Resume 101 – 5 Essentials of a Job-winning Resume in 2020

computer 4201009 1920

Most people never hear back from a recruiter just because their resume did not make sense. 

A resume is not simply a piece of paper but it is your ticket to getting shortlisted for the job of your dreams. Right from the ideal length, to the top things to cover in it, to the importance you should give to each element and how to illustrate them in your resume  – a job-winning resume covers it all. 

The devil lies in the details and a job-winning resume is one that is mindful of these details. 

So in this article, I have covered 5 essentials to writing a job-winning resume. For best results, you can use an online resume builder with ready-to-use resume templates that will bolster your chances of getting shortlisted. 

Let’s begin.


1) What do recruiters look for in a resume


Job seekers have been on a mission to impress recruiters with a resume that stands out. But most of them turn out to be outright bland and uninspiring.

How to strike the right balance with your resume is a question that has been plaguing job seekers for what seems like eons of job rejection and no call-backs.  To beat yourself up about it is no solution, so stop that right away. A recruiter has barely 6 seconds to screen a resume, so it is important to identify what it is that they look for in the first place!

Being aware of the latest recruiting trends can act as a window into the life of an average recruiter who is crippled under the weight of a thousand resumes every day. 

But here’s a list of the things they look for: 


  • Relevance: 


Many recruiters have cited irrelevance as the primary reason for not shortlisting a candidate.

A resume that fails to make sense or does not, in any way, resonate with the needs of the job vacancy is destined for doom. This is why relevance is key to writing a fantastic resume that holds the interest of the recruiter for more than just 6 seconds. 

Our advice?

Don’t talk about each and every one of your work experience and achievements under the sun. Instead, fill up your resume with information that is relevant for the job you are targeting. 


  • Keywords: 


Recruiters are not specialists in every field. They are not subject matter experts – irrespective of their area of specialty (being human resource), they are responsible for fishing candidates for each department. 

They probably don’t know who the best fit for a particular role is. This is the main reason why a lot of highly qualified professionals lose out on a job opportunity to less qualified people.

This is why it’s important for job seekers to level up their resume writing game.

A simple way to get shortlisted is to analyze the job description for keywords and incorporate them in your resume. Because guess what?

Recruiters tend to engage in this practice too!

They try to match your resume against the job description and cherry-pick the resume that most resembles the job description.

So here’s a word of advice:

Always use keywords in your resume if you can confidently justify the same in interviews. 


  • What to write in a resume


Before putting on your thinking cap, you need to ask yourself this question:

Who are you writing it for? 

Your resume goes in the hands of an HR Clerk and the Hiring Manager. However, there is another player that most companies look up to – the ATS

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software that helps with the screening of resumes based on a set of keywords. This system assists recruiters with chucking out irrelevant candidates and shortlisting ones that are in line with what the job requires. 

This is why it is important to write a resume that is ATS-compliant.

Here are some tips that can help you write:

.Use the reverse chronological format to structure the content of your resume:

Using the reverse-chronological format means arranging your resume in a reverse-timeline order. Simply put, this means that you should prioritize the most recent events first followed by the least recent experience.


  • Your resume should be clutter-free with appropriate font size & spacing:


Resumes that are bulky and ill-organized tend to lose out on hitting the right notes with the ATS as the software is unable to parse it due to its bad structure. Giving the right spacing between sections and using a uniform font type across your resume can help.

  • Use one-liner points to improve the readability of your resume:

Most people tend to use bulky paragraphs to talk about their work experience details. You should stop this right away and use one-liner points as this helps enhance the readability of your resume, which is important to get your resume parsed by an ATS.


3) How long should your resume be

A recruiter’s job is to go through thousands of job applications to identify one perfect candidate in an unending pool of candidates.


They do not enjoy the luxury of evaluating a single resume from top to bottom. They most certainly don’t have the time to go through a 3-4 page resume.


Make your job a lot easier and don’t go overboard with the resume length.


An unending resume spanning 4 pages is not the hallmark of an ideal resume.


Truth be told, an ideal resume should be of only 1 or 2 pages, depending on the number of years of experience you carry. 

But, you need to categorize this as well. Do not let this trouble you, though. 

If you are a professional with over 10 years of work experience, you should write a two-page resume. If your experience does not transcend 10 years, stick to writing a one-page resume.

A lot depends on the country you’re targeting as well. The above rule mostly holds true in the West, but in the Mideast and certain parts of the East, candidates end up sporting 3+ pages in their resumes as well. 


4)The mistakes to avoid in a resume 


Recruiters want to find errors in your resume just so they won’t have to peruse through the rest of the document and reject you right away. 

So, writing an error-free resume becomes important here. When we talk of an error-free resume, we are referring to those resumes that do the bare minimum of avoiding mistakes that we tend to overlook.

Our advice is to simply stick to the checklist below to avoid errors: 

  • Avoid usage of first and second-person pronouns. 
  • Avoid writing long paragraphs, and construct only one-liner points. 
  • Arrange the section in a way that the recruiter can tell at a glance, what they are looking at.
  • Do not use weird fonts & format. This is one place where being traditional could help your cause.


5)What sections to include in a resume


The sections in a resume are divided into two categories: Fundamental & Optional

Fundamental SectionsThe fundamental sections are the must-haves in a resume. To construct a resume, you need to have the following sections: 


  • Resume Header: Your name is your de-facto resume header. Write it at the extreme top.


    • Personal Information: Just include your contact details such as your email ID, mobile number, and location. Refrain from providing inessential information such as race, gender, color, marital status, etc. unless explicitly asked for. 


  • Profile Title: Write your current/last-held job designation.


    • Summary or Objective: All you have to do here is summarize your professional journey and achievements. Do not breach the 3-4 lines limit.


  • Key Skills: If you have tech-centric skills and knowledge of tools, you can categorize your skills into two halves: key skills and technical skills.


  • Professional Experience: This section is reserved for detailing your professional journey – more specifically, the quantifiable impact of your professional contributions to date.
  • Education:  Write your educational details such as your degree name, institute name, location, and enrolment & graduation details.


Optional Sections: As the name suggests, these sections are optional while constructing your resume. Depending on the profile you are targeting, they can be equally significant. The following section come under the umbrella of the optional category:

  • Awards & Recognition
  • Certifications
  • Volunteering Experience
  • Additional Information


Here are some key takeaways to incorporate while writing your resume:

  • Use action verbs to construct accomplishment oriented points. 
  • Avoid usage of jargon & abbreviation. 
  • Avoid instances of first- and second-person pronouns. 
  • Signify your achievements in quantitative terms.

Got any more queries around your resume? Feel free to drop a comment below!

Avatar of admin
About the Author

Hi All! My name is Daniel and I would like to welcome you to my blog. Please feel free to reach out.