Now that we’ve covered the value of resumes and common mistakes that will prevent any resume from succeeding, its time to talk about the core elements your resume needs.
A great resume design and format answers two questions for the reader with almost no effort:
- Can you do the job?
- Do I want to work with you?
Cleverly designed formats, while attractive from a distance, force the reader to bounce around the page to find answers to these questions instead of having the most impactful information first.
So, while a format that is nice to look at is helpful, if it annoys a hiring manager, it is now working against you.
In resumes I advocate for putting the following sections in your resume in this order.
- Awards (Optional)
Your skill section needs to represent your technical skills and relevant knowledge. This can be a simple list.
Now, people get worked up about how much to put here and how much to put here. You can put something if you’re comfortable talking about it. You need to put minimally what matches the job description.
Some of you might feel weird about me qualifying skills by things you can discuss, but your interview is a discussion about your skills. By putting there you’re inviting your interviewers to find out what you can and cannot do and how deep your knowledge is.
Another way to look at it is, you don’t decide if you have enough of that skill, your interviewers do. So if you can discuss it, list it.
If you have awards or any other kind of flair that you think will help you stand out, I like to put that next. What you list here will likely be of no relevance to your reader, but pointing out that you won some competition gives the indication that you’re above average.
I simply put the award and the date it was awarded. Since my reader doesn’t know anything about it, I want them to see that I earned the award more than taking up space explaining what it is. Let them ask about it in the interview!
So awards, public speaking, publications, certifications are all things that can go here. Keep it short.
This and your technical skills are the two most important sections. For your experience, you can list any and all experience you have starting from your most recent and going back.
For each one you want to list the company, title, location, and 3-5 bullets that indicate the outcomes you contributed to.
Pay attention to that last statement. Don’t put in your experience that you, “Wrote code.” You’re a developer, literally everyone writes code. Put what changed in the team, operations, or business as a result of you coding.
This is where you stand out from everyone else. When everyone else writes that they wrote code, you deliver results and hiring managers will choose that every time.
This comes dead last because it is the least important to managers. Even if its top of mind for you as a recent graduate of any program, it just doesn’t make much of a difference to hiring managers.
When you list your education, list the school or program, the degree or certificate you got and when you graduated.
Don’t list your grades or GPA ever unless it’s required. People are sensitive about academic performance and doesn’t make you look better.
So with that, take a look at your resume and put your sections into this order. When you’re done, put yourself imagine you get to make the call of bringing someone in. Now look at that your resume and ask yourself, “Can they do the job? Would I want to work with this person?”
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