Creating, reorganizing, or editing your own resume can seem like a very daunting task. You have to remember all the places you’ve worked, the duration of the time you spent there, the roles you filled, your job responsibilities, and then tailor all that information based on the job posting you’ve selected to apply to. What do you put first? What words should you choose to catch a hiring manager’s eyes? Where do you begin?
The beginning of the resume is where you’ll make the greatest impact on a hiring team’s radar. As a rule of thumb, especially for those with under 10 years of professional experience, you want to stick to one page. The first third of that first page is going to be the most important part of the resume job posters look at, regardless of how many pages your resume may be. Those who are mid-to-senior level may have two or three pages, but you want to try to showcase your experience and skills in the most concise manner possible, so people don’t overlook your resume if they think it’s too long.
What do you put in that first third of the page, you may be asking yourself?
If you have a chronological resume, you’re going to want to put the most recent and relevant work experience to the job you’re applying for at the top. Listed underneath that should be 3 to 5 bullet points highlighting your achievements and responsibilities while working there. Using keywords that match the language used in the job posting will help you stand out and give the hiring manager a sense of if you’re right for the job. Use concise numbers to make your achievements quantifiable where possible. With recent and relevant experience matching what they’re looking for right at the top of your resume, you’re on the right track towards further consideration.
If you have a functional resume, you want to highlight skills you’ve acquired using keywords from the job posting at the beginning of your resume. You don’t want to embellish your skills so much that when questioned about the experiences that developed those skills, you don’t have any supporting stories, but you do want to make yourself shine here. Sometimes employers care less about how much work experience you have and more about having transferable skills to the job they’re posting.
If you’re thinking about including volunteer work, special interests, or a summary statement, those are all fine to include. At the beginning of the resume, however, think about what the job you’re applying to is asking for, what experiences or skills you have that match that, and use those key words from the job description early on, so the potential employer doesn’t think to overlook your resume or application. You want to make the greatest impact you can right away so you can increase your chances of further consideration for the posting!