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Experience is only part of the many factors that will help you land your dream job. Your resume needs to reflect both the quantity of your work and the quality. 

Having a good resume can be the deciding factor between getting a phone interview or never hearing back. Even with the rise of LinkedIn and job search aggregators, a great resume is still the backbone of your job search. 

Put your best foot forward with a clear, concise overview of your background and experience – hiring managers will notice. So, how do you become your own publicist?

Keep it short

There should be nothing long-winded on your resume. The essentials should be there, with specific, to the point statements about your responsibilities. Treat it as a baseball card with metrics. Only put your top accomplishments, the ones that truly paint a picture of your success. Do not put on day-to-day details. Nobody needs to read that you “made calls” – you should be using that space for your inbound quota numbers instead.

Focus on tasks that particularly prepared you for the job you want. Even if the job is in a slightly different industry, a hiring manager should be able to recognize how your past experience prepared you. Essentially, a resume gives an impression of who you are, why you’re qualified and what to expect from you as an employee. Include 1-2 lines at the bottom of the page to list your activities, volunteer work and interests. I jump there when I’m reading resumes to get a sense of who someone is, beyond their work experience.

Make it clear

Do a quick test on your resume before sending it out. Give your resume to a friend or family member and ask if they can describe what you did in each position, just from reading what’s on the page. If you’ve used too many broad terms, highly specific jargon or tried to make your work sound more important than it was, your resume will be hard to read. Hard to read resumes aren’t looked at seriously – with hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants you should make it easy for the hiring manager to quickly see what you did, when and where.

Clearly put the company’s name and the dates you worked there. These should stand out from your other text (but don’t get too creative with the format, see: readability!). If your company changed names, or if you held different positions within the same company, make it clear that your work was all at one place. Employers want to hire people who have stayed loyal to their employers, and haven’t jumped from job to job. Show hiring managers that you’re committed. Employers make an investment when they hire you; they spend resources on your training and ramping up.

Show progress

An attractive resume shows a successful, stable career. Working at a company for less than a year looks flighty. If you’ve had multiple positions for less than a year, you’ll want to start thinking seriously about your goals. Recommit to where you want to be in five years. Think about the experience you’ll need to get there. Once you’re in a role getting that experience, do whatever it takes to stay in that position. If it’s not perfect, find ways to make it bearable, being mindful of how a short-term stay will look on your resume.

Besides consistently working towards a goal, you should show that you’ve been successful in your current job. If you work in sales, put your quota attainment percentages on your resume. Add logos of top clients you brought on if you’re in business development. Over-embellishing your responsibilities isn’t a good idea. That said, there’s no place for being shy on your resume – if you crushed it, show it!

Carolyn Betts is founder and CEO of Betts Recruiting. 

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