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Tips for Writing a Strong Resume

When it comes to resume writing, there’s no one way to get the job done, but there are certain universal pointers that can make any resume stand out to potential employers. No matter where or what you’re applying for, these general guidelines can help you ensure that you’re doing yourself and all you have to offer justice.

Always opt for an active voice over a passive one.

An active voice in technical terms is defined as a sentence in which the subject is doing the acting in relation to the object– you, in other words, are the one completing the task. In more broad terms, this just means emphasizing action verbs and the knowledge acquired through your hands-on experience.  Rather than simply noting “files organized using x program”, for instance, you might say “organized files using x program” and then proceed to explain the relevance or impact of this learned skill, which leads us to the next point:

Provide (brief) elaboration on what a particular skill allowed you to do.

When creating a bullet point for the skills acquired through any past experience, it’s important to give context to why that skill was and is useful. If you used Microsoft Excel extensively in the past, then provide additional information for what that accomplished: did you use it for organizational purposes? Keeping track of data? Emphasize what this skill was used for, or essentially:  “[action] with [program, skill, knowledge] in order to [accomplishment, task].”

Make sure to focus on relevant skills and experience.

A standard resume is no longer than one page, and there’s a reason for that: when potential employers are on the hunt to fill a position, they’re sifting through numerous applications within a limited time frame. That’s why it’s so crucial that your resume highlights what’s relevant to the specific position you’re applying for, rather than serve as a rundown of all your past experiences. While this will create a more focused and streamlined resume, it will also allow you more room to expand upon the past roles and responsibilities you’ve undertaken that are related to your prospective job. In short: more relevant details about a select list of experiences are more important than having a long list of accomplishments without depth.

Never neglect two things in the closing paragraph of a cover letter:

Many applications will require a cover letter in conjunction with your resume, and ensuring that this letter is equally up to par as the resume itself is important. Always thank the reader for reviewing your resume, and always specify your interest in attending an interview. The latter detail in particular emphasizes your enthusiasm for the position and the prospects of getting the job in question. Remember that a cover letter is not a re-formatting of the resume and is instead an expression of why you believe you’d be a good fit for the position and ultimately with the organization or company.

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