Heavy things sink; lighter things rise to the top. You’ll want to keep this visual in mind when your resume is sitting in a stack of 200 applicants vying for the same dream job. By crafting a lean, power-hitting resume that showcases your work experience in an eye-catching way, you’re more likely to stand out to a human resources manager or prospective employer. Let’s cover how to list your work experience on a resume, along with some resume tips that will get more interviews.
Tip #1: Choose a Resume Template
Just as with fashion and interior design, there tend to be trends in the job application world. Resume trends typically repackage career content in unique formats that highlight your skills, work history and accomplishments for today’s job market. There are multiple free resume templates available online. Find one that will stand out to an employer without being too flashy or unprofessional. Then, fill in your personal career highlights utilizing the following tips. If you choose to create your own resume format, be sure to stay consistent with the styling throughout to make your information pop. Bullet points are always a plus.
Tip #2: Showcase Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand is designed to set you apart within your industry by identifying what niche you fill. Your brand tells a prospective employer what values you hold, what professional style you use, and what is distinctive about what you bring to the table to meet their needs. Your resume should be consistent with that brand by using your voice throughout, aligning your unique experience and ac
complishments with the job being sought, using niched terminology that will resonate with the company, and highlighting your brand qualities.
Tip #3: Customize Each Resume You Send
It will be very tempting to craft one resume and use it for every job you apply for. The resume tip that will get more interviews, however, is to update your resume each time so that it fits the position you’re seeking. Yes, you will write a personalized cover letter that addresses the specifics of the role, but your resume will more likely rise to the top if it is customized for that company and that job. Use terminology specific to the industry or company, for example, and eliminate descriptions of duties that won’t be performed in the future role. Instead, translate the task into a skill the employer will value. Change, “Sold and serviced cell phones” to “Built loyal clientele by assessing customer needs, professionally resolving issues, and providing 5-star customer service.” But – be sure that it’s true! Don’t embellish to get the job and then lose it because you don’t actually have the skill you touted.
Tip #4: Use Clear Section Headings that Stand Out
You are no doubt familiar with the traditional section headings on a resume: Work Experience; Education; References. So is the person reviewing your resume. If you want yours to catch their eye, you can use section formatting and wording that is distinctive from your co-applicants.
For example, a current resume trend is including a profile section at the top of your resume. This is a great place to introduce your personal brand that distinguishes you as unique without being too daring. The profile is usually a few sentences that highlight your qualifications, skills, and accomplishments relevant to the specific job opening. It can also summarize your goals and ambitions, if appropriate. Because you will likely include a section for skills and accomplishments later in the resume, giving a broad overview in the profile section is best.
Using precise descriptions for sections can also draw attention to your resume. For example, substituting “Fortune 500 Executive Experience” or “Top 10 Sales History” for “Work History” is sure to earn a second glance. Likewise, “Guerilla Marketing Skills” is more enticing than “Skills,” and “Revenue Generating Accomplishments” more than “Accomplishments.” Formatting your resume so that these sections pop visually can also help you get noticed.
Tip #5: Don’t Put Your Experience in a Box
Maybe you’ve just graduated from college and you don’t have a work history. Or maybe you’re applying for a job in a new industry. Don’t forget that not all work experience draws a paycheck. You can include volunteer, intern, work study, and pro bono jobs on your resume, especially if the skills you used or developed are related to the job you’re seeking. If you had a title for the position that you can include, all the better.
Tip #6: Avoid Work History Generalities
There are three primary ways you can paint a picture of your career experience and accomplishments so that a prospective employer knows the value you’ll bring to their company. The first is to use powerful verbs to describe specific tasks you performed. Instead of words like “helped” and “responsible for,” use “launched,” “designed,” or “boosted.”
The second way to showcase your abilities is to quantify results you achieved or tangibles you produced. Instead of “Assisted with new product sales,” get specific: “Contributed to a 20 percent increase in new product sales revenue by marketing directly to inactive customers.” Rather than “Improved ER patient response times,” make it measurable. “Designed and implemented new patient intake procedures that reduced patient wait times by an average of 15 minutes.” Another example might be, “Designed and presented most-attended workshop at national AAA conference, with 700 participants.”
Not sure what to include here? Ask yourself and others how you made the organization or team better when you were there. What were you praised for on your annual review? Where did you show initiative or go above and beyond? Keep in mind that collective accomplishments you contributed to as part of a team are worth noting, as well, because they show that you are able to help meet a shared company goal.
A third way to avoid generalities is to let others back up what you are saying. It’s easy to tell a prospective employer that you’re good at something; it’s more believable if your former manager commended you for it. Including short testimonials or accolades about your skills and qualifications can speak volumes. Be careful not to overdo it, however, or it could look self-serving.
Tip #7: Describe a Professional Challenge you Overcame
Whether you were presented with a problem to fix or identified one yourself, demonstrating how you effectively deal with challenges within company guidelines will demonstrate to a future employer that you are both observant and resourceful. For example, “observed excess unmoved inventory leading to decreased quarterly profits; researched and helped implement inventory management system to resolve the problem.”
Tip #8: Highlight Your Completed and Current Education
Exhibiting that you are a life-long learner will be a plus for any future employer. In your education section, you’ll want to include degrees, certifications and specialized training you have received. But that’s not all. If you are currently enrolled in a bachelor or master’s degree program, including that will demonstrate you’re committed to career advancement and mastery of the knowledge you need to excel in your industry. If you’re not enrolled, now would be a good time.
In fact, Ottawa University has a wide variety of accelerated, online degree programs designed to prepare you for your next career move. One of the many benefits of earning an online degree is that you can pursue career development while you continue to work!
Tip #9: Close Strong
Most resumes end with a section about references that are available upon request. You can make a statement at the bottom of your resume by also including your own personal mission statement or quote from a client in the footer. Make their last impression of your resume one they won’t forget.
Once you’ve completed your initial resume, be sure to review it for consistent brand voice, grammatical errors, style, and accuracy of information. Use this as your personal resume template for customizing each time you apply for a job. Then, take points from your resume to craft an engaging cover letter, which is another great place to assert your personal brand.
Now that you know how to list your work experience on a resume, here’s to having yours rise to the top of the pile!
Ottawa University is the best, fastest, and most affordable way to earn an online degree. In fact, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Ottawa University and its online programs near the top of the best colleges in the institution’s adult markets of Kansas City, Phoenix, and Milwaukee. If you would like to find out more about how Ottawa University can help you advance your career, contact OU today!