How to Write a Job-Winning Resume in 2023: New Data From 133,000 Real Resumes

What does it take to create a resume that will get you hired in today‘s competitive job market?

It‘s a question every job seeker asks, but the answers are constantly evolving based on the latest hiring trends, technologies, and preferences of recruiters. Fortunately, we now have some compelling new data to guide the way.

Inside the Data: How 133,000 Real Resumes Reveal Key Success Factors

Resume-building platform Zety recently analyzed 133,000 real resumes created through their platform. By looking at how these anonymized resumes performed with employers, they identified several important factors that can make or break your chances of landing an interview.

Key data points:

  • Resumes that used a two-column template had a 417% higher chance of receiving an interview callback compared to basic one-column templates.
  • Job seekers who included a detailed skills section on their resume received 59% more interviews than those who didn‘t.
  • Resumes that highlighted accomplishments with numbers and data saw a 167% boost in interviews over resumes with basic responsibilities only.
  • Candidates who tailored their resume to the specific job they applied for had a 134% higher interview rate.

These numbers tell a compelling story about what works in a modern resume. It‘s not just about the content, but how that information is presented strategically. Let‘s dive into how you can apply these insights to every section of your resume.

Hook Them Immediately With a Compelling Summary

We‘ve all heard that the average recruiter spends about six seconds scanning a resume before deciding if it belongs in the "yes" or "no" pile. So how do you earn more than a fleeting glance in that tiny window of time?

It starts with an attention-grabbing professional summary at the very top of your resume. This short paragraph is your opportunity to highlight your most relevant qualifications and accomplishments right off the bat.

Think of it like the "hook" in a news article or the trailer for a movie — you want to give the reader a tantalizing preview that leaves them wanting to know more. Except in this case, the star of the show is you.

Some key things to include in your summary:

  • Your professional title and years of experience
  • Your most impressive and relevant skills or accomplishments
  • A hint at the types of companies or roles you‘re targeting

Here‘s a real example of a summary for a marketing professional that hits all the right notes:

Digital Marketing Manager with 6+ years of experience driving growth and engagement for top e-commerce brands. Expertise in SEO, paid social, email marketing, and data analytics. Boosted organic traffic by 150% and improved email CTR by 30% for XYZ Company. Seeking a leadership role on a high-performing marketing team.

In just a few lines, this summary gives you a clear picture of who this candidate is, what they can do, and what they‘re looking for. Even if the recruiter read nothing else, they would come away with a strong impression.

Showcase Your Skills Strategically

If your professional summary is the appetizer that whets the recruiter‘s appetite, the skills section of your resume is the main course. This is where you get to lay out all your most marketable hard and soft skills.

Zety‘s analysis found that candidates who included 5-10 relevant skills on their resume received an average of 59% more interviews than those who skipped this section. But it‘s not just about dumping in every skill you can think of.

The key is to be strategic and targeted. Study the job description for clues about what skills and competencies are most important for the role, then mirror that language where you can. You want the recruiter to see you as a strong match right away.

For example, if the job description calls for someone who is "highly analytical and experienced with data visualization in Tableau," your skills list should include things like:

  • Data analysis
  • Tableau
  • Data visualization
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving

The hard skills (like Tableau) are essential to get past the keyword filters in applicant tracking systems. But the soft skills help paint a picture of your work style and unique strengths.

Aim for a mix of technical competencies and interpersonal abilities. Zety‘s team found that this balance appeals to both the algorithms and the humans evaluating your resume.

Prove Your Worth With Detailed Work Experience

Your work history is the real meat of your resume. It‘s where you get to show, not just tell, what you‘re capable of.

Zety‘s research revealed that resumes highlighting specific accomplishments saw a remarkable 167% increase in interviews over those that just listed basic duties. Employers want to see how you‘ve moved the needle in past roles.

The most effective way to do this is with detailed, data-driven bullet points under each job. Instead of saying something generic like "Responsible for managing social media accounts," try:

Grew LinkedIn followers from 0 to 15,000 and increased engagement rate by 200% through targeted content and influencer partnerships.

See the difference? The first statement could apply to anyone. But the second paints a vivid picture of the person‘s capabilities and impact.

Of course, not every bullet point needs a number. You can still convey impact with strong action verbs and tangible outcomes, like:

Developed and launched a new mobile app that garnered 50,000 downloads in the first month and 1,000+ positive reviews.

