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*The* Perfect Resume: 8 Things Best Resumes Share

*The* Perfect Resume: 8 Things Best Resumes Share

Great skills? Amazing layout? Good work history section? What’s the secret behind a *perfect* resume? You’ve come to the right place to find out.

Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Career Expert

You waited months to find a career opportunity as great as this one.

 

This is it. The job you’ve been dreaming about your whole life.

 

Time to start crafting a good resume. But wait a minute—

 

Good won’t do. Heck, even an excellent resume might not be enough to beat the competition.

 

You need *the* perfect resume.

 

And you’ve come to the right place to learn how to create one.

 

This guide will show you:

 

  • A perfect resume example.
  • 9 things all the best resumes have in common (yet most resumes are missing).
  • How to write an ideal resume that lands you the interview.

 

First, have a look at these two resumes. They both come from the same candidate. But the difference is striking.

 

The left one? Less-than-perfect would be a euphemism.

 

The one of the right? Flawless.

 

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.

 

sample resume templates

Sample resume made with our builder—See more templates and create your resume here.

 

Now, see the 8 things that amount for an ideal resume. (How many of these is your resume missing? Let us know in the comments!).

 

Here’s what makes a resume perfect:

 

1

The Perfect Resume Is One That’s Perfect for This Job Opening

 

If I could only share one job-seeking piece of advice for you to remember your whole life, it would be this—

 

Tailor every resume you send to match the position on offer.

 

See, a perfect resume, after all, is the one that’s good enough to land you this job. This means, to create a truly excellent resume you have to target one specific job.

 

Think of it this way—

 

When you’re reading the job offer, stop thinking “This position matches my skills so well, I know I’ll be a great fit.” Instead—

 

Imagine the employer saying: “I have specific business challenges ahead of me. And I have problems with tackling these challenges. I need someone to help me solve these problems.”

 

Then, write a resume that proves you will.

 

How to create a perfect resume tailored to the job?

 

  • Pay close attention to the job description. Read it. Then read it again.
  • Identify the most important keywords related to your prospective duties and desirable skill sets.
  • Try to find the employer’s “pain points” and address them on your resume.

 

Imagine the job ad calls for someone skilled in mobile app development(1), test automation(2), and cross-departmental collaboration(3).

 

Here’s what a perfect resume could read like:

 

A Resume Perfectly Tailored to the Job

 

  • Designed and developed up to 6 successful mobile applications(1) per year.
  • Created a test automation tool(2) to reduce testing time by 55%.
  • Designed project requirements in cooperation with technical staff members, business analysts, and external stakeholders(3).

 

Find out more about this game-changing strategy: How to Write a Targeted Resume

 

2

All Perfect Resumes Use a Perfect Resume Format

 

This means two things.

 

First of all, your resume has to be presentable and elegant. Great resume designs might vary across industries and professions, but all good-looking resumes share some key features.

 

Here’s what makes a perfect resume layout:

 

  • A good resume font: easy to read and professional. Size: 11 to 12pt for the main contents, 13 to 16 pt for section headings.
  • One-inch margins on all four sides. Single line spacing. Double space before and after each section heading.
  • Eye-catchy resume header with your job title and contact information.
  • Legible resume sections in proper order: Summary or Objective, Work Experience, Education, Skills, and Additional Sections.
  • Lots of white space to guide recruiters’ eyes to where you want them to go.

 

Secondly, you need to choose one of the three standard resume formats:

 

 

Here’s all you need to know about these in a nutshell.

 

The Perfect Resume Format: How to Choose It?

 

resume formats

 

Learn more: The 3 Resume Formats and How to Pick the Right One

 

3

Amazing Resume = Achievements Over Responsibilities

 

Run-of-the-mill resumes are filled with phrases like:

 

  • “Responsible for office management.”
  • “Performed additional duties as requested.”
  • “Communicated with clients and scheduled meetings.”

 

YAWN.

 

On a perfect resume, don’t just show what you did. Instead, highlight how well you performed your duties and what you achieved.

 

To do it well, use the so-called “PAR formula.” PAR stands for “Problem-Action-Result.”

 

Here’s how to make a great resume following this formula:

 

The Perfect Way to Highlight Achievements on a Resume

 

Instead of writing:

 

wrong
Responsible for the design and implementation of social media marketing strategies.

 

Say: 

 

right

Spearheaded a comprehensive social media relations strategy for a new line of lifestyle products; grew Facebook fanbase from 0 to 12,000 in 4 months; gained 35,000 Instagram followers in 3 months.

 

  • Problem: No social media exposure.
  • Action: New strategy.
  • Result: 12,000 Facebook fans in 4 months and 35,000 Instagram followers in 3 months.
 

Find out more about highlighting your professional achievements here: How to Describe Your Work History on a Resume

 

4

An Ideal Resume Shows and Validates Your Great Skills

 

An easy way to improve your resume is to plug in the most job-relevant skills.

 

Remember when I mentioned tailoring? Here it comes again.

 

You need to list those professional skills that fit the job like Spandex. Here’s how to do it:

 

How to Add Great Skills to Make a Resume Perfect

 

  • Start with a spreadsheet with all your professional skills. List technical skills, as well as transferable skills.
  • Go back to the job ad. Look for skill-related keywords. Pay attention to requirements such as software proficiency, communication skills, or foreign languages. Highlight those key skills.
  • Look at your spreadsheet again. How many of the required skills you have? I’m sure it’s quite a few. These go on your resume.
  • Make a separate section for your skills. It will help recruiters spot your qualifications fast. But don’t stop there. Pepper your skills throughout your work experience section. This way, what you claim you’re good at becomes much more believable!

