5 Steps to Writing a Resume that Sells

by | Dec 15, 2015 | HR Management

How the heck do they do it?

How do your co-workers get so many job offers and interview calls while you get nothing?

All that with absolutely zero effort.

Let’s be honest here – you have tried your best.

You got your resume added to those job sites. You got it forwarded to all the recruiters on your mailing list. And yet, they don’t call.

It is like your resume has gotten lost.

So…What do you do?

You could either try what you have done in the past.

By sending emails blasts to recruiters and by adding your resume to other job portals that you might have missed, until you actually run out of them.

Which you would sooner or later.

Or you could change those defeating aspects in your resume and spice it up so that it gets noticed every time you send it out.

The choice is yours.

Understand the importance of getting noticed.

The basic psychology of getting noticed remains the same. But most often we try and overlook them.

Lets for a moment think that you are the recruiter who is frantically trying to fill a position that is vacant. And like most recruiters you have a deadline to meet.

What do you do?

You would still have to select the best profiles and have it passed to the right staff so they get interviewed. But the problem here is not the lack of resumes to pick and choose from, but the lack of time on your part to read through them and find the ones that stand out.

This is the same situation all recruiters are in.

And that is why your resume might not get noticed.

Whether recruiters do it intentionally or not, we know they have developed a pattern to wade through multiple such resumes, most of which are similar looking.

So the best chance that your resume has in getting noticed is when it works like a marketing document.

Just enough to invoke curiosity of the recruiter to read a little further.

With that in mind, here are 5 simple tweaks that would help your resume to stand out and sell yourself better.

STEP ONE: Use a more natural sounding language

Before you start writing your resume, ask yourself this: Is the language you write understood by recruiters? And am I helping them to easily understand the role that I have played in my previous organizations.

While most resume have jargons and complex sentences, you need to separate yourself by conveying all that you have done in a language that is simple and easily understood.

The simpler your language, the higher are the chances of your resume being read by the recruiter.

Remember, recruiters and employers scan your resume and on an average they spend about 5-7 seconds looking at a profile.

So, if you can demonstrate your capability within those 20 seconds, there is a higher probability that your resume could move to the next level.

Here is quick example of how most objective statements are written and how you could make it different.

STEP TWO: Using keywords

To set the context of this section, let me first explain what keywords are.

These are terms or phrases every recruiter looks for in your resume FIRST. And these are the same phrases that could get you an interview quickly.

Do not confuse these with Jargons. Jargons are unnecessary addition to make the language look and sound flowery. Removing them from your resume would really not change the context at all.

On the other hand, Keywords get you the momentum that is needed. These could be as simple as highlighting the right certifications acquired to having certain terms mentioned on your resume that match the Job description provided by recruiter.

Recruiters are mostly scanning your resume for those words and they give your resume an average of 5-7 seconds.

Unless you include those words, your resume does not really pop or catch the eyes of the recruiter.

And here is a simple google search technique that you could use to check what most recruiters include as requirements in their job description. What you are searching in those job descriptions are patterns that seem common and repetitive. These patterns then form keywords or phrases that you could use in your resume.

Here are some quick tips to get the noticed:

“Project Manager” AND “job description” filetype:doc – Copy and paste this in Google and replace the “Project Manager” with your specific Job title. That way you could draft a better looking resume with necessary keywords.

Furthermore, you could also do any of those global certification courses that are popular in your field of work. They not only enhance your skills but could get you the mileage when needed the most.

STEP THREE: Format and Design

You need to give formatting and design some good thought. These are psychological items that get your profile some extra brownie points.

Imagine if you are a recruiter and you are looking through tones of resume every day and each of them having blocks and blocks of texts. Would you even care to read them?

Your eyes are already tired and huge paragraphs would an eye sore. So here is what you need to do:

Keep your sentences short
The simplest way to avoid an eye sore is to keep the sentences short and readable. Combine only a couple of sentences [preferably 3-4 sentences] to make a paragraph. That way your resume looks more inviting than the rest.

Use the most common font
The next most important item on the list of readability is fonts. Use a simple looking font that does not have funny looking characters.

Selecting a special font is good. But remember the person you send it to might not have the same fonts in his word directory. Now that would make your resume absolutely unreadable.

Sub headlines, Bold and Italics
It is a basic tactic to break up your resume into sections and each section could be highlighted with a sub-head.

Keeping this formatting even through out your resume could help you highlight your best skills. Bold, italic and sub-heads generally have the habit of catching the eye. That is one of the biggest reasons why you see more books and authors following this principle.

Create bullet list of accomplishments
Numbers tell stories and they help you sell yourself easily. What you need is to show recruiters that you are capable of delivering results.

There are two simple things that are important when your resume is weighed against other.

  1. Qualification – like global certification and other job enhancement skill that fits the requirement.
  2. Accomplishments – like result that you helped to drive when you were with your previous company.

That is why you need to show case your achievements as a bullet list, which actually seem better than writing a list of duties as a block of text.

Furthermore, these set of duties vary from company to company, but what adds spice to these duties are the results that you drove. So don’t forget to include them.

Minimalistic resume design
Keeping your resume uncluttered could attract a lot of attention. In fact, it gives the recruiter a good feeling that you are someone who would really look into how things are being presented.

Remember that you need space to tell your compelling story and to sell yourself. The days of one page resume are gone. Even a fresh graduate has more than a page to describe his achievements. But anything more than three pages could be an overkill.

STEP Four: Brief summaries with quantified results

Showcase your accomplishments and quantify them for an overall impact. This is the only way you stand out from those who have applied for the same position. You could do so by telling recruiters:

How much budget did you manage?

How many people reported to you?

What is the size of projects you handled?

How many events you conducted?

What were the overall saving?


STEP FIVE: Keep your social profiles updated

Remember there is nothing like social proof. These really don’t go on your actual resume but are considered as one of the most useful links you could have provided.

All those achievements that you have listed are good. But mixing those with actual recommendations on social channels adds that much needed spark to your resume.

And the best source for this is LinkedIn.

But if you are little more skilled, you could certainly start a blog and document your learning. That way people who read your blog generally understand your skills at glance. Furthermore, you might also receive direct offers from people who follow your work.

Most web developers use these strategies to get hired without actually handing out a physical resume copy.

Look at it this way – Everyone who submits their resumes does not necessarily consider having it in multiple formats. But you would have two resumes. First as physical copy and the second on platform that could showcase your skills, which could either be a Blog or a LinkedIn profile.

And when recruiters know that you are socially active, it sends them all the right signals. So, consider keeping your social profiles active and updated.

Consider This:

It is easy to fall into a trap with it comes to writing your resume.

So..choose an idea and stick to it.

Frequent changes to your resume would be serious waste of time. First send your resume to a few recruiters and with the feedback that you have got from then, you could have it edited.

Remember recruiters don’t care about word count. They only want valuable information. They want to understand your achievements and they want to see if you are a good fit.

So, stop worrying about word count.

And start giving them valuable information.

Satish Rajagopalan, CISA, ITIL Foundation
CEO & Founder at Spearhead EduOnline Pvt Ltd. (the company that owns and operates ApnaCourse.com). He holds a btech in Computer Science, an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship and a post graduation in Finance. Read More.

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