The other key element is relevance. Zety found that candidates who tailored their work experience to the job at hand had a 134% higher chance of getting an interview. So while that summer you spent scooping ice cream in high school may have been personally meaningful, it probably doesn‘t need to take up prime real estate on your data analyst resume.

Aim for 3-5 powerful bullet points for each of your most recent and relevant jobs. More distant or unrelated roles can be summarized in 1-2 bullet points or potentially left off altogether.

Optimize Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems

In today‘s digital age, your resume‘s first impression is often made on an algorithm before it ever reaches human eyes.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are software platforms that employers use to collect, filter, and rank the hundreds of resumes they receive for each open role. Zety found that a whopping 92% of hiring professionals rely on an ATS in their recruiting process.

That means if you want your resume to actually reach a hiring manager‘s desk, you need to get past the bots first. Here are some ways to optimize your resume for ATS:

  • Use relevant keywords from the job description. Identify the most important hard and soft skills in the job posting and incorporate them naturally throughout your resume. For example, if the job calls for "experience with Python," make sure "Python" shows up in your skills and work history.

  • Stick to a standard resume format. Avoid images, charts, columns, text boxes, and other fancy formatting that could trip up the ATS. Opt for a clean, simple layout with clear headings.

  • Don‘t put important information in the header or footer. Some ATS can‘t read text in these sections, so make sure your contact details are in the main body of the document.

  • Use standard section headings. Label sections with common titles like "Work Experience" and "Education" so the ATS knows how to categorize your content. Avoid creative or quirky titles.

  • Submit your resume as a .docx or PDF. These are the most universally machine-readable formats. Avoid .pages or image files.

While you want your resume to be visually appealing to humans, the machines reading it first care more about the actual content. So keep the design streamlined and focus on packing each section with relevant keywords and compelling accomplishments.

Make Your Resume Visually Appealing & Skimmable

Once your resume makes it past the ATS and into the hands of an actual recruiter, you have just a few precious seconds to wow them. That‘s where design comes in.

Zety‘s analysis found that resumes using a modern, visually appealing template scored 417% more interviews than those with a basic, text-only design. In a sea of bland, identical documents, a little bit of color and polish can make yours stand out.

Now, this doesn‘t mean you should go overboard with wacky fonts and rainbow colors. The goal is to create a clean, professional design that‘s easy on the eyes and simple to navigate. Here are some best practices:

  • Use a modern, readable font. Stick with tried-and-true options like Calibri, Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia. Avoid overly stylized or cutesy fonts.
  • Incorporate color strategically. A little pop of color in your headings or borders can liven up your resume without overwhelming it. Stick to one or two accent colors max.
  • Leverage white space. Generous margins and line spacing make your resume easier to skim. Avoid the temptation to shrink your font or cram too much onto the page.
  • Organize with clear sections and headings. Use bold, slightly larger text to delineate the main sections of your resume (summary, skills, experience, etc.). This helps guide the reader‘s eye.
  • Keep it to 1-2 pages. Unless you‘re an academic or researcher with an extensive list of publications, aim to keep your resume concise. Zety found that for most candidates, 1-2 pages is the sweet spot.

Ultimately, your goal is to create a visually appealing, easy-to-read document that showcases your most marketable skills and accomplishments. A polished design helps your content shine.

Key Takeaways & Additional Resources

Let‘s review the core strategies for creating a job-winning resume in 2023:

  1. Start strong with an impactful summary. Grab the reader‘s attention by highlighting your most relevant qualifications and career goals.

  2. Showcase your skills. Include a balanced mix of hard and soft skills, tailored to the job description.

  3. Prove your value in your work history. Use compelling, data-driven bullet points to demonstrate your impact in past roles. Focus on accomplishments over duties.

  4. Optimize for applicant tracking systems. Incorporate relevant keywords, use a standard format and section titles, and submit in a machine-readable file type.

  5. Make it visually appealing. Use a modern template with a balanced layout, readable font, and strategic pops of color. Stick to 1-2 pages.

  6. Tailor your content to each role. Take time to customize your skills and experience to align with the job requirements. Relevance is key.

By following these evidence-based best practices, you‘ll be well on your way to crafting a resume that gets noticed by hiring managers and opens doors to exciting new opportunities.

Looking for more expert guidance and resources? Check out these helpful links:

Happy job hunting! Remember, your resume is just the first step in your career journey. The real magic happens when you bring your unique skills and passion to the role every day. So don‘t be afraid to let your personality shine through on paper and in person.

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