 

We’ve written a comprehensive guide that will teach you everything you need to know about listing skills on resumes. Make sure you give it a read: 99+ Professional Work Skills to Include on Your Resume

 

5

Writing the Perfect Resume Ends With Crafting a Good Resume Profile

 

A resume profile is that short paragraph at the top of your resume. Its purpose is to give a brief synopsis of your top career wins and show why you’re the perfect candidate.

 

The goal is to make recruiters eager to read your resume in full. It should work like a trailer for the rest of your job application. Think of it as a short-and-sweet elevator speech.

 

If you have years of relevant experience, your profile will be a “resume summary,” or a “summary of qualifications.”

A good entry-level resume starts with a “resume objective statement,” or simply a “career objective.”

 

And, although your resume starts with it, it’s the part you should write last.

 

Why?


Well, in short—it’s easier to summarize when you have something to summarize.

 

Before you craft your resume profile, give the rest of the contents a quick read. Pick the most relevant skills and achievements and sum them up in 30–60 words.

 

And one extra thing—

 

Don’t focus it on what you want out of the job. Highlight your unique value proposition. Make an offer.

 

I mean, who would you rather hire?

 

“A skilled X with Y years of experience in Z seeking a challenging role,” or...

 

A candidate “wishing to use proven A skills to help the company B double your C metric in the upcoming quarter?”

 

So I thought.

 

You can learn more about writing this tricky part from one of our dedicated guides:

 

 

6

An Excellent Resume Will Win the Battle Against Robots

 

Here’s a stat every modern job seeker needs to know: 75% of hiring professionals use recruiting or applicant tracking software (ATS) during the hiring process.

 

These programs scan resumes before sending the best ones over to their human counterparts.

 

ATS bots are different from one another, but the overall way they work is pretty much the same: they look for keywords related to the job on offer.

 

If you follow the #1 tip for a perfect resume (again, customize it to match the job ad!), you’ll be good to go.

 

Or will you?

 

Well. Your resume will most likely have the right mix of key phrases. But—

 

You need to make sure the ATS won’t go haywire while scanning your otherwise ideal resume.

 

Modern-day ATS have no problems reading PDF files, but you have to make sure your PDF resume has a text layer.

 

How to check that? Run a simple test for your resume:

 

Copy the text and paste it into a text (.txt) file. If the logic, sections, and keywords make sense, it should be fine for the ATS.

 

Find out more about the surefire ways to create a resume file legible for robots here: File Format for a Resume: PDF vs. DOC

 

But guess what?

 

There’s something else you can do to outsmart the ATS bots.

 

Avoid them altogether!

 

Send your pitch-perfect resume directly to the hiring manager via email. This way, you’ll stand out from 99% of identically-looking candidates who submitted their job applications through an automated job board.

 

Here’s a cool read that will show you exactly how to achieve that: Job Application Email Samples (5+ Examples)

 

7

Perfect Resumes Have No Typos

 

I almost hope I didn’t have to tell you that.

 

Yeah, good. You knew it already.

 

Typos are interpreted as a sign of no attention to detail.

 

But we’re living in 2019 for crying out loud! Most text we’ll ever produce is fully editable. Do typos on resumes matter that much?

 

Oh yes.

 

According to this report, 72% of recruiters will automatically reject a candidate if they spot a typo on their resume.

 

Check your resume for spelling. Then double-check. And triple-check.

 

If you know you have a tendency to make spelling errors, ask a wordsmith friend to help you out. Or use a tool such as Grammarly, or the ProWritingAid plug-in for Google Docs.

 

Whatever it takes. Just. Don’t. Have. Typos. On. Your. Reusme.

 

8

Perfect Resumes Come With Perfect Cover Letters

 

Last but not least.

 

Are cover letters worth the pain?

 

They sure are.

 

No matter how perfect your resume, 4 out of 10 hiring managers won’t even get around to reviewing it, if—

 

You attach no cover letter.

 

Easy math, isn’t it?

 

Submitting a cover letter almost doubles your chances of getting hired.

 

This guide will show you how to write a perfect one: How to Write a Cover Letter for a Resume

 

Key Takeaway

 

Here’s what to do to have a perfect resume for a job:

 

  1. Tailor every resume to match the job on offer.
  2. Choose a perfect resume format for your situation.
  3. Highlight your professional achievements, not just job duties.
  4. List and validate your great skills.
  5. Finish writing your ideal resume with crafting a good resume profile.
  6. Make sure your resume is ATS-friendly.
  7. Proofread your resume. Then proofread it again. Avoid typos at all costs.
  8. Attach a cover letter to maximize your chances of landing the job.

 

All check? Great. I’m sure your resume is truly spotless.


Got more questions about what makes a resume perfect? Need to make sure yours is good enough for the fast-and-furious hiring industry of today? Drop me a line in the comments, I’ll get back to you double quick!

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Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Michael, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) is a career writer and the newsletter coordinator at Zety. Apart from sharing his own resume-writing expertise, Michael reaches out to recruitment and hiring gurus to help you learn the most effective strategies for managing your career.
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