skills are often categorized as either ‘hard’ or ‘soft.’ Hard skills are the technical skills necessary to perform the job duties. These are skills you acquire from education or on-the-job training. Examples of hard skills include operating equipment, software proficiency and bookkeeping. Soft skills are skills necessary to work well with others. You learn soft skills primarily through social interaction and understanding what behavior is acceptable. Soft skills include communication, time management and prioritizing.

How to list skills on your resume

Providing exceptional customer service requires a wide range of soft skills, for example. These skills are especially important for employees in the service industry or who regularly work with the public. However, customer service skills are applicable and valuable to most employers, since all jobs require working with other people and completing customer requests, even if your managers and coworkers are your customers. Demonstrating good customer service skills may lead to new opportunities, regardless of your industry. Examples of soft skills include communication, patience and resilience. 

Here are some steps to list skills on your resume:

1. First, review the job description and highlight keywords

Review the job description for the position you are applying to and identify keywords in the duties, responsibilities and required experience that are a good match for your own skills.

2. Second, consider your own skills and how they align with the job description

Consider the skills you’ve developed throughout your life. For example, the customer service skills and experience that match the keywords you highlighted in the job description are the skills you will include in the resume you submit for this job.

3. Third, include a skills section on your resume

Create a section of your resume dedicated to listing your skills. Use this section to list specific skills that match the job description keywords and demonstrate you are a good fit for the position.

4. Fourth, highlight skills throughout your resume

When listing experience from previous employment, include experience that demonstrates the skills you selected. Use the keywords and similar phrasing from the job description to describe your experience.

How to improve interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are necessary to build relationships and work well with others. While other soft skills, like time management and prioritizing, contribute to your ability to successfully complete assigned tasks, interpersonal skills contribute to your ability to collaborate and work with others as part of a team. Developing interpersonal skills may increase your value to employers by demonstrating you are a positive, trusted and reliable team member. Examples of interpersonal skills include communication, empathy and a positive attitude. 

Here are some steps for improving your interpersonal skills:

1. First, reflect on your daily interactions with others

After each interaction, consider the outcome; and specifically how your actions affected the outcome. Identify things you could have done differently to improve the result of that particular interaction.

2. Then, request feedback from a trusted source

Explain to a trusted friend or colleague that you are working to improve your interpersonal skills, and ask them to provide constructive feedback about your interactions.

3. Next, study interpersonal skills

Research interpersonal skills to learn more about how to improve specific skills. Then, implement what you learn in your day-to-day interactions to practice and strengthen the skill.

4. Finally, attend workshops or seminars

Workshops or seminars designed to improve interpersonal skills provide the opportunity to learn about and practice skills, with immediate feedback in a structured environment. Workshops or seminars may include activities and role-play to provide the opportunity for attendees to build practical experience developing new skills.

Resume writing

Writing a great resume is one of the most important steps in applying for a new position. A great resume provides a picture of your most relevant skills, qualifications and experience that sells you as the best candidate for the job. Learn how to identify the skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for, craft action-oriented bullet points describing your experience and format a resume that will grab recruiters’ attention.

How to write a resume headline

A resume headline is a brief statement located toward the top of your resume to communicate your most relevant experience and qualifications with precision. In today’s competitive job market, recruiters have very little time to spend on each resume or application. A well-crafted resume headline will ensure recruiters see the most important information, which may encourage them to evaluate your resume in more detail. The headline should highlight one specific attribute of your relevant experience and qualifications, so your best qualities are what recruiters see first. Learn to write a confident resume headline that entices recruiters to read more.

Example: Experienced Writer with Published Work in Over 15 Lifestyle Print and Online Publications

Here are some steps for writing a strong resume headline:

1. First, identify relevant keywords

Review the job description and consider your experience to identify the best keywords to use in your resume headline.

2. Second, use keywords from your experience

Highlight your most relevant experience by using keywords from that experience in your resume headline. When evaluating your accomplishments against the job description to select keywords, consider if the keyword is a primary or secondary function of the position, your years of experience, if you have any awards or accolades related to the function, and what special skills you have.

3. Third, use keywords that show confidence

The goal of a resume headline is to quickly sell yourself as a candidate worth pursuing. Use words like ‘experienced’ and ‘ambitious’ to communicate confidence in your knowledge, skills and abilities.

4. Then, be concise with a brief statement

The goal is to grab the recruiter’s attention, communicate your most relevant qualifications and encourage the recruiter to read further into your resume. The most effective resume headlines are not even complete sentences. 

5. Next, use specific details to support your qualifications

Instead of using vague or cliche words, use words that are specific to your experience and your qualifications. The resume headline can include awards, years of experience, data supporting past performance, special skills and important soft skills. It should be specific to how your experience and qualifications are a good fit for the position.

6. Then, place it at the top of your resume and use title case

The goal of a resume headline is to grab the recruiter’s attention and get them to read more. Place your resume headline at the top of your resume so it is the next thing a recruiter sees after your contact information. Capitalize the first letter in each word of your resume headline for title case formatting. Using title case draws attention to it, allows it to stand out and improves readability for the recruiters.

7. Finally, make it unique for each job you apply for

The resume headline should be unique for each position. The point is to demonstrate your value to that employer for that position. When crafting a resume headline, you want to use the most relevant experience and qualifications for that position. Do not copy and paste the headline from resumes you have sent for other jobs; even a similar position at a different company will use different keywords in their listing, so be sure you are speaking to each one directly.