25 Best Resume Secrets Employers Will Never Tell You

Crafting the perfect resume is perhaps the number one thing you need to do when looking for a new job. Most of the time, your resume is the way you’re introduced to the employer. You need it to stand out and make you look great. If your resume doesn’t present you as the impressive professional you really are, there is little chance you’ll get the job.

Resume writing is an art, but an art that can be learned. Good resumes all do the same thing, despite the fact that they may look very different from one another. Crafting a good resume is done by pulling together all the right elements into one cohesive and impressive document. Most employers are essentially looking for the same kinds of things on a resume. All you need to know is what they would like to see (and what they wish you’d avoid doing).

1. A few seconds and it’s over

man in a suit

You only have a few seconds to grab the hiring manager’s attention with your resume. | iStock.com

As nice as it would be to think that hiring managers have plenty of time to look over resumes — and to really go through each one thoroughly — that just isn’t the case. Most hiring managers have tons of things to do, and that means they only have a limited amount of time for resume reading.

According to Monster, recruiters spend about six seconds scanning your resume before making a decision. This means if you don’t grab their attention within the first few seconds of them looking at your resume, it will likely end up in the trash. Focus on a few attention grabbing facts or achievements that will catch their eye and make them want to read further.

2. Most of the resume won’t get read

Businessman looking at his laptop

Make your resume easily digestible for the hiring manager. | iStock.com

The reality is that most resumes won’t be read all the way through. Again, it mostly comes down to time, and the fact that half of the resumes received by hiring managers will be from people grossly unqualified for the job they’ve applied for. Because of this, it’s paramount that you make your resume easy to read. According to The Muse, if a resume is difficult to skim or scan, it may not be read at all. A person should be able to get the gist of what you’re all about just by looking at the most notable parts of your resume.

3. Good job titles do matter

business man

Make sure your job title is easily recognizable. | iStock.com

The job titles you’ve held in the past can make a difference. Hopefully, you have some good ones you can put on your resume. Too often, people write something like “staff member” when they should write “marketing staff member” or “staff writer.” By being specific, you’ll give the hiring manager a better idea of what you actually did while on the job. You don’t want to get too creative, though. According to Dice Insights, you should try to stick to job titles that are well-known or easily recognizable.

4. Well-known brands matter

Google logo outside the building

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that well-known brands look good on a resume. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

People respond to well-known brands. These can be brands that are household names, or a company that’s doing big things in your industry. If you’ve had a job with a brand that you know your potential employer will identify with, make sure they know about it right away on your resume. According to IT World, some of that brand’s influence will rub off on you.

5. There is no perfect resume format

resume crumpled in cyan background

You don’t have to stick with a conventional resume format. | iStock.com/ragsac

There are plenty of resume formats out there, including reverse-chronological, functional, non-traditional, combination, and a few others. Something employers won’t tell you is that if they didn’t specify what type of resume to send in the job posting, it really doesn’t matter too much. You should choose the one that best represents you, and that shows off your good qualities to the hiring manager.

6. No passion project means you’re boring

young man working on laptop while sitting at his working place

Find a passion project that will showcase your interests outside of work. | iStock.com/g-stockstudio

Employers want to hire passionate people. They want to hire people who are driven and interested in their work and things outside of work. If you don’t have some kind of passion project that you do, it’s usually smart to find one. This could be anything from volunteering at a non-profit to starting a cooking blog. Whatever you want to do, do it and do it well. Even if it doesn’t pertain to the job you’re applying for, it shows that you care about things and have it together.

7. Lose the objective statement

businessman at his desk looking fearfully looking at a laptop

The objective statement on resumes is outdated. | iStock.com/MishaBeliy

Objective statements are a bit of a joke, and most hiring managers skip over them anyway. Our advice? Don’t waste your time writing one. According to SnagAJob, objective statements either make a hiring manager mad or bore them to death. The only time you should write an objective statement is when you can do so in a creative and eye-catching way that you think the hiring manager would love. Otherwise, leave it off your resume altogether.

8. References upon request

employment references

Save your job references for the interview process. | iStock.com

One mistake many rookie job hunters make is placing references right on their resume. While you need to have plenty of references, don’t worry about providing those to the hiring manager until he or she asks for them. If you have them on there from the very start, it just adds unneeded clutter, and it could contribute to your resume being overlooked.

9. Quantify a skill or achievement 

senior businessman sitting on a chair

Make sure you’re providing detail when it comes to your skills. | iStock.com

Putting generic skills or achievements on your resume may do more harm than good. By not showing the hiring manager exactly how the skills and achievements matter, you run the risk of annoying them. That means your resume will likely end up at the bottom of the pile — or worse, the trash can. Get specific. Say how much money your special project helped save the company, and discuss the exact percentages that you saw revenue rise due to your skills. You always want to show and not tell a potential employer why you’re great.

10. Your degree matters, just not too much

college grauation

College degrees matter, but only up to a certain point. | Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Nowadays, it seems that everyone has a degree. This makes it much harder to differentiate yourself based on your education alone. Yes, your degree matters. However, if it’s not from a seriously prestigious school or program, its impact could be marginal. Instead of focusing on your degree, focus on extracurricular activities and other achievements you did while at school. That is what will help you stand out from the competition.

11. Bend the truth if you have to

Young man with glasses working on his notebook

It’s OK to exaggerate your involvement in certain projects if you possess the skills required to do the job. | iStock.com/NakoPhotography

It’s important to note that you should never lie on a resume. That being said, bending the truth a little isn’t the end of the world. You should feel free to list projects you only worked on a little bit, and talk up experiences and achievements you may not have really been an integral part of but that you were still involved in.

