5 Resume Writing Tips for 2023
Are you looking to make your resume stand out in 2023? With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, it's essential to have a resume that showcases your skills and experience in the best possible light.
In this article, I share five expert resume writing tips for 2023 to help you optimize your skills section, clarify your direction, and ensure your resume gets noticed. From highlighting high-priority keywords to tailoring your resume to specific industries and positions, I'll show you how to write a resume that will get you interviews and land your dream job.
Optimize the Skills Section
The skills section is one of my favorites because it’s an excellent opportunity to fit in those all-important keywords. I share a lot on LinkedIn about high-priority keywords, and I want to take a minute to explain what I mean.
High-priority keywords are the skills that employers require for the role. They’re also the terms recruiters use to find candidates that fit the role they’re looking to fill. These high-priority keywords are based on academic, technical, and professional skills. They are not soft skills, which are typically personality descriptors.
There’s a big difference because employers don’t use soft skills when searching for candidates — they use hard skills.
That’s why you need a high-priority skills and keywords section in the top third of your resume after your career summary. In this section, you want to include 12-15 keywords most important to your target role.
You can discover and gather these keywords in a couple of ways. One is to review job postings and highlight skills that the different roles have in common — especially the ones required for the role.
Another way to find relevant skills is to head to LinkedIn and review job postings. When you go to apply, LinkedIn is great about alerting you if you have the required skills for the role (And how those relate to other candidates). A plus is that if you have LinkedIn Premium, there are a whole host of other applicant insights that you can obtain.
An excellent hack for identifying ten high-priority skills is to use the build-a-resume feature on LinkedIn. You can find the build a resume feature on your profile homepage. Go to your profile homepage, and click the “MORE” button. Then select build from the profile. LinkedIn will then prompt you to enter a specific job title. From there, type your target job title, and click apply. On the right-hand side of the page, there should be a list of recommended keywords. These are skills for the target job title that you listed. Check the suggested ones and see if they match up to those in your job posting.
Make sure that you include them on your resume.
Get Clear On Your Direction
It’s impossible to write a resume that will get interviews if you’re not clear on the industry, companies, and positions you’re targeting. Job seekers often ask me if they can use a general resume, and as much as I would like the answer to be yes because it would make things simpler, the answer is a resounding no.
Your resume must specifically address the industry or industries you’re targeting and the position(s) you want. So I want to share five questions you can answer to help you get clear before you start writing your resume:
Q1: What role am I targeting?
Your resume needs to be geared towards one specific position. Employers want to hire specialists, not generalists. You need to position yourself for a specific role if you want to get noticed.
Q2: What companies am I targeting?
Knowing the company, you are targeting helps you narrow your research and be more specific in your writing. You can speak to the company’s pain points when you’ve researched them and know what they need.
Q3: What challenges are they facing?
As you write resume bullets, you want them to show you’ve faced and overcome similar challenges, make sure to include results. Metrics, if you have them, are important to include.
Q4: What skills are critical to success?
The answer to this question tells you exactly which keywords and hard skills you need to include on your resume. We just went over where to find those keywords and hard skills in my first tip.
Q5: How do I add value?
Your resume must show how you can add value in a way that means something to the employer. Focus on accomplishments that resonate with your target company and meet their needs. Not every accomplishment has to be tied to revenue. If you can answer how you add value, you have accomplishments to write about on your resume.
Everyone adds value. If they didn’t, the job wouldn’t exist. How is your performance evaluated? How is the role assessed?
Once you’re clear, you must do two crucial things:
1. Include the target job title at the top of your resume so there is no question in the recruiter’s mind about which role you want.
2. Include the industry you’re targeting in your career snapshot/summary section. This can be easily changed as you apply to different industries, but it lets the hiring manager know you’re targeting their industry.
One of the most common mistakes job seekers make is using generalized resume advice, but with my Resume-In-A-Day Workshop, you’ll learn how to create a personalized resume that showcases your unique skills and experience and gets you noticed by hiring managers.
Choose the Right Format for You
There are three main resume formats: chronological, functional, and hybrid.
The Chronological Resume Format
The chronological resume format showcases your work history in chronological order. It’s organized by the dates you worked at your previous roles with a short description of what you did at each one.
Most chronological resumes list your current role or the most recent role at the top and follow with each previous job in reverse chronological order.
The Pros of a chronological resume:
· Straightforward style.
· Organized paragraphs and visuals.
· Rewards those with impeccable work history.
Cons of a chronological resume:
· Not exciting or modern.
· Doesn’t bode well for job-hoppers or people with large gaps in work history.
The Functional Resume Format
A functional resume showcases your skills, accomplishments, and career highlights instead of only focusing on when you worked somewhere.
To create a functional resume, you’ll first list your most relevant abilities and achievements as they pertain to the job you’re applying for. This will take up the majority of the page. You’ll get to your job history on a much smaller scale later.
Pros of a functional resume:
· Spotlights your transferable skills.
· Draws attention to the value you’ll bring a company.
