Killer Resume Tips

So much has been written about how to write a resume. Let me share a few key tips I have found to be true in 20 years of corporate recruiting:

Have an Objective

If you don’t know what you want, it’s hard for the reader to evaluate or it appears that you might take any job. If you are focused, it is easy to assess whether your skills, education and experience support your goal.  (

Typical Objective: Challenging job where I can use and enhance my skills in a business setting.

Better Objective: Compensation/Benefits Analyst position using my Human Resources experience and coursework to improve a large organization’s bottom line.

Use keywords

Corporate recruiters can’t even read the hundreds of resumes that come into our databases. We must use keywords to narrow down the candidate pool to a reasonable number. If you are missing related technical/functional words (or misspell them!) a real person may never dig your resume out of the “black hole” known as an Applicant Tracking System.

I once asked a candidate, while looking at his resume, “What are your greatest strengths?” He responded that he was 1) a good public speaker, 2) very detail-oriented, and 3) very strong with MS Excel macros.

I immediately commented that none of those words/phrases were listed on his resume. How do you expect to get a call, based on your resume, if your very best skills/qualities, aren’t even included?

Use numbers to show results

Most resumes I see provide a laundry list of “tasks”. What catches my attention is results. For example, if a candidate used to sell mobile phones:

Typical description:                                                               Accomplishments

Sold phone to business users                               Sold $5,000 of product every three months

Provided customer service                                                  Averaged sales of 110% of quota

Followed up on client prospects                                        Achieved 95% rating in client satisfaction surveys

The items in the left column give me no indication of the quality of the candidate’s performance. The items in the right hand column make me want to quickly interview the candidate!

List Awards/Certifications

Include all certifications and awards/recognitions that you have received that are still relevant. If you would like to talk about them in a potential interview, and can still perform the skills you used to achieve the awards, include them on your resume.

For example, if you received an award 10 years ago for being an outstanding trainer, and you can still perform that function today, include it on your resume- and be prepared to talk about it in the interview!

Highlights, not entire History

If you have no experience, include your best coursework and community/volunteer activities. If you have extensive experience, omit the oldest or least relevant positions.

A good rule of thumb would be to include your last 10-15 years experience, or your last 3-4 positions.

Now resume tips can vary slightly from recruiter to recruiter, to get another perspective, here’s a part 1 and part 2 of past posts that offer good advice too! By following these key tips, you can stand out from the crowd when being considered for a position. Help the recruiter or hiring manager find your resume, then give them a reason to call you for an interview!

7 Responses to Killer Resume Tips

  1. Your blog about resume writing is one of the first I’ve seen that gives true valuable examples – Thank You!!
    I had two questions for you:
    1) Have you seen any video resumes? And what are your thoughts about video resumes?
    2) What if you don’t have a college degree but have great experience, knowledge and skills? Is there any chance of still being employable these days at Intel?

    Intel seems to be really focused on Master’s Degrees, a Bachelor’s Degree at the very minimum. However, in my years of experience in Corporate America (and I use to work at Intel), I noticed decision makers choosing a degree over experience and talent which wasn’t always the wisest choice!

    • Sejal says:

      Hi Mati, sorry for the delay in response! Here’s what Jeff had to say:
      1) Video resumes are not common yet. If you communicate well, it can help you. The risk is someone may dislike one element of the video clip and not consider you further.
      2) Intel does hire some folks without a Bachelor’s degree. All jobs are listed on http://www.intel.com/jobs
      Hope that helps!

  2. Build a unique resume is a part of interview. you share Some Resume Facts that is true , and useful to get a good job. Thanks for sharing it. I will share it with my friends.

  3. Raj Subhash Prajapati says:

    I appreciate your answer, but do you think it is possible to get job to a fresher by mentioning some of his activities, where experience is of utmost important than anything else whether it’s a degree or talent.

    • Sejal says:

      Hi Raj, Jeff says, “To get a positive response to a resume, the top half of the first page is critical. Experience is great if you have it. Put your best strengths (work, internships, class projects, activities, relevant coursework) up front, or the hiring person may not read any further.”

  4. Laxmi Naraya Nanda says:

    Great tips regarding resume writings. Give some more tips regarding the same..
    Is fixing photos mandatory in a resume?

    • Sejal says:

      Hi Laxmi, Jeff says, “In the U.S. I suggest avoiding personal information (photos, date of birth, marital status, etc.) since it is not relevant to your qualifications and not customary (like on a full C.V.) Look at your resume side by side with the job posting description and evaluate how closely they match up. Add or remove items on your resume to tailor it to each position you apply for.”