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How to create an award-winning resume

A potential employer’s first impression of you is your resume. Make sure yours has them wanting to hire you before they even meet you.

Woman looking over resume

Your resume is putting your and all of your skills and attributes on paper. In short, it’s a compressed biography listing your awards, achievements and experience. It’s what makes you attractive to potential employers. Since thousands of prospects could be applying for the same job you’ve got your eye on, make sure your resume stands out from the rest. Creating a stellar, award-winning resume is the first step to landing the job of your dreams.

Step 1: A clearly defined career objective

The objective statement is the first thing employers will see on your resume. You want it to be eye-catching, professional and clever. If an objective statement is good, the reader will naturally continue reading the rest of the resume. Think of your objective as a thesis statement — it sums up the resume and pulls it together.

Tip: If you’re applying for several positions, create an original, high-impact objective statement to fit each potential job.

Did you know that more than half of all employers use an online tracking system to find relevant candidates by detecting unique keywords?

Step 2: Be specific

Stay away from vague words and phrases such as “successful,” “contributed to,” or “developed.” These words get lost in the pile of similar resumes. Instead, use specific, unique keywords that will get you noticed. Search the internet for powerful verbs or use a thesaurus for more distinctive words that have the same meaning. The more specific and detailed you are, the more you’re going to stand out.

Step 3: Fill in the gaps

For any gaps in employment, briefly explain the reason. Do not make this a paragraph — a simple one- or two-sentence statement will work just fine. If you make it to an interview, the recruiter will most definitely ask why you were out of work temporarily. Make it easier on them by having this information on your resume.

Tip: If you do have gaps in employment, consider taking a class to freshen up your skills. This shows you take initiative, a quality all employers want.

Step 4: Update regularly

Keep your resume current by updating it on a regular basis. Were you recently promoted? Did you get recognized for an achievement? Have you received an award recently? Put all this on your resume. Achievements, awards and even added responsibilities can make you a front-runner in the candidate pool.

Additional tips for an award-winning resume

  • Keep it to one page. If you have a lot of experience or awards, consider making a portfolio to go along with your resume.
  • Bold important information — job titles, degrees, name and contact information.
  • Use bullet points. Never write in paragraph form; always summarize and use bullet points.
  • Make it professional. Don’t use fancy fonts, a colored background or any images. Keep it as professional and tidy as possible.

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