Cons of a functional resume:
· Sends red flags to hiring managers that you’re trying to hide something. Most recruiters assume if you do not include employment dates, there is an issue or reason why.
· I recommend avoiding this resume format.
A Hybrid Resume Format
A hybrid resume format is a healthy mix of chronological and functional resume formats.
This option gives you the best of both worlds: it allows you to showcase the skills and accomplishments you’ve achieved at the top of your resume while also mentioning your chronological work history in the latter part.
Pros of a hybrid resume:
· Showcases your value, qualifications, and stellar career history.
· And I can’t think of any cons.
· 95% of job seekers will use this type of resume format.
There are a few other steps you can take to ensure your resume gets noticed and captures the attention of whoever reads it, such as:
1. Make it enticing and visually appealing. Add some white space between sections, use a mix of paragraphs and bullet points, and include visual elements (such as charts or graphs) to help improve your resume’s readability. These are more appealing to the eye than straight walls of text.
2. Make sure your resume format reflects your brand. Try adding one color to your resume. Recent studies show that adding one single color to your resume engages the reader and holds their attention for longer — which means they’ll spend more time.
If you’re tired of sending out resumes and not hearing back, it might be time to try a new approach. My Resume-In-A-Day Workshop teaches you how to create a personal-brand-focused resume that will make you stand out from the competition in just one day.
OK, on to tip #4
Show and Tell
You hear many resume experts say show me, don’t tell me. But the better strategy is to show and tell. I’ll give you an example.
I recently worked on an account director resume; revenue growth was the role's first responsibility and requirement. It was a priority skill. So I made sure to include it at the top of the resume. Under my client’s target job title, I included three high-priority keywords; the first was revenue growth.
But I didn’t just say that she possessed revenue growth as a skill. I took it a step further and proved it by including it in her personal branding statement:
Account director who develops market-capturing strategies to elevate small organizations to compete with larger companies, launches enterprise-wide training programs, and surpasses sales goals, repeatedly hitting $1M+ over target.
Then, I made sure to include bullets throughout her resume that supported and further proved our assertion that she knew and could deliver revenue growth:
- Exceeded Q1 and Q2 quotas for 2019—115% and 109%, respectively—finishing #1 in East.
- Surpassed Q1 2020 team revenue goal by $1M and maintained payer access >95%.
- Realized 500% growth in account previously stagnated for two years via a 10-week turnaround program.
So I didn’t just tell the employer; I showed them she was successful at revenue growth. Take this same strategy and see how you can apply it to your resume.
· Identify a primary requirement/skill for the role that you possess.
· Include the skill as a keyword at the top of your resume.
· Provide proof that you possess the skill by sharing examples.
Writing about accomplishments is where I hear from so many job seekers that they struggle the most. If you’re looking for a way to take your resume to the next level, check out my new resume writing workshop, where you’ll learn how to write a polished, interview-winning resume in just one day, with step-by-step guidance and personalized feedback.
Get Noticed So You’ll Get Hired
Ok, so all of the previous tips I’ve shared are geared toward doing two things.
1. Making your resume discoverable in applicant tracking systems.
2. Standing out once your resume is in the hiring manager’s hands.
This last tip will offer additional strategies for getting your resume noticed so you get interviews and get hired.
First, a great resume is only half the job-search battle. You must also actively connect with employees and hiring managers at your target companies. Thanks to LinkedIn, this is relatively easy.
A quick way to do this is to look for the hiring team when applying to a job on LinkedIn. LinkedIn will now include a link to the profile of the person who is posting the job or responsible for hiring for the role. If you have LinkedIn Premium, you can send them an InMail message. If you don’t, you can see if you’re a second-degree connection, in which case you can message them.
I advise that you send them a note after you apply to the role, letting them know you applied and why you believe it’s a good fit. Focus on experience and values, and keep the message short.
Not every hiring manager will respond. It’s a 20 – 40% response rate, but it sure beats the apply + wait + get ghosted stuff happening all the time in today’s market.
While doing that, you can also examine your job search from another angle. Head to the company’s LinkedIn page, and check out their People tab to see employees. Look through the list and see if there’s anyone you’re already connected to — a fellow alum or someone else, like a group member with whom you share a connection. Then, request an informational interview.
Do not ask for a job or a referral. Your goal is to gather information and advice if a referral comes of your conversation; GREAT! But your goal is to gather more information to see if the company/industry/role fits you and to get advice from someone in the industry/company on how they found success.
You will be surprised how many people are willing to help when you ask for a favor, and once you get to know each other, how many are willing to offer names of others you can speak to or who might give a referral for an open role.
One last tip: Find and follow your target company’s page on LinkedIn. Then, engage with what they post — whether that’s an ad, content, or something else. LinkedIn spotlights you as a candidate when you apply to a job if you’re engaged with that company on the site. It alerts the hiring manager that you’re more likely to respond if they reach out to you about a role, which makes you stand out even more as an applicant.
Don’t wait any longer to take control of your job search and create a resume that will make you stand out from the competition.
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