We’re told to be well-rounded—to test drive anything and everything that comes our way so we can find our “thing.”
We’re put through the ringer in classes, internships, summer jobs and entry level spots.
We work through complex and even mundane challenges that, ultimately, make us better equipped to deal with whatever comes our way down the road.
We refine our skills. We sharpen our knowledge. We can show proof-positive that our contributions have had a meaningful, measurable impact on our organization and our clients. We build and grow and evolve and accelerate…
...and we’re expected to fit all of that onto a single page resume?
The answer: yes. And the added reality? It only gets tougher as your career expands and you take on more roles and more responsibilities—and have more successes to show.
Like any job-seeker, you want to highlight the very best of your personal and professional path to date. You’ve heard it all—that resumes are crawled for keywords and you’ll be overlooked if yours don’t sync, or that hiring managers are seeking out super specific skill sets and traits that should pop to the top of your CV.
Just hearing those “fun facts” can be totally anxiety-inducing—it’s as if you could miss out on your dream job and everything that comes after just by not including “managed six junior lifeguards” or “oversaw daily scheduling” in your resume.
Our advice? Don’t worry about catching some bot’s attention. There’s more to assembling an amazing resume than nailing keywords and aligning with a manager’s exact candidate specifications. Here’s how to build the perfect resume, complete with our very own templates to help you get yours in hire-worthy shape fast.
#1. Keep it to a page
Again, we get it—you’re being asked to consolidate every single thing you’ve ever done down to a single page. It’s tough, especially when you’ve spent your college and early career years trying to hone your skills and show your capabilities—and you’ve got a lot of wins to tout.
But here’s the scoop: hiring managers expect one page from all candidates. While some may go over, that right is reserved for people with decades of work history under their belts—a good rule of thumb for most professionals is one page unless you have 20+ years of work experience. So if you’ve got a three-month internship, a few terms abroad and leadership experience via on-campus activities and volunteer work, that’s great. Shout it from the resume-writing rooftops. Spilling over into a second or even third page, though, can show less-than-ideal judgment—that you’re equating this work with an industry veteran’s work.
Try to take the emotion and sentiment out of your resume-writing and, simply, boil it down to just the facts—and what would make someone not in your universe lean in. Managed a sorority fundraiser or campus event? That can be good experience provided you frame it properly—a hiring manager will be much more concerned with your marketing outreach and end metrics versus how you selected the theme, for example. Cut out the fluff and you’ll quickly find yourself down to a page.
Another simple strategy for getting down to one page? If a line item is self-explanatory, mention it and move on. Spent a semester studying in Italy? Add it to your education section—but no need to spell out every course you took unless it’s highly-relevant to the position you’re applying for.
#2. Make your resume simple and easy-to-read
Your resume isn’t the time to show off your super creative, super fun side. While Elle Woods happily handed in a pink scented resume to her law school professor, that was just a movie.
With that in mind, focus on creating a simple, easy-to-read resume. That means:
- Choosing a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial that’s clean, clear and universal
- Keeping font size to 10, 11 or 12, with the exception of your name at the top of the page
- Single-spacing your resume, with 0.50” - 0.75” margins
- Bulleting job- or experience-related specifics to break up copy and make your resume feel easier to read
One exception: if you’re a designer or someone seeking a creative position, we’ll give you a semi-pass here. We’ve seen some incredible resumes custom-designed for design-related spots. That said, if you go for a more creative resume, be sure 1) you’re applying for truly creative jobs where this is more the norm and 2) you adhere to the basics of easy-to-read fonts, proper margins and spacing and bulleted list to help hiring managers work through your achievements.
#3. Think about ORDER
Likewise, order matters. If you’re just starting out, check out this template designed by our founder for current students and recent graduates. Here, you’ll lead with education and shift into your experience—this gives your current academic achievements a chance to shine. Have some real world work under your belt? This template is perfect for working pros and brings your more recent experiences front-and-center. Simply download, plug in your specifics and refine from there.
#4. Lead with results
It’s great that you launched your company’s Instagram presence—but it’s even better that you drove 50,000 new followers and 5,000 new monthly uniques as a direct result.
The lesson here? Lead with results—ideally quantitative ones. If you can put numbers against your work—you drove X new social followers, boosted sales by X% in your market, saw CTRs improve X%—you’ll likely catch a hiring managers eye much more than simply listing off tasks and projects. These data points can also become compelling talking points during your interview.
#5. Refine based on the job
Running social media for a small business is amazing experience no matter how you slice it—but if you’re going for a gig at a B2B company, let’s say, they may not hold up social media management as much as an ecommerce fashion brand would. That said, there’s no need to scrap that experience. Instead, put the work and achievements through a different lens—a lens that would be particularly appealing to the organization you’re reaching out to.
Applying for the marketing gig? Talk about your unparalleled ability to create inspired social content that engages and converts customers. Aiming for the B2B job? Position yourself as customer-centric, with a powerful ability to build relationships, spark conversations and drive active, engaged prospects to businesses. It all falls under the same umbrella, but the core value proposition varies from employer to employer.
#6. Proofread...then proofread again
There’s no excuse for typos in your resume—so proofread, proofread and proofread again. Not confident in your editing abilities? Ask a friend or, even, check out a site like Fiverr or Upwork and, for a small cost, hire a professional editor to give your resume the once-over. If you’re on campus, your career services office should have someone on staff who can proofread.
When you’re done, save as a PDF and only send that PDF draft. If you send a Word doc or link to a Google Doc, you run the risk of fonts or formatting getting lost in translation—and that instantly makes your resume look sloppy, despite all the hard work.
Happy recruiting! Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
For more actionable insights, get our latest posts delivered to your inbox by signing up here.