What's a good resume?

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What's a good resume?

I live, work, and recruit in the US: I read résumés for a living. This answer proceeds accordingly.

A good résumé is one that lays out a strong argument for why the job seeker is an excellent match for a specific position.

This typically involves (in order of importance):

Relevant work experience. This is by far the most important thing on a résumé. It is what every recruiter and hiring manager will skip to first: have you done this work before? And perhaps more importantly, good bullets that describe your noteworthy achievements in doing the job. Nobody wants to waste their time reading bullets that list job responsibilities. Everyone remotely qualified had the responsibilities. What people care about, and what will make people call/email/text for an interview is accomplishments.

Formal education. Less relevant than it once was due to the evolving move towards skill-based hiring, a formal education connected with the position is still seen as important by some decision-makers. This isn’t the case for most fields, but in IT particularly, a bias towards relevant formal education remains of interest.

Certifications/training. Although collectively far from a difference-maker. certain certifications are well-regarded. For example: in cybersecurity, the CISSP certification is among the most challenging to earn, and thus its holders are accorded a certain amount of preference. But this isn’t true of most certifications, especially if not supported by either the work experience or formal education.

That’s what makes a good résumé.

It’s what will make an employer call, email, or text you. That’s what your résumé’s job is. If it isn’t doing that, look again at the three bullets above and see if there’s a way to improve it accordingly.

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