Tossing your hat into the ring for a fresh new job?
What should your resume look like?
After writing nearly 15,000 resumes to date, I’m well-qualified to answer this question.
To catch an employer’s eye and position you as a premier candidate, your resume requires a well-thought out strategy.
Like this award-winning Chief Marketing Officer resume, a bold look and ATS-relevant writing strategy will help get your resume noticed among the competition.
According to Hannah Morgan of Career Sherpa in What Does a Modern Resume Look Like, you’ll need to put relevant information in the RIGHT places to guide the reader.
Here’s what’s your resume should look like to attract attention and match employer requirements:
1 – Your resume should contain strong metrics to back up your claims.
In a competitive job market, you can no longer list your job descriptions and call it a day.
Instead, you’ll need to capture quantifiable proof of performance in dollars, percentages, or other figures. By displaying context and metrics, your resume will quickly express your value proposition.
To get started adding figures to your resume, make a list of top career wins, such as major contracts, large initiatives, productivity improvements, or cost savings.
Next, put figures in each of your success stories, such as profit gains or improvements in market share. Your resume content should look like this, with brief accomplishments showing specific results:
Expanded revenue 45% by opening APAC and European markets, using compelling marketing campaigns against established competitors.
Captured $40M in savings with efficiency projects identifying security, automation, and systems improvements.
2 – Your resume should employ a dash of color.
The most powerful resumes use color to distinguish core personal brand elements and data.
As an example, this Healthcare CEO and COO resume uses a single deep-blue tone to set off important blocks of information, coupled with shades of gray and some gold for contrast.
Straightforward in design, it allows for simple navigation through a highly technical career. Your resume should also look like a professional presentation for the best results.
To get started using color on your resume, start by changing one facet (such as your headings) for a fresh look.
3 – Your resume should contain a powerful synopsis of your career.
It sounds simple, right? However, it’s difficult to make your resume look like a reflection of your personality and work ethic.
To truly express your value, you’ll need to take a hard look at your career wins, and answer the following:
- What results have you achieved that are considered above and beyond expectations?
- What do you consistently accomplish that shows a pattern of leadership? These might be turnarounds, cost-saving initiatives, or ideas for growth.
- How did you attain these results? What models or steps did you create that are unique in your industry or company?
- What type of feedback do you receive on the quality of your work?
Then, use your answers to build a picture of each career success, including the context of your achievements and the actions you took, such as these examples:
Built 187% average sales record by consulting with decision-makers and overcoming objections with personal customer references.
Turned around troubled healthcare account and landed $2B+ deals using responsive follow-through – displacing Fortune 500 competitors.
Note that EACH sentence tells what you did, how you did, and what the outcome was, all wrapped up in a clear and short accomplishment. Storytelling in your resume is one of the most powerful ways to demonstrate leadership skills!
4 – Your resume should use headlines.
Just like a marketing campaign, your resume should look like a brochure or flyer – using space-saving headlines that quickly drive home your point.
This award-winning Chief Revenue Officer resume shows headlines that describe a record of growth and customer retention:
Shattered Growth Records at AT&T By Closing Gaps Between Vision & Execution
Generated #1 Revenue & Customer Churn Metrics for 16 Straight Quarters
What should YOUR resume contain? Accomplishments outlining what you’ve consistently delivered, summed up by headlines to help break up the text.
To do this, group achievements that represent a specific competency (or from a group of jobs), then write a concise line that represents these wins. You’ll have the right formula for a persuasive headline.
5 – Your resume should use keywords to satisfy employer needs and match their job postings.
What else is important for the look of your resume? Keywords that match your target jobs – because these will satisfy both human readers and Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) systems.
No, ATS systems don’t “ignore” your resume or send it down a black hole… but keywords are crucial to showing employers you can meet their needs.
To find keywords, gather several job postings that interest you, then extract each skill you possess from the descriptions (such as Budget Management, Sales Strategy, IT Operations, Prospecting, or Team Building). Aim for at least 30 skills, particularly those you see repeated for each job.
Add keywords by blending them into your job descriptions and achievement bullets to help draw attention (and an ATS match).
6 – Your resume can benefit from a chart.
If you’ve never used a visual element in your resume, you’re not alone. However, now is the perfect time to upgrade your resume presentation!
A chart is one of the best ways to show your achievements, particularly if you led a long-term growth trend or saved costs at work.
By supplying a picture instead of dense blocks of text, your resume will showcase valuable data.
As an example, this Business Development resume employs a growth performance chart to show multi-category revenue wins, allowing the reader to quickly skim for more detail. This tutorial on charts in Microsoft Word can give you a quick-start lesson.
NOTE: You’ll want to put the chart “in front” of text that conveys the same data, just in case your resume is reviewed using software or read by ATS in text form.
7 – Your resume should be customized with innovative headings.
Wondering what else your resume should look like? Don’t forget the often-ignored section headings, such as Work History or Education.
You can custom-design these headings to represent your OWN brand. For example, sales wins could be shown under “Sales & Market Share Results.” If you lack formal education, you can still include an Education section titled “Professional Development and Training.” The idea is to explain your value-add with these descriptions.
If you are applying to online postings, however, submit a resume with standard headings (which lets the ATS parse them correctly), then follow up by sending your innovative resume version to a hiring manager.
So what should your resume look like?
A compelling, powerful tool – complete with strong content and conveying undeniable value to employers.
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