Resume Writing 101 – Know These Basics

A recruiter typically looks at your resume for around 5–7 seconds. How can you stand out against your competition for the job? We’ll tell you the most important resume writing 101 tips and tactics so you know how to write an impressive resume and get hired. With the current economic climate and layoffs in tech, we’d like to offer support to everyone who is currently looking for a job and has to rely on their resume to help them land an interview.

How can you make sure that your profile stands out compared to all the other applicants? We’re here for you with proven strategies.

GrowthLead - Resume writing 101

Table of Contents

Essentials to Know

When recruiters and hiring managers look at resumes, they want to understand how you made a difference, how you contributed to your company and what potential value you provide to them. It’s critical to make sure to create context and show how your profile is relevant to the role that you are applying for.

Always refer back to the job description of the role you’re applying for. Check the required skills and experiences and try to highlight how your profile is a great match, instead of just listing out your experiences.

Resume Writing 101 – Format & Layout

  • One-page resumes are the way to go when you have under 10 years of professional experience! Being concise and prioritizing are important skills that you as an applicant can show off this way. Also, recruiters probably won’t read your entire resume, so make sure to help them understand the most valuable things easily
  • In reverse chronological order, the most recent items at the top
  • 3–5 bullets per role, max. 2–3 lines per bullet
  • Keep enough white space to not overwhelm recruiters
  • When it comes to the font, it’s not critical as long as it’s clean and easily readable
  • Be consistent and keep it simple. Do not use many different fonts, colours, and styles such as bold or italic
  • From our experience, we don’t recommend including a photo. Recruiters can Google you and find your headshot on LinkedIn anyway
  • If you are a designer, use a visually attractive layout. Canva has some nice templates.
  • For everyone else, we recommend using a more classic template. Here is a good one
  • It doesn’t matter which tool you use to write your resume. Just make sure to send it as a PDF

The Structure

A typical structure of a resume for someone with work experience looks like this:

  1. Contact Details
  2. Professional Experience
  3. Projects / Entrepreneurship
  4. Education
  5. Skills (technologies, tools, languages)

As a fresh grad, you might want to consider something like this:

  1. Contact Details
  2. Education
  3. Internships
  4. Projects / Entrepreneurship
  5. Extra-curricular & Awards
  6. Courses
  7. Skills (technologies, tools, languages)

If you lack professional experience, try to make up for it by showing your engagement and ambition with side projects, extra-curricular activities or taking online courses in relevant fields.

You could also add a short summary about yourself at the beginning. This is a personal preference. A one-pager doesn’t have much space though, so I would rather leave it out and include things that provably highlight your strengths.

Professional Experience Section

Always show accomplishments, not responsibilities!

Imagine you are a recruiter and read that you have been responsible for doing X. That sounds like you have been assigned to do that task and that’s not very appealing, is it? Instead, show how you achieved something and made a difference. What have you done exactly and how is it relevant to the role you are applying for?

You need to prove it. This is done best by showing some numbers, e.g. how much revenue you generated for the business? How much did you save your company? How many users did you acquire? How much time did you save someone? How much did you improve customer satisfaction? Those are all sample questions to show how you made a difference in your previous role

A good structure to use for your bullets is the following:

Did X by doing Y which led to Z.

An example:

Introduced a new key feature by designing and managing the development of feature X, which led to an extra $1.5 million in revenue.

Follow These Essential Tactics

  • Use action verbs when describing an accomplishment. Good examples: Led, developed, prioritized, achieved, drove, created, implemented
  • Create context. Check the required skills and technologies in the job description and see how your profile matches those. Use related keywords in your bullet points. How is the stuff you have on your CV relevant to the role? Try to put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes
  • Optimize for ATS systems. Large companies often use Applicant Tracking Systems to pre-filter resumes. Those systems automatically scan your CV for keywords, phrases, and numbers. If you want to make it past them, you need the aforementioned context in your profile
  • Show your accomplishments. If you have additional accomplishments to show for, go for it! Certifications, extra-curricular, hackathons and more. Make sure to provide links as proof
  • Leave out the soft skills section. If you feel the urge to mention them you should also back up that claim. We recommend putting them in the cover letter rather than the resume

Education Section

Unless you are a fresh grad, only mention your school, major, location and dates, that’s it. You can also mention grades if they were exceptional. But with more work experience those become more irrelevant.

If you are a student or fresh grad, also mention relevant coursework and certainly your grades.

Who Are We to Judge What Makes a Great Resume?

We have helped many people get interviews and land jobs at top companies such as Uber, Meta, Amazon, McKinsey, Spotify, Stripe, Revolut, and more. On top of that, we have gained exposure and experience hiring talent within our own companies over the years.

One Last Thing

Proofread your resume for grammar and spelling errors. It’s basic resume writing 101. There is no excuse for making easy mistakes in the one document that ought to put you in the next round. Use tools like Grammarly to check your writing before sending it out.

If you’d like a professional opinion from a professional, we have something for you 👉 Need a CV Consultation? Start here with our Resume Checklist

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