Whether you're part of The Great Resignation (more on that here) or just like to keep your options open, a current, well-thought-out resume is a must. We caught up with Beverly Smith — whose job as president and co-founder of Career Staffing Services is literally to connect employers and employees — for advice on how to help your resume cut through the crowd. Take it away, Beverly.


When updating your resume, keep it simple and avoid fancy formatting. Today most resumes are sent electronically. If you’re asked to upload your resume, there’s a good chance it’s being parsed into the employer’s applicant tracking system (ATS). A simple format ensures the ATS is able to read your resume and doesn’t reject it. The following items should be included in your resume.


1. Contact Information

The contact information at the top should include your name, phone number and email address. Create a professional email address through Gmail. This should be some variation of your name. Gmail accounts are considered to be more up to date and make a better impression.

If you have an updated LinkedIn profile, include it as well. Additionally, if you have a website and it is relevant to your job search, you should include it.


2. Headline

A headline tells the recruiter who you are in terms of your career and position you are seeking. It should be clear and concise. It follows your name and contact information and should stand out on the page. Headlines should be reflective of the position for which you are applying such as marketing director or operations manager.


3. Executive Summary or Summary of Qualifications

This replaces the outdated "Objective." It should speak to your specific skills and experiences and highlight major career accomplishments. It’s your opportunity to catch the eye of the recruiter and entice them to keep reading your resume. Most recruiters spend 6-10 seconds reviewing a resume before deciding if it gets filed or they keep reading. 


4. Key Strengths

Use this area to bullet point relevant skills. Limit your list of skills to what is required for the position for which you are applying. The idea is to make it easy for the recruiter to read and see that you are qualified for the position they are trying to fill. 


5. Work History

The most common format is to list work history in a chronological format with your most recent experience at the top. However, if your career progression has been non-linear, you have employment gaps or you’re re-entering the job market, then a functional format would serve you better.

Work history should include employers, dates of employment, job titles and specific details of key achievements. It should not read like a job description. A recruiter wants to see what you have done that makes you stand out and be a potential asset to their organization.

Use action verbs such as: grew, built, advised, controlled, gathered, launched, etc. Include specific and measurable results. Instead of saying "responsible for managing a large profitable department," consider saying "managed a 100-person marketing department that increased conversion rates by 20% over a two-year span."


6. Education

Put your highest level of education. Include the name of the school and the degree achieved. If you have completed continuing education certification courses you can include them if they are relevant to the job for which you are applying.


What NOT to Include:

  • a picture of yourself

  • hobbies or extracurricular activities unless they are relevant to the job for which you are applying

  • "References available upon request"

  • political and religious views

  • boilerplate fluff and generic phrases such as "team player," "great people skills" or "outstanding work ethic"


Pulling It Together

Your resume should tell a recruiter who you are and what you can do for their organization. Carefully read the job posting, identify key words and use them in your resume. Tailor your resume for each position so that it highlights your best qualifications. 

Finally, proofreading is a must! Grammar and spelling mistakes will ruin a good resume.


Beverly Smith is president and co-founder of Career Staffing Services Inc. of North Little Rock. Email her at beverly@cssar.com.


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