As surely as millennials love avocado toast (eye roll), resumes remain one of your most crucial tools on the job hunt.
They’re often your first line of defense when applying to a job, and they have the potential to land you an interview — or get your application materials discarded to the virtual trash.
That’s a big job for a one-page summary of your skills and experiences. But by following these resume tips, you can ensure your resume is up for the task.
19 resume tips for landing a remote job
If you’re polishing up your old resume or creating a new one from scratch, follow these 19 resume writing tips to impress a hiring manager.
1. Make it pretty (and skimmable)
Hiring managers look at hundreds of resumes, so you want yours to have an eye-catching design and be easy to read. Stick with a clean but attractive format that’s easily skimmable. Instead of cramming in tons of tiny text, for instance, strip down your words to the essentials.
Design elements such as headings and bullet points can call a hiring manager’s attention to certain key points while allowing them to quickly learn who you are as a candidate.
By the way, classic resume tips say to stick to one page. This is still a good rule of thumb to follow, unless you have a particularly long list of achievements and certifications. Rather than spilling over onto a second page, try to encapsulate all the essentials on a single piece of paper.
2. Check out samples in your industry
Before you get started, it could be helpful to look at sample resumes from job seekers in your industry. Seeing what others have done could spark ideas for your own resume, as well as give you a sense of the best language to use when applying to a position.
Monster offers a bunch of resume samples by industry, and you can find others at Zety, Resume Genius, or Resume.com. You might also check out people’s profiles on LinkedIn to see what language they use.
3. Reconsider including your address
Traditionally, people put their name, address, and contact information at the top of their resume. But if you’re a digital nomad, you might not have a permanent address to include. And if you’re living halfway across the world, you might be concerned your address could be a turn-off to an employer based in the U.S.
Fortunately, you don’t have to include your address on your resume, especially if you think it could adversely affect your chances of getting an interview. Simply include your contact information, such as your email, phone number, Skype handle, Zoom account, or any other details that could show the hiring manager you’re easily accessible, no matter where you’re located.
4. Put the most relevant information at the top
You know how clothing stores put their best outfits in the window, or farmers line up their prettiest fruits and vegetables at the front of the table? (Or as I recently learned, restaurants seat their most attractive customers at the front tables? True story.)
While the latter practice is somewhat disturbing, showcasing your most impressive skills and experiences on the top half of your resume could be a good sales tactic. Remember, some hiring managers only glance at resumes for a few seconds before deciding whether or not you get an interview.
So present your best self right at the beginning to impress your reader.
5. Lead with a summary of accomplishments
Back in the day, one of the most common resume writing tips was to include your objective, or career goal, at the top of your resume. But today’s resume tips suggest a summary of accomplishments instead.
This summary could be a bullet-pointed list of your qualifications and competencies, and it should include both hard and soft skills. Rather than including everything, pick a few that are most relevant to the job at hand.
6. Include the job title and company in your summary
Along with showcasing your relevant hard and soft skills, you might also name the job and company in the summary of skills section.
For example, you could say something like — “As a creative, self-directed graphic designer with skills in Quark, InDesign, and Adobe, I’m eager to leverage my experiences in the role of Lead Designer with Sample Company.”
Use your best judgment on whether naming the job title and company could work in this section. If it reads smoothly, it could be one more way to show you’ve customized your materials to the target job.
7. Leave out your date of graduation if you don’t want to share your age
It’s a sad reality that hiring discrimination exists even at the resume review stage. According to Harvard Business School, people of color who left references to race off their resume got twice as many call-backs as people who chose not to “whiten” their resumes.
