A well-written resume is no different than pre-sales literature—except in this case, you are selling yourself. A resume is considered a very important job-hunting tool, and it should highlight your work experience, education, strengths, accomplishments, and achievements.

In a highly competitive job market, resumes that catch the reader’s eye get read. Recognizing this need, many applicants develop a gimmick resume and/or one printed on colored paper. However, what makes a resume stand out is the content—not fancy extras.

Data & Metrics

Whenever possible, use data and metrics to explain your accomplishments. Using numbers, percentages, dollars, and other quantifiable measures can help explain the impact of your achievements in a clear and concise manner.

For example, instead of saying that you helped increase revenue, you could state that you increased revenue by 25% in six months by implementing a new sales strategy. Similarly, you could state that you reduced costs by 10% by streamlining operations or that you added 50 new customers in a year by developing new marketing campaigns.

Other examples might include your past achievements as they relate to EBITDA improvement, cost savings, productivity enhancements, new markets exploited, new geographic expansions, new innovations/new products developed, new manufacturing capacity, and so on.

Another useful tool to describe your work history is the XYZ formula: Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y], by doing [Z]. This formula helps to clearly and succinctly communicate your accomplishments in a way that is easy to understand for potential employers. For instance, instead of saying that you worked with a team on a project, you could say that you collaborated with five analysts on a go-to-market strategy by researching 20 cities across the United States, resulting in an ARR of $1M.

Resume Do’s and Don’ts:

Do keep your resume to one or two pages maximum, but don’t reduce font size to get more information on the page.

Do remember to use your spell check feature and do remember to have someone other than yourself proofread your resume to make sure it reads well.

Do use clear and concise language. Use simple and easy-to-understand language to make sure your resume is readable and easy to comprehend for hiring managers.

Don’t use too many colors or quirky graphics. Keep your resume style conservative and professional.

Don’t use slang or jargon that may not be understood by the hiring manager.

Don’t skip a job, even if it was for a short time, to make your resume look better. During a comprehensive background check, it will undoubtedly show up. When it does, it will likely prompt the hiring authority to question the validity of your entire resume.

Don’t lie on your resume, as it can damage your credibility and reputation.

Don’t use personal pronouns like “I” or “me” in your resume. Instead, say, “Responsible for the…” .

What Resume Style is Best for You?

There are two basic resume styles to choose from: Chronological and Functional.

The reverse chronological resume is the most widely accepted resume style. It lists your work history in descending order from your present position followed by your previous positions.

The functional resume (often referred to as the analytical or skill-oriented resume) is especially valuable for those candidates who desire to work outside their previous work environment. It is also widely used by candidates who have a chronological gap or numerous jobs over a short period of time. It gives you an opportunity to highlight your skills and experiences to the employer and match them with the company’s needs.

It generally takes a hiring authority about 30 seconds or less to scan a resume and determine if you’re capable of contributing to the company’s bottom line. Therefore, when reviewing your resume, place yourself in the hiring authority’s shoes. Scan your resume for 30 seconds in order to determine if you’re sending the message you want to get across. Ask yourself if your resume accurately depicts who you are, what you know and do, and what you have accomplished. If your resume is vague and general, it’s likely to be discarded. A specific and tangible resume makes for a good first impression. Remember—you only have one chance to create a favorable impression!