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6 Steps to a Great Resume

Bonny Calfy | April 14, 2015

Whether you are about to graduate college, or you are looking for a new career, people are always applying for positions in hopes of landing their dream job … or at least one they enjoy that will build their skill set for the dream job. The first step in accomplishing this task is orchestrating a great first impression – in other words, your resume.

Many hiring managers view handfuls of resumes per day, so you want to ensure that yours sticks out among the crowd and catches their attention from the start.

Here are six areas to keep in mind when drafting yours.

1. Length

As a soon-to-be or recent college graduate, more than likely your work experience should not exceed one page in length. Two pages or more are mostly for senior executives or someone with a tremendous amount of academic/work history. Chances are the hiring manager is filtering through hundreds of resumes, so keep yours short and to the point.

2. Awards and Activities

If you are one of those people who likes to brag about all of the activities you have participated in or all of the awards you have received, this is the place to do it. Add any community service, academic honors or groups you participate in here; employers understand that if you’re new to the workforce you may not have a lot of work experience, so this section is relevant, especially if the job you are applying for has a GPA requirement. However, do not add things such as, “I was high school prom queen in 2004.” Yes, it has been done.

3. Spelling

This may seem silly as a tip or seem like common sense, but you would be surprised at how many resumes are submitted with misspelled words. Virtually every word-processing program has a spell-check feature, so utilize it. Also, have someone else proofread your resume before you submit it. Typos happen, but when a hiring manager catches a misspelled word, chances are that resume is being tossed to the side because it shows a lack of attention to detail. If someone does not want to take the time to look over their work when trying to get a job, what makes the hiring manager think that this person will be dedicated to reviewing their work if employed?

4. Action Words

The words you choose to explain your profile and experience are among the most important parts of a resume. To catch the hiring manager’s attention, use active words such as “developed,” “orchestrated” and “transformed,” versus passive words like “had” and “did.” According to, recruiters spend 6.25 seconds looking at a resume, so it is imperative you choose words that will stand out in that brief amount of time. Even if you are a good fit for the position, if nothing stands out, your resume will blend in with the pile.

5. Quantify and Qualify

Adding numbers to your resume can be a differentiating factor, even if you work in a position where you don’t actually deal with numbers. You want to make your resume quantifiable. For example, rather than saying, “Responsible for lead generation,” try, “Averaged 5 appointments per every 40 calls, making a minimum of 125 calls per day.” This shows that you were dedicated to your position rather than just doing what was expected of you. Numbers talk.

6. Truth

Last but not least, do not lie. It’s as simple as that. You don’t want the manager’s first impression of you to be negative. If you do not have the experience yet, apply elsewhere to gain experience, then apply for the position you originally wanted.

So, even though preparing a resume can seem like a daunting task, just take a deep breath and let the tips above assist you in getting closer to landing your perfect job. It’s just one exceptional first impression away.

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s employer brand supervisor, Bonny Calfy oversees all recruitment marketing and employer brand efforts nationwide. Her brand awareness efforts extend over 10 years and have included launching the Paycom Careers blog and social media channels and producing recruitment videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside work, Bonny enjoys reading; fishing; and spending time with her husband, children and friends.