When your dream employer is looking through a stack of resumes, chances are, they’ll only spend a mere 6 seconds reading yours. That means your resume says a lot about you in very little time. If it’s unorganized or has a typo, they’ll assume you’re careless. If it grabs their attention with creative formatting and stellar experience, they’ll assume you’re a rockstar.

Ultimately, your resume’s only job is to catch the employer’s attention and convince them to interview you. But to do that, you need to ensure you’re maximizing your six seconds and creating a good first impression.

Here are 5 tips for writing an effective resume that can make you a top candidate:

Be Creative

You only have one chance to catch the reader’s attention, so the format and design of your resume matters. Finding a unique layout or incorporating an eye-catching chart can help you cut through the clutter and effectively communicate your skills. If you’re looking for examples, check out these unique resumes.

Content Rules

While it’s essential for your resume to catch the reader’s attention, you shouldn’t let the design distract from the content. Your resume should reflect experience that’s relevant to the position, use active language and demonstrate results. Most importantly, you should always tweak each resume to fit the specific position.

Do Your Homework

Customizing your resume should go beyond matching language to the job posting. Doing your homework can help uncover information that sets your resume apart. It ensures your language aligns with the organization’s culture and can help the employer envision you as a part of their team.

Optimize

Many organizations use a computer algorithm to scan resumes and identify best fits for the position. This means it’s crucial to use the same keywords as the job posting. Many algorithms are designed to identify resumes that include results, so including measurable outcomes is key. If you want to see how your resume fairs, try this online resume optimizer.

Proofread

If you’re not going to invest the time to perfect your own resume, a potential employer may find themselves wondering if you’ll invest time into your work as an employee. Triple checking your resume for errors before you press submit ensures your experience can speak for itself. If you’re applying for a job in communications, make sure you incorporate AP style guidelines as needed.

Bonus tip: don’t save your resume file as simply “Resume” — everyone else does this. Imagine the confusion for the hiring manager who has to download countless files with the same name. Instead, save the file with your name and the word resume. This very small step will show you’re all about the details.

Most importantly, follow your instincts and let your resume communicate who you are. Done right, your experience will speak for itself. Don’t be afraid to break the rules, as long as you do it tastefully!

Were there any other tips for creating an effective resume that we missed? Let us know your tips in the comments below!

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