Write a Winning Resume: Proven Tactics to Land Interviews

Write a winning resume and up your chances of landing a job

Anyone who had been through the job-hunting process knows how excruciating it can be to write a winning resume that lands you a job interview.

A resume is your personal marketing tool to sell your capabilities and capacities to your future employers.

As daunting as the process may be, a resume is, simply put, an overview of your past experience and background. 

Keep that in mind so that your focus is on telling your story instead of the unnerving process.

Why is writing a winning resume important?

A resume is sometimes known as CV or curriculum vitae. Your CV is your key to an interview. Hence, it is crucial to do it right while hitting the right note fast.

But do you know that it also shows your potential employer a few other relevant things like

  • Your writing skills
  • Enthusiasm or seriousness about the job
  • A summary of your work experience
  • Your ability to articulate and organize a lot of information in a concise manner

These are somewhat essential factors that may influence a hiring manager’s decision making.

More importantly, why your resume needs to be outstanding is this. 

Almost 75% of resumes do not reach the hiring manager because they’re rejected by the Applicant Tracking System. 

According to Pat Nunno Roque, a career transformation coach

Some of the reasons for the high rejection rate are either format issues, missing keywords, or phrases the system is programmed to filter. Out of the remaining 25% that pass through the system, only four to six are being called for an interview.

Once the resumes are funneled through the system, research has shown that recruiters take about only six seconds to scan a resume (source: TheLadders, Business Times). 

This means you will need to write a winning resume that doesn’t just pass through the system but also include screenable content for humans.

Now we know why the process is daunting. Within seconds, you need to tell them why you are the best fit for the job and their company.

Why are your resumes rejected?

To improve on your resume writing, you need to first know what gets it bounced. Here is a general list of mistakes that most likely will get your resume rejected.

  • One resume for all job applications
  • Lengthy and confusing write-ups filled with grammar mistakes and typos
  • Heavily designed obstructing the flow of information
  • Unprofessional email address 
  • No contact details provided
  • Your resume is addressed to the wrong person, particularly a competitor
    Do you know that 76% of resumes are discarded for an unprofessional email address (sources: JobVite.com, TheUndercoverRecruiter.com, Work4labs.com and Martin Buckland of www.business2community.com/human-resources)
  • Including photo
    It is statistically proven that resumes with a picture have an 88% rejection rate (sources: JobVite.com, TheUndercoverRecruiter.com, Work4labs.com, and interviewsuccesformula.com).

However, I personally find this point debatable. My take is, if an employer rejects you because of how you look on your resume, they may likely do the same during interviews. 

On the other hand, if you have unique or specific skills that match the job you’re applying for, I’d suggest that you don’t have to include your photo. Reason being that, your qualification should be enough to convince the hirer. 

However, if the line or work requires a certain image, then including a profile photo may bring context to your resume.

What makes a winning resume?

We know what our clients look for in a resume. 

Based on years of working closely with them and holding a deep understanding of the job market, we can tell you these crucial factors to consider.

1.  Writing Style

Many people find writing resumes a tedious and pretentious endeavor. However, honest storytelling with high confidence will make a compelling CV.

Ensure your resume carries an upbeat, positive, and professional tone. Use words like the best, highest, the first, completed, developed, achieved, and more.  

Also include quantifiable outcomes to substantiate your credentials. For example, developed a business plan that reduced 50% of the costs.

2. Skills vs. Job Descriptions

You will match your skills with the job descriptions so the hirer can clearly identify your match. 

For instance, the line of work requires that you liaise with multiple stakeholders. In your resume, you should emphasize on your previous achievements that boast about your skills in project management, time management and effective communication.

3. Keywords & Phrases

To pass the first hurdle, you need to ensure all the right keywords are in place. Beware of too many buzzwords, though. Too many, and you will risk turning the reader off.

They should be widely adopted keywords within the industry. Please read on for details below.

Other common keywords you can include are those that may suggest your competencies the company is looking for. For instance, people management, leadership, project management, key account management, and more.

