4 Steps to a Great Resume

by   |     |   careers@bju.edu   |  

What comes to your mind when you hear the word resume? Do you know all the reasons that you need to have one? How do you format it? Is there any standard way to write one? How do you know that a real person will actually see that attached document, not to mention give the document a second thought?

First of all, the resume is your key to getting an interview. The recruiter has no idea that you might even be interested in the job if you don’t get a resume into his hands. It begins the job conversation and provides a snapshot of why a recruiter should consider you. The resume helps to identify gaps or needed development, which helps the recruiter understand where you will need to grow in a position. And your resume can clearly display your qualification to support your request for a better wage.

You may think, “But I’ve already got the job. My internship supervisor already asked me to stay on permanently, so do I still need one?” Great! Congratulations on that position! And, yes, you still need a resume.

It is important to have a resume on hand at all times, and you will benefit from having one on file with the employer even though they may have already offered you the position. Not to mention that if you ever want to move on to another position, you should always have one ready to go!

Step 1: Make it easy to read.

The recruiter and human resources department staff should have no problem finding the information they need and want from your resume. At the top of the page, include your name (slightly larger font than the rest of the resume), address, phone number, hyperlinked email address, and hyperlinked LinkedIn URL.

You can include some form of a title as well. Something like “Tax Accountant Candidate” or “Elementary Teacher Candidate” would be effective and sufficient. This sets your resume apart from others that may be for alternative positions within the same company.

Step 2: Stand out! But be consistent.

You want your resume to be professional, appealing and easy to read. But you also want it to be set apart and eye-catching. A recruiter spends only about 6–8 seconds glancing over your resume, so guide the eyes of the reader. You also may have an Applicant Tracking System to get your resume past, so you want it to be very logical and accessible.

You want the recruiter to find your resume easy and pleasing to read. Choose sans-serif fonts such as Calibri, Arial and Tahoma, and never use smaller than a 10-point font. You can make your resume easily scannable by using bold and italicized headers. Even using some appropriate and professional colors such as deep blues or purples can be great!

To top it all off, organize your sections in order of relevance—Profile, Education, Experience, Community Service, etc. Within each section organize entries in reverse chronological order by end date. And voila! You have the makings of a great resume.

Step 3: Use a profile instead of a skills or objective section.

This one may surprise you. Profiles or summaries are in vogue. You want to overview your accomplishments and strengths related to your desired position. Communicate what you have to offer the employer and the company. Use keywords and transferrable skills (skills that can be used in any position), and relate it all to the resume or job focus. You can even use the job description and requirements from the application to help you build this section.

You need to prove anything in your profile with support or examples. Talk about how you developed those communication skills. How did you gain experience with people? At what proficiency level are you speaking Spanish? What about you and your experience would make a recruiter want you?

Step 4: Make it relevant!

Tailor your resume for the position you’re seeking. Once again, look at the job description. Use it to find out what is important to the position and the company. Include your college degree, related projects or classes, all work experience (highlight transferrable skills), and additional experiences (volunteering, church ministry, leadership, etc.).

The company is a puzzle that is missing a piece—YOU! So show the recruiter how you are that missing piece to their company.

The resume writing process may seem challenging, but it is absolutely doable. Follow these key steps and utilize the resources at careerservices.bju.edu (if you’re a BJU student or alumnus), and you will be set to get that interview!


BJU’s Career Services provides career advising, professional development tools and networking opportunities for students and alumni. Get more information at careerservices.bju.edu.