Top Resume Tips from Hiring Managers for 2020

Writing your resume can take time. And there’s more potential for error than there is a success. But with these resume tips, you can spend less time thinking about what to write and spend more time making sure your resume is full of valuable insights for your hiring manager and recruiter to gain from.

Top Resume Tips for Making the Perfect Resume

Here are some tips to make your resume stand out as a job seeker and get your employer to pay attention to your professional resume, which increases your chances of being invited to interview.

Write a Resume Summary

Instead of writing reasons why your hiring manager should pay attention to your resume, use your resume summary to write 4-5 bullet points recapping your best career accomplishments. This should be in the order of your best accomplishment. Use accomplishments that are relative to the position you’re applying for so that your potential employer can feel secure knowing you have the experience required to do the job. This style of a statement is different from a summary statement, which simply explains and supports that you have each skill required to do the job. This is less effective than writing accomplishments that speak to your experience. Consider this a career highlights section, which is a better description of the end result than an objective statement or resume objective.

Write a Chronological Resume

Including a large number of skills and trying to have a unique resume isn’t going to work. When writing a chronological resume, be sure to include job titles that are relative to the one you’re applying for. This should be in the order of your most recent job to your oldest job. Most jobs require this resume format and not a functional resume, curriculum vitae, or combination resume format.

Focus on Your Experience Section

Each job should include your job title, when you were employed at the position, and what you were able to accomplish. Include at least 3-5 bullet points of accomplishments you were able to achieve while employed. Be sure these accomplishments are about your employer and not yourself (IE: Things you were able to accomplish for yourself while employed at the company).

Pick a Basic Resume Layout

Don’t try to get fancy. A resume should be functional in the sense that it provides the hiring manager the opportunity to read your resume very quickly and understand who you are in a professional light. It should allow them to capture your work history in short reading time and focus on your accomplishments. It’s one of the most common resume mistakes to make, thinking that your resume layout needs to be unique. Use a resume template in order to help you pick a simple but professional resume format that your hiring manager will appreciate.

Think About the Applicant Tracking System

An Applicant Tracking System will pick up on nouns, verbs, and buzzwords. When thinking about words to describe your work, be sure to make them actionable. For example, “adapted” versus “decided” in terms of your language. Try not to repeat words over and over, especially buzzwords like “accomplished” and “capable” that lack depth. Think about the variations of the descriptor that you can use. Words like “specialized” and “experienced” are going to be preferred by Applicant Tracking Systems that scan resumes for the use of these terms.

Coordinate Your Cover Letter

If your cover letter contains references to specific jobs or accomplishments, be sure they are included in your resume work history and experience section. This will help the reader to reference your statements in the cover letter to your work history. Try to personalize the statements and relevant experience in your cover letter and your work experience to both the employer and job title.

Speak to Your Experience Level

When writing your cover letter and resume, be sure to include skills and relevant accomplishments that you know are going to be critical to the job function. This can show your new employer that you have a firm understanding of what’s required to perform and accomplish their company’s objectives.

Drop the Skills Section

Listing skills on your resume is great but it can distract from your accomplishments. Be sure to spend time writing down important and valuable work that you’ve been able to achieve from your prior employment opportunities. And veto your skills section on the resume in lieu of writing more clear accomplishments.

Include Certification and Volunteer Experience

Having certifications and volunteer work on your resume is far more important than writing a list of skills. This can show your humility and your ability to educate yourself beyond the work. Include this toward the bottom of your resume beneath your education section, as it places a nice ending to a winning resume for your prospective employer.

Practice Resume Writing

Don’t just start your resume writing process without trying to think it through, first. Analyze the company you’re applying to. Look at their website, their about page, company objectives, and more. Then try to go through the resume writing process once, then another time. The second time you do so, you’ll write better. Don’t simply write and send your resume. Spend time doing it correctly. This process can drastically remove grammatical errors, as well. By doing this process three times it will certainly help you in your job search.

Answer Questions You Might Hear in the Job Interview

Anticipate questions you might hear in a job interview and answer them with your resume or cover letter. Questions like, “What is your dream job?” can be answered in your letter. And this can be helpful to have the reader see that you’re anticipating what the hiring manager might need to make a decision, in advance. This unique piece of resume advice is certainly going to help in your job search. Combining this with the experience that you feel the manager will need to see in order to make an educated decision can also create an effective resume that stands out.

Use a Resume Builder

If this is your first time writing a resume, use a resume builder or resume sample to start yours. This can help to save you valuable time. But can also help to show you a few options for what a great resume looks like. Be sure to choose a simple resume format that can be printed. Nothing with color or fancy layouts. Most resume builders contain these styles of formats. Avoid them. A good resume is one that is simple to read and can be printed (9pt to 10pt font size is preferred, as well). When using a sample resume for your specific job title, be sure to customize everything you see on the page in order to make it yours.

Use Career Services

If you’re a student or recent graduate, use your university or college-level career services. They can help you to start thinking through what your personal resume might look like when you lack experience. They can expedite the process of writing your own and can ensure you are thinking through what’s required to put yourself in the running for the position.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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