Brought to you by Resume.io:
Creating a resume can be overwhelming. It is, after all, your first impression to a prospective employer. It can be even more nerve wracking when you are applying for the job of your dreams. Having a resume that showcases why you’re the perfect fit is essential.
Creating the perfect resume doesn’t have to be a chore. Instead, it can actually be pretty simple if you follow the five essential elements every resume should have.
The Importance of the Cover Letter
Before jumping into those five elements, there is one part of the application process that absolutely cannot be overlooked. It’s actually more important than the resume itself, and that is a great cover letter.
Unlike a resume that just showcases skills, a cover letter is the time where you can really highlight why you’re the best fit for this particular job. While most people keep the same resume for all jobs they apply to, every individual application should be submitted with a unique cover letter.
A good cover letter should have three main parts. The first is the greeting. Always greet by name in a professional manner, and then discuss why you’re applying for the job. The second section should highlight not only why you’re a good fit for the job but also discuss similar roles you’ve had that make you the perfect candidate. The final section is the salutation where you thank them for the opportunity to submit your application and ask for the interview.
That’s right, I said ask for the interview. This is the time to show them how much you want the job. A candidate who shows they want the job is one who is more likely to move forward in the application process than the candidates who don’t come across as go-getters.
Essential Elements of the Resume
Now that you understand the importance of the cover letter, it’s time to focus on the resume. The purpose of the resume is to quickly show that you have the skills and education required to do the job you’re applying for.
Don’t have all of the necessary skills or education? Apply anyway and use your cover letter to describe exactly why that shouldn’t disqualify you.
Just because you’ve learned that the cover letter is the more important element, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for a perfect resume. It still needs to be great by making sure it has these five elements.
1. Simplicity and an Easy-to-Follow Format
Being simple and easy to follow is important. No one wants to look at a page jam-packed with words of fluff and try to make sense of what’s happening. Use bullet points to discuss skills to make them easier to read.
2. Relevant Experience
While it’s tempting to list every job you’ve ever had with all of the duties you held, you should be concentrating on the most relevant experience. In fact, adding more than three jobs with complete details can be distracting. Instead, focus on the areas of those jobs that are most like the jobs you’re applying for.
If you’re applying for a sales job and your last two jobs involved sales, those are the highlights you want to hit. Showcase how much you brought in each month and anything you created and contributed to the company.
For the remainder of the jobs you may have held, simply listing them with dates is enough. They should still be on your resume, but in a much smaller capacity.
3. Contact Information
That seems like a joke, right? Of course people would put in their contact information! Sadly, that is not always the case. Take the time to double check that your phone number and email address are listed on the resume.
Having your email address on there is just as important as your phone number. Many companies now only use email to communicate with applicants, especially if there are steps in their application process before a formal interview. Make sure it’s on there and it’s correct.
Highlighting your education is important to show the prospective employer that you completed your degree or certification and you have the skills necessary to do the job. Attended college but didn’t graduate? No problem. List the dates you did attend and the courses you completed that are most relevant to the job.
Didn’t attend any form of higher education? That’s okay too. You should list your highest completed education – high school diploma or GED. Some jobs only require that, but they need to see that you obtained it.
5. List of Skills
Showcasing your skills is a surefire way to get the employers to notice you. For example, having experience with important industry software can push you to the top of the pile if the software is harder to use or takes a great deal of training.
Landing the Interview
If you follow the five essential elements to a great resume and pair that with an outstanding cover letter, you’re likely to move on to the next step in the hiring process, regardless if that is a validation test or straight on to an interview. It’s the easiest gateway to the job of your dreams.