How to Create A Perfect Resume

A resumé does not land you the job.  Instead, it’s a tool for getting responses, phone calls, and interviews. Because of today’s highly competitive job market, your resume needs to set you apart from both your internal and external competition. It should:

  • Be a brief overview to sell your knowledge, skills and experience in an accomplishment and metrics- driven way to position yourself as an ideal candidate able to add immediate value (it’s not a biography)
  • Demonstrate your value and contributions as opposed to just listing your day-to-day responsibilities
  • Keep the reader engaged with active language to describe your achievements and responsibilities
  • Be free of excessive repetition
  • Provide scope wherever possible (e.g., budget sizes, team sizes, size of businesses, accounts managed, etc.) and quantify a much as possible (e.g., percentages or hard dollar values for growth/savings)

Here is a video that walks you through the steps for resume success:


Many of the main components of a resumé have changed in recent years to meet today’s brief resume reviews. The average recruiter spends 6 seconds reviewing a resume. Four seconds are spent looking at only four areas:

1) job titles, 2) companies, 3) start/end dates, and 4) education. Beyond your actual experience on your resume, here are some tips for maximizing the real-estate at the top of your resumé by adding these sections:

Objective Title

The outdated objective statement (e.g., “Seeking an opportunity to utilize my skills and advance my career with a company”) has been replaced with an objective title, which is a title (e.g., Senior Project Manager, Operations Executive, Sales Manager, etc.) listed at the top of the resume to reflect what you are targeting for your job search. This immediately gives your readers some direction.

If you are sending the resume to networking contacts, make the objective title more general or specific based on your goals. An example of a specific objective title could be “Senior Manager Specializing in Technical Operations & Quality Assurance” while a general title may be “Senior Operations Manager.” If you are responding to job ads, switch out the title to match the title in the job ad.

Summary Statement

This is your resume’s version of a Professional Value Proposition. It can be a brief paragraph or a list of bullet points that provide a brief overview of what you have to offer. The goal of the summary is to communicate your value as quickly as possible. This summary typically covers:

Years of service with your employer, years of experience in a specific area or field Industry expertise (if your job search is specific to industry/industries)

What you specialize in and what makes you unique

Types of results you deliver consistently and your approach in doing so

Key Skills

A listing of key skills or areas of expertise can be three to five lines that include keywords and terms from your skillset. This can be useful for keyword optimization on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which are used by potential employers to process, track, and filter online applications. You can modify and reprioritize this section based on the major keywords related to the job you are applying to. Besides being useful for the ATS, it also visually stands out to readers and provides a quick glimpse.

Resume Standards & Best Practices

Some general guidelines to follow as you evolve and refine your resume in response to new opportunities:

  • The standard and recommended length for a resume is one full page or two full pages (avoid quarter or half pages). There may be an exception if you are in a highly scientific/technical field and require a CV. An addendum may be used for additional experience beyond these recommendations.
  • Margins of a resume should be no less than 5″ all around
  • Use a common font to avoid compatibility issues. Common fonts include Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, Cambria, Garamond, and Book Antiqua. Font size should be 10 pt. to 11.5 pt.
  • Include active language and high-impact words throughout. Keep the tense consistently in present for current positions and in past for prior positions.
  • Use implied first person or third person throughout; avoid using personal pronouns (I, me, my).
  • Incorporate basic design elements (e.g., bolding and lines to separate section titles), but never a picture.
  • List years of experience as 10+, 15+, or a maximum of 20+ in the summary. Avoid listing years for positions or education that go back more than 15-20 years (use “Prior to XXXX” instead).    It can be acceptable to only list years of experience on resumes (2011-2012).
  • Use “and” instead of ampersands (&) within content unless it’s part of a title or term (e.g., M&A).
  • Avoid using very long lists of bullets or large blocks of text; break them into categories to provide a visual break.
  • Don’t use text boxes or tables to list information (i.e., summary statements, key skills, etc.) or put the resume in a PDF format if you are planning to submit the resume online. It won’t be picked up by Applicant Tracking System/ATS.

About Dr. Sheila Boysen

Sheila M. Boysen, Ph.D., PHR, BCC, MCC is Master of Organizational Leadership Program Director and ICF ACTP Director at Lewis University

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