Tips for the Perfect Resume

By Kaylor Jones

A stack of resumes with a magnifying glass on top

Companies can get hundreds of applications for a single job posting; in order to secure an interview for the job of your dreams, you not only need a strong academic background, but a professional resume that stands out from the crowd while leveraging your unique skills and experiences.

The Basics

First and foremost, never forget to proofread! Submitting an error-filled resume is one of the number one ways to get immediately rejected. Be thorough and try to get a friend or family member to read it for you too. Secondly, include your contact information. It sounds like a no-brainer, but even the best resume in the world is useless without a way for the employer to contact you. They most likely won’t go searching for your information, no matter how good your resume is.

Keep your social media cleaned up. Companies often search for potential employees online, so all public social media accounts should be screened for appropriateness. One important account to have is a LinkedIn. Through LinkedIn, employers and other professionals can access your profile, which functions as an extended resume. Some may even use it to conduct the hiring process.

Formatting Your Resume

Perfecting the format of your resume is a vital step of the process. If a resume is not easy to read, it can get tossed to the bottom of the pile. Chose and left-align a standard font, using bold and italics to designate headings and sub-headings. Make sure there is a good balance of text to white space so it does not appear too congested. Bullet points are your best friend! If you do not want to go to the trouble of formatting yourself, there are hundreds of free resume templates online.

Never leave the best for last! The most important information should always be in the top half or one-third of the page. It is often said you should keep your resume at one page, but if you are cutting out valuable information to do so, it may not be worth it. A second opinion can help you judge what to keep and what to cut. Take advantage of your resources: GCU’s Career IMPACT Center is open to everyone to set up a one-on-one resume review with a career advisor and get extremely valuable personalized feedback!

Choosing the Content

If you chose to include it, one of the first things on your resume should be the objective: a one or two sentence introduction about your career goals, qualifications, how you fit your employer’s needs and more. This is an area to emphasize the most important elements of your resume and get the employer’s attention. Some people may feel that objectives are out of date; use your own judgment and only include an objective statement if you feel it improves your resume as a whole. Remember, the employer most likely cares about his or her objective more than they do about yours, so use it as an opportunity to cater to their focus.

Next, decide how you want to organize the material in your resume. If you want to go the more traditional route, put your content in reverse-chronological order, with the newest information first. When done correctly, this will help display your career progression and evolution as an employee.

If, however, you are a recent graduate, changing careers, or otherwise have little experience in the field you are applying for, you may want to choose a skills-based, or functional resume. This format will display the transferable skills and talents you have developed from your work and academic history. Lead with your skills and back them up with evidence in the form of bulleted experiences and accomplishments. Follow your skills with a brief listing of your work history, making sure to include internships and past volunteering.

Whenever you list a past job, briefly describe your responsibilities and how they allowed you to develop new skills. These skills should be relevant to the position you are applying for. Again, compose your experience section so that it shows off your career progression. Nobody wants to hire someone who has not shown improvement over the course of multiple jobs.

Following the experience section should be your education. This should be ordered reverse-chronologically and include the type of your degree (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.), major and university. This is also a section in which you can list honors and awards. Only include your GPA if it is a 3.0 or higher.

Quick Tips for the Perfect Resume

Use keywords. Many employers these days use an Applicant Tracking System to automatically filter through resumes. These systems often search for specific words that may be listed in the job description. If the job posting says they want someone used to working with a team or overcoming workplace obstacles, write it on your resume (and back it up with experience!).

Compile a master resume. Each resume you submit should be specifically tailored to match what that job opening requires. With a master resume of everything you could possibly want to include—all past jobs, skills, honors, awards and more—you can pick and choose which elements are relevant for the job and create a new resume for each application.

Quantify. Use numbers whenever possible to show specific proof of your accomplishments. Quantifiable achievements can demonstrate participation, motivation, and ambition.

Write a cover letter. This can set you apart from the competition and give you a chance to expand upon how your experience best fits the position. Address it directly to the hiring manager if you can.

Your resume is not just about selling yourself, it is about convincing the company that you are the best fit for them: they want to know how your experience has taught you what you need to know to be the best possible employee for them. Give yourself the best chance possible at the job of your dreams by combining networking and interview skills with a winning resume!

Having a good resume is a vital part of getting your dream job. Contact the Career IMPACT Center to schedule an appointment with a career advisor. To learn even more, press the Request More Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.