How to Write an Effective Resume for the Career You Want

Your resume is all about the jobs you have already had. But sometimes, those jobs don’t reflect the career you actually want. So, where do you go from there? How do you take what you have and translate it into the role you want to apply for?

Here’s how to write an effective resume for the career you want with the jobs you have already had:

Focus on skills over job descriptions.

When you think about past roles, what were the actual skills you accumulated? Take a retail position for example. Write about the job from the angle of customer service skills gained rather than the daily tasks of inventory stocking and folding tees. Highlight the skills you learned that would be applicable to the career you are applying for.

Get specific.

Include quantifiable accomplishments to showcase those skills. Anyone can say they have customer service skills, but hiring managers want to see the proof. Consider the difference between the following points:

  • Skilled at communicating with customers


  • Listened to the needs of unsatisfied customers to resolve the issues they faced in a professional, compassionate manner

Identify needs from the posted job description.

The hiring manager will be seeking individuals who can fill a need in the company, and those needs are often described in the posted job description. Make connections between past work you have accomplished and what this position is seeking. If the company is looking for a creative problem solver, when did you creatively solve a problem? Remember, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a work setting. That is what a cover letter is for, which brings us to our next point:

Always include a cover letter.

A cover letter is the gold mine of opportunity. It provides you with a space to show how you are the best person for the job, not just tell them you are. What I mean is that this is your chance to tell a story that demonstrates your experience and skills rather just saying you have experience and skills. Let’s go back to that creative problem solving example. Use your cover letter to tell the story of how you creatively solved a problem in the past. If you are stuck on ideas, try looking though some of these behavioral interview questions. The answers that come to mind when considering those questions are the kinds of stories you could use for your cover letter.

Research resume templates, then do something different.

The hiring manager, depending on the position you are applying for, could be sifting through dozens – if not hundreds – of resumes. The likelihood that those other applicants also conducted a quick Google search for a resume template and used that is quite high. Yours should stand out in its formatting, fonts, and general use of space. Do not be afraid to put something different out there. If you want someone to review and edit yours before you send it out, I’d be happy to help.

Don’t say too much.

Remember all the resumes that hiring manager is reading through? Chances are, he or she is giving it a quick skim or glance over intently pouring over each detail. This means you need to be succinct when writing your resume. You will notice, if you look through the LinkedIn profiles of experts in their fields, that they don’t say much, while those earlier in their careers tend to be too detailed. Less is always more when it comes to a resume.

Customize your resume for the role you are applying for.

As easy as it is to apply for jobs today, a generic resume is not enough to get you noticed. You want to highlight the skills you have that are specific to the career you are applying for. This shows the hiring manager that you truly care about the position and have taken time to make that known. I do not recommend changing up your LinkedIn profile every time you apply for a job; instead, create a PDF resume for each position that is altered to meet the needs of the career you want. Then, add your LinkedIn URL if there is a space to add a website in the application.

First impressions make all the difference and yours is in your resume and cover letter. If you’re interested in having your resume and cover letter written or edited by a professional content creator, contact me today.

Have any other thoughts on how to write an effective resume? Leave them in the comments below!

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