November 25, 2015

The Most Common Question I Get Asked as a Certified Professional Resume Writer

SearchI can wholeheartedly say that I love what I do. I love creating organized, polished documents from chaos and helping people present the best versions of themselves. I feel that people often sell themselves short. Having a third party look over your resume and help you craft the best one you possibly can is one way to make sure that you get the attention you deserve out there in the talent market.

In my time as a certified professional resume writer, I’ve heard one question repeated more often than any other: “What makes a resume great?”

Well – What’s the Answer?

The answer is actually very interesting – and not necessarily what you may think it is. Formatting, reader-friendliness, and aesthetic presentation are all very important for first impressions, obviously. Beyond these things, however, I believe that the most important aspect of any resume is the research behind it.

Research? What Does That Mean?

A great resume comes from someone who has put great effort into not only the appearance of the document, but researching the company and the position the resume is meant for.

If your qualifications don’t directly align with those listed in the job description, it’s probably not the best idea to apply to the position. Not only will it look as though you are applying for a job you aren’t qualified for, but it may also appear that you simply did not read the job description. No recruiter or hiring manager wants to see that.

A great resume is customized for each job description – not a one-size-fits-all document. A great resume has heart and soul. It’s not a piece of paper tossed around by someone who blindly applies to 30+ jobs a day.

How to Make Your Resume Great

The best way to make your resume great is to start out with a base resume that you have drafted to include all of your jobs, skills, achievements, etc. Having this base will enable you to work much more quickly and efficiently. After all, it’s far easier to edit a based document than craft a whole new one out of thin air.

LaptopGo through the description of the job to which you are applying and highlight the key words and phrases scattered throughout the text. Then, go through your base resume and integrate these words and phrases into your own document.

Also, make sure that you are indeed qualified for the position – and make sure to highlight your qualifications in your resume. Similarly, don’t forget to research the company as a whole. Try to slip some references or allusions to the company’s goals and missions into your resume.

Why do all this? Because, when you take the time to research the company and position and tailor your resume accordingly, recruiters will recognize your work ethic and your dedication. People can tell very quickly how much time and effort you have put into your resume. The more customized it is, the better an impression you will make.

I often see people blindly applying to jobs, and when they do get responses (which isn’t often), they don’t even always know what job it is they actually applied for. I can’t even begin to explain how irritating this is to the recruiter reaching out to them.

On the other hand, when someone obviously wants a specific job – and they demonstrate this in their resume – then a recruiter will, at the very least, call them to discuss the opportunity further.

The bottom line is that formatting and wording can make a resume good, but putting in the effort to show why you really want this specific job and would work well within this specific company will make your resume great!

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A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a certified professional resume writer and founder of She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application packages and personal styles. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume and style and boost your confidence.