Infographic: The anatomy of a successful résumé

Are you looking for work? Have you polished up your résumé? With potential employers only looking at résumés for an average of 6 seconds, you need a successful résumé that stands out from the rest. 

With the help of DegreeQuery, the following infographic shows you how to build a successful résumé. It includes tips about what to include, what not to do and how to improve your chances of been seen as a capable, must-have employee. Scroll down to see what you need in your résumé.

A résumé the right way

It’s easy in this digital age to think that a solid résumé isn’t important; after all, your new employer is just going to check you out on Facebook or LinkedIn, so how cares, right? Wrong. A résumé can make or break an employment opportunity because most times, it’s the first thing an employer sees about you.

  • 89% of employers will not hire a candidate without a résumé
  • 1 in 5 applicants with a successful résumé get an interview
  • 6 seconds: the average time recruiters actually look at a candidate’s résumé
  • Half of all candidates flat-out lie on their résumé
  • 18% of résumés include made-up companies or lie about ones that have gone out of business

Anatomy of a successful résumé

Whether your résumé is in print or only online, there are some common threads among attention-getting and informative documents.

First thing’s first. Don’t save your résumé as something like myresume.doc. Use your name, and consider including the name of the position for which you’re applying.

Name, email address and phone number are required. Street addresses are less necessary than in past days.

If you include an objective in your résumé, make it concise. Many hiring managers find objectives or mission statements to be pretentious. So consider where you’re sending your résumé and whether it’s a traditional employer who will be expecting it.

The skills section used to be listed towards the bottom of the document. However, clever job seekers often push it to the top, since most recruiters won’t make it to the bottom of the résumé before making a decision.

When it comes to education, institution, degree and major are required in a successful résumé. Depending on your age and how long you’ve been out of college, it may not be necessary to list your year of graduation. 16 percent of degrees and institutions listed are false.

Many larger companies now use software to search for keywords, so consider how you’re phrasing your experience and tailor your wording to each individual employer. Remember that showing is better than telling. If you helped streamline an operation, put a number with it: “Reduced facilities operations cost by 10%” sounds better than “Managed facilities operations.” Consider including a hyperlinks to relevant content, such as stories about professional accomplishments. Be wary, 95 percent of recruiters verify employers and tenure.

If your résumé is digital, consider including a slideshow of your work or a video of a recent project you worked on.

References on a successful résumé are optional, but if you do include them, be sure that those listed will give you a glowing recommendation. In fact, 96 percent of organizations use some form of reference check.

Tips for digital résumés

Visit your site on a computer other than your own using several browsers. You don’t want a potential employer to have a browser error. Remember to keep vital information at the top. And always check your links; it shows you don’t sweat the small stuff. You can also post your résumé on sites relevant to your particular industry.

What not to do

Here are some typical mistakes job-seekers make. Use the tips above to avoid these pitfalls.

  • Omitting the cover letter
    Creating a cover letter specific to one job will bring you much more success than creating a blanket cover letter for any generic job posting.
  • Being ugly (the résumé that is)
    Not to say a successful résumé should be a publishable work of art. But with absolutely no colour, bold type or interesting spacing, it may be overlooked.
  • Going overboard with design
    Using fancy headlines and colours can be fun; but they often convey to your employer that you aren’t serious, or you’re trying to compensate for lack of experience or skills.
  • Not narrowing the focus
    If your résumé isn’t focused enough on the field you want to enter, your potential employer may think you’re a bit too “garden variety” for the position.
  • Making it too personal
    Your name, email address, phone number and the city you live in will suffice. A successful résumé doesn’t need your home address, birthday or pet’s name.