I love when people ask what I do for a living.
Depending on the social situation, I start by saying that I run an online business from home. Most people don’t ask for more detail. I often wonder if it’s because there are so many “work from home” gimmicks that all sound the same. Some people ask what my business is, though. I love the look on their faces when I say I write resumes for job seekers.
Everybody hates writing resumes!
That’s what makes being a resume writer so rewarding. I get to take one stressful and hated task off of my client’s plate, create a job-winning document that makes my client feel like a champion, and speed up a tiresome and time-consuming process.
These are the top reasons why most people hate writing resumes and a few strategies that will help you get better at writing resumes.
There Are Too Many Templates To Choose From
Hold up. Most resume templates are not Applicant Tracking software-friendly. If you’re spending hours searching for the perfect resume template, this will be an easy fix…
First, let me explain why you shouldn’t waste your time on resume templates. If you’re uploading your resume to online job applications (which most job seekers will do for the majority of their job search), your resume won’t even be seen by a human being unless it gets through this software. Most resume templates have special fonts, graphics and icons, text boxes, and multi-column layouts. While these may look flashy and make you think your resume will “stand out,” these design elements are keeping your resume from even being seen.
Stick to common fonts, avoid adding any graphics or pictures, and keep all of your text in the body of the document without adding columns to organize your information.
It Never Looks Right
If you have a Type A personality or get frustrated because your resume never quite looks right to you, you’re not alone. Your resume is supposed to reflect you, your personal brand, your strengths, and your achievements. That’s a lot to cram into one or two pages, and your resume likely looks dense and a chore to read (especially if you reduce the margins).
To get better at writing resumes, follow this model to make sure you include the most valuable information an employer will want to see:
Contact Information: Name, City of Residence, Phone Number, Email Address, LinkedIn profile URL (if you have one with additional information to share)
Branding Statement: Use this Branding Statement Cheat Sheet to help you craft a job-winning Branding Statement that introduces your qualifications, highlights your most valuable skills, and showcases the unique value you offer to employers.
Key Skills or Areas of Expertise: List 6-8 of your top job-related skills which should reflect the keywords found in the job posting.
Experience: Company Name and Location (City and State), Job Title, Dates Employed, a paragraph summary describing your typical tasks which should also reflect the keywords found in the job posting, and a bullet list showcasing your top achievements or related skills in action.
Education: College or University Name and Location (City and State), Degree, and Major
If you’re feeling the need to add anything else, consider directing employers to your LinkedIn profile (Example: “See LinkedIn profile for additional experience, project details, and volunteer experience.”)
The Words Just Don’t Come
On the opposite spectrum, maybe your resume is looking rather empty because you’re one of the many who struggles to talk about yourself. To get better at writing resumes, talk about what the employer needs or wants. Adopting this perspective will help you develop a resume that gets an employer’s attention.
To get the words flowing, start by answering these questions and focusing your resume on these answers:
What qualifications do you have that make you the best person for this job?
What skills do you possess that relate to this job?
What are some typical tasks that you have performed in previous jobs that relate to this job?
What have you achieved for previous employers that you may able to achieve for this employer?
It Feels Like Bragging
If you feel like resume writing is too similar to bragging, then let’s work on changing your perspective. Imagine that you are a hiring manager and you need to fill an open position quickly. You realize that recruiting, hiring, and training can be expensive so you need to find the best fit as quickly as possible. When you’re reviewing resumes from applicants, what are you going to be looking for?
To stop feeling like you’re bragging, focus on the needs of the employer while you’re writing your resume. Achievements don’t make you look arrogant. They reinforce the skills and experiences you have that employers are looking for.
It’s A Gamble Whether Or Not It’s Ever Seen
If you’re applying to any and every job posting without tailoring your resume for each job, you are likely not getting much of a response from employers. The first obstacle is getting through the Applicant Tracking software employers use to collect resume and narrow down candidates.
Assuming you’re not using a resume template and your resume is digitally compatible with Applicant Tracking software, your resume needs to have the right keywords in order for you to be ranked a top qualified candidate. Find these keywords in the job description, qualifications or requirements, and preferred skills sections and naturally integrate them throughout your resume. Tools like Jobscan can also help you find these keywords quickly and get better at writing resumes.
Focus on creating a resume that presents you as the solution to your ideal employer's problem.