11 Oct Quick Tips for Writing a Rock-Solid Resume
It’s no secret that having a rock-solid resume is critical to landing your next job. Crafting an exceptional resume nowadays has the added challenge of impressing not only hiring managers but also the software robots doing their upfront work.
Yes, you read that correctly. Robots can scan your resume for keywords and phrases and flag you as a viable candidate.
Everyone has heard a tip or two regarding resumes. When combined with proper wording that will make it past screening bots, they might even be pretty good tips. But writing a winning resume isn’t easy. When you throw a wrench in there like a criminal record or a stint locked up, it gets even harder. But it’s not impossible. Nobody ever said a comeback would be a walk in the park.
Some people might be inclined to seek out professional help when writing their resume, but with this list from our Comeback Co-founder and resume writing specialist, Hannah Lawrence, you won’t have to.
These quick resume tips will help you showcase your unique talents and skills and, when used correctly, should result in a click from both the hiring manager and those dang software bots.
1. Be Straight Up. It is extremely important that you are honest in your resume. After doing time, this may present some unique challenges and feel, well, a little uncomfortable. Sure, you may have gaps in your employment history, but you may also have skills you learned, degrees you earned, or jobs you held while incarcerated. Don’t hide these facts by making s**t up. There are some strategies you can use to present this information in a way that allows you to put your best foot forward.
2. Use a Reverse Timeline. Start with your most recent experience, and work your way backward from there. This allows you to bring the focus to the present instead of fixating on your past. Remember, you’re here to make a comeback.
Pro Tip 1: If you held a job or set of tasks while incarcerated, list your employer as the “State of __” or “___ County”.
Pro Tip 2: If your stint in the pen was more recent, consider writing a functional resume. Functional resumes highlight your skills over employment experiences, so you can highlight your strengths and times you stepped up to the plate to display them.
3. Use Keywords and Phrases from the Job Description. If you’re applying for a position with a description that says “Looking for a self-starting problem solver”, guess what phrase you should use in your resume?
Pro Tip: Writing an “About Me” at the top of your resume is a great way to plug in these keywords. Keep your summary short and focused, but don’t be afraid to add a little personality. It helps hiring managers remember that there is a living and breathing human behind the piece of paper.
4. Make it Look Good. The content of your resume is extremely important, but the layout and design of your resume makes the first impression. The three design elements to focus on: Length, Font, and Color.
Length: This isn’t a novel, it’s a resume. Keep it under 2 pages. Anyone with less than 15 years of experience should keep it to a single page.
Font. The last thing employers want to see is a cRaZy FoNt oN yOuR rEsUmE. Keep it simple – Arial, Helvetica, and Times New Roman are great fonts to use.
Color. The use of color is a great way to make your resume stand out to an employer. If you’re applying for a job in the business or medical industries, keep your use of color to a minimum, but don’t be afraid to add a little here and there. If you’re applying for a position in the creative world (design, photography, marketing), you have a little bit more freedom to create something that highlights your artistic abilities.
5. Keep it Fresh. Update your resume frequently, and tailor each resume to each job you apply to. I know it seems annoying and time consuming, but highlighting different skills and experiences can help show you’re a perfect match for a position. Plus, the extra time spent is often paid back in the form of interviews. More interviews = more chances to land a job = more $$$ in your pocket.
Follow these five rules and you’ll be on your way to writing a knock-out resume. For a detailed 4-part video course on writing and designing a resume and other great courses to jumpstart your life after incarceration, join our community of comebackers!