12. Bullet points work

person looking at computer

Make sure you’re using bullet points to break up your content. | Pixabay

You need to make your resume scannable. Most of the time that means utilizing bullet points. Don’t write a whole paragraph after the bullet point either. That’ll just defeat the purpose. The bullet point is designed to distill content down to the most important pieces, and writing a whole paragraph after the bullet point means you might as well have omitted it in the first place.

13. Keywords matter

Insurance agent giving advise her new client

Make sure you’re using the keywords that are in the job advertisement. | iStock.com/Szepy

Using certain buzzwords or keywords in your resume may seem silly, but the fact of the matter is that they can make a pretty big difference. According to Job-Hunt, it’s best to front-load keywords in your resume. This means putting them at or near the top of the resume. Another method is to try and scatter them throughout. If you choose to do the latter, make sure you still have quite a few near the top because most hiring managers won’t read the whole document.

14. Being concise is key

a woman looking through a stack of papers

Don’t write an essay, save the explanations for the job interview. | iStock.com

A wordy resume will often end up being tossed by a hiring manager. You want to be concise and to the point with each item. While it can be easy to write a lot about yourself, it’s more important to stick to points that set you apart. Start by cutting out any adjectives and adverbs and removing anything with a passive voice. From there, go over your resume and eliminate anything that’s unnecessary or redundant.

15. State your accomplishments

Euphoric and surprised woman

Go ahead, brag a little. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

Don’t be shy about the things you’ve done at previous positions. If you’ve made any accomplishments, you need to make sure the hiring manager knows about them. Just be careful, as you don’t want to list inconsequential things. However, if you can quantify achievements with an award or a statistic, then it’s probably worthwhile.

16. Typographical errors matter

young female worried by what she sees on cell phone

Make sure you’re proofreading your resume. | iStock.com/nandyphotos

The number one thing you must do on your resume is make sure that it is free and clear of any typographical errors. According to Career Addict, 80% of hiring managers said that more than a couple of typos eliminate a candidate. Don’t let a silly little punctuation mistake or a spelling error keep you from getting the job that you really want.

17. Craft your resume specifically to the company

Business Team Busy Working Talking

Don’t send the same resume to every company you’re applying for. | iStock.com/Rawpixel

You should try to get to know a company before you apply for a job there. Before writing your resume, ask yourself what’s important to that company, what it does, and how it does it. You need to cater to the company’s goals. After you’ve identified these things, you should make it clear that you have similar ideals. For instance, if the company you want a job with is focused on environmental friendliness, try to find a way to connect your recent experience with that goal.

18. Craft your resume specifically to the position

Two business colleagues shaking hands across the table

Make sure your resume relates to the position you’re applying for. | iStock.com/UberImages

In addition to crafting a resume that fits the company, you also need to think about the specific position. Get as much information about the job as you can and use that information to help build your resume. Tap into your professional network and talk with other people you know about the position. The more information you have, the better chance you’ll have of wowing the hiring manager.

19. Don’t put everything on there

business man working in office

Remember, you still have an interview to look forward to, and there’s also the cover letter. | iStock.com/anyaberkut

Chances are, you’ve had a few jobs that don’t pertain to the position you’re applying for. If that’s the case, leave them off your resume. Instead of listing every single thing you’ve done, focus on the most relevant, impressive, and recent jobs you’ve had. According to CBS News, the only time you need to include every job you’ve had is when you’re applying for certain types of government jobs. Otherwise, most employers don’t care.

20. Show how you stack up against the competition

judges giving a score

Did you win any awards? Be sure to include them on your resume. | Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It may seem counterproductive to bring up the competition, but anywhere you’ve triumphed where others have failed is worth noting on your resume. Awards are a good way to demonstrate this. If you were awarded anything in your previous position, state it, and also note how many other people could have won this award.

21. Connect yourself with big brands and people

Businessman thinking

Use your network to your benefit. | iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

Have you worked with key influencers or brands in your industry? Do you have a connection to an important professional in your field? Find a way to leverage this on your resume. List important projects and note the influential people on those projects. If they’re big enough names, it can really have an impression on your chances of getting the job.

22. Be specific with everything

handsome African-American young business man

Make sure your resume reflects who you are. | iStock.com/warrengoldswain

We’ve already touched on this, but it’s worth noting explicitly. You have to be specific with each and every item on your resume. Don’t settle for generic descriptions that could be for anyone. You need to make your resume specifically about you or you’ll never stand out enough to be notable.

23. Talk up your soft skills

A group of people discussing a topic

Your soft skills matter, make them count. | iStock

Soft skills are an important part of your resume. However, according to The Muse, you need to do more than just list your soft skills. Reference them in the stories you tell about yourself. For instance, if you implemented a special program at work, use that to highlight your communication skills. If you completed a huge project nobody else could finish, use it to show off how hardworking you are.

24. Focus on the future

future and past concept

Don’t lose sight of the future when you’re crafting your resume. | iStock.com/Gunnar Pippel

When writing a resume, it’s easy to think only of the past, but some time needs to be spent looking forward. According to Susan Ireland, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume, you should use your experience, skills, interests, and personality to showcase how you’ll do in the job you’re applying for. If you do this right, the hiring manager should be able to see you in the position.

25. Show them you can lead

Richard Branson

Make sure to include leadership skills on your resume. | Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Even if the job you’re applying for isn’t a leadership role, companies like to know that they have people on staff that can step up and lead. According to FlexJobs, you can even use volunteer work, professional organizations, or other activities you’re involved in to showcase leadership.

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