How to Craft a Rockstar Resume

How do you land an interview for your dream job? Build a rockstar resume.

Choose a Format That Enhances Your Message.

A simple, but well-styled resume in an easy-to-read and modern format is all you need. Introduce your personal brand with callouts, graphics and color scheme. If you are applying for a job in a creative field, it is especially important to let your personality shine alongside your qualifications.

Your resume is a quick overview of who you are and what you offer. Unless otherwise specified, keep your resume short (ideally 1-3 pages) This might get in the way of using certain formats but very manageable if you keep it clear and concise.

Keep a plain text copy of your resume on hand for online submission portals. Many bots struggle with stylized submissions and your resume can be overlooked if the program does not extract enough information. Bots also look for relevant keywords, so be sure to customize your resume to each job description. A Microsoft Word document is easily read by most programs and will ensure important information makes its way to real people.

What Information Should You Include?

Depending on why you are submitting a resume, your contents may change. Traditionally, you should include the following:

  • Professional Summary.
  • Professional Experience.
  • Skills/Expertise.
  • Certifications.
  • Education.

Think of your professional summary as your 30 second elevator pitch – describe your key experience and skills relevant to a specific position.  Without getting into details, demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the position and what you will bring to the table.

Your professional experience must be concise and relevant. Your 1991 paper route probably doesn’t have much to do with a 2021 project management career. If your career spans decades, update your resume to include the past ten years, only going back further if entirely necessary, such as denoting long breaks or major career changes.

Including a detailed skills and expertise section may be necessary when applying for a highly specialized field. Programmers and translators should include mastered languages while developers and graphic designers should include software expertise. Regardless, include your soft skills such as “detailed-oriented” or “excellent at managing teams.”

List your most relevant and recent degrees and certifications, including the institution. Only include the year completed if you’re a recent graduate.  

 Clean It Up.

No matter how qualified you are or how eye-catching your resume is, nothing will dissuade a potential employer quicker than sloppy copy.

Rules of thumb for easy-to-read writing:

  • Use short sentences or bullets (no more than 3-6 per role).
  • List accomplishments rather than responsibilities.
  • Avoid acronyms and jargon.
  • Use active voice and the same verb tense.
  • Stick to an eighth-grade reading level.

Go through your resume with a fine-tooth comb and check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and usage errors. Even better, have someone you trust take a look at your resume. We often become blind to errors in our own writing, so having another set of eyes review it will help catch errors that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Finally, save your resume as a PDF to preserve your carefully crafted layout and examine it closely for any formatting changes. Retain a MS Word copy for editing purposes, but always email potential employers a PDF version of your resume to limit formatting errors.

Key Takeaways.

Keep your information readable and relevant to the employer and role. Applying for a writing gig but stating your objective is to become a veterinarian may give the hiring company pause. Listing relevant experience, skills, certifications, and education will demonstrate your ability to perform well at the prospective job.


Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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