4. Achievements

Focus on your achievements to convince the interviewer of your potential. Prioritize results that are closely related to the job you’re applying for.

Achievements should always come first before the job summary or work experience. Clients look for how you achieve something rather than what.

5. Proofread

58% of resumes have typos

(source: cultivatedculture.com)

In this era of technology, typo and grammar are no longer something we can easily excuse. There are many free apps and tools in the market you can use to run a typo and grammar check. It is a simple step that carries a weighted impact. 

How to write one that can land you the interview

Let’s begin with the steps to write a winning resume.

Step 1: Know the job you’re applying

Understand what the employer is looking for. Consider these.

  • What is required of you to fulfil the role? Namely the industry or product knowledge and experience or soft skills relevance.
  • What are the unique skills they are looking for?
  • Understand the company, the industry they are in, and their market positioning.

Step 2: Do your research & determine the keywords 

Dig around to know the industry and position you are applying for and list out the relevant keywords.

There are relevant keywords tied to specific industries and positions that a system will recognize.

For instance,

  • Banking – KYC or Know Your Customer
  • Logistics & Supply Chain – FIFO or First In First Out, 3PL or 3rd Party Logistics

Some generic keywords would be 

  • Key Account Management (KAM)
  • Solution Design
  • Inventory Planning

For products or software

  • Tableau
  • JDE
  • Manhattan WMS

In a gist, as long as you have knowledge or experience of the career you’re embarking, you will know your way around the terminologies.

Step 3: Plan the storyline

Plan the structure and format of your resume. Ensure that there is a smooth flow of information like storytelling. 

In the context of storytelling, for instance, you can start with the opening: basic info, the climax: career goals, and finally the solution: your work experience.

However, whatever storyline you’re planning, remember that you have only 6 seconds to convince the resume reviewer that yours is worth continuing reading. 

So try to show the critical convincing stuff on the first page.

Step 4: Jot down important points for each item

Before you begin writing and getting lost in the process, you should identify critical details and keywords to be included in each section. Remember any recognition and awards, major accomplishments, and positive impacts you’ve created.

This step is vital to avoid missing out on significant points.

Step 5: Start writing your winning resume

With all critical information and flow in line, it is time to draft your winning resume. In no particular order, you should write one comes to you first.

Step 6: Putting all together & organize

Now that you have everything written, it is time to review and reorganize. Sometimes, the outline you’ve planned may not flow as smoothly as when you added the content. 

Therefore, never stick to the original flow you’ve planned unless you’ve reviewed your resume in its entirety.

Step 7: Check, check & check

Finally, whip out your Microsoft Word, Grammarly, ProWritingAid, Gingerly, or whichever grammar tool you dig and start scanning. 

As you do that, check your sentences and phrases for better presentation. Remove unnecessary words, phrases, or even sentences. 

Remember to check for ambiguities and rewrite. 

Lastly on Write a Winning Resume

Now that you know what makes a resume good or bad, it is time to revisit yours.

Remember these as you write and check your resume.

  • Ensure clean, crisp, direct writing and with no cluttering info
  • Ensure your skills match the job you’re trying to get
  • Drop unnecessary words, sentences, and phrases that cloud your resume

One last thing before this ends, we know you’ve seen too many contradicting pointers. 

For instance, which should do better: one page vs. multiple pages resume?

We leave the following for you to ponder.

Regardless of the job level, recruiters prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes.

(source: ResumeGo)

This is the result of a survey conducted by ResumeGo from October 15 to November 2 involving 482 professionals who had direct experience with employee recruitment.

What do we think about this result?

Well, regardless of the number of pages. As long as the above pointers we’ve shared are observed, you’re on track to write a winning resume.

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Amos Tay

Amos Tay

Amos Tay is the Senior Partner of Hatch Asia. He is a Gallup-Certified CliftonStrength Coach and lead our executive search, coaching and expand our partnership development across the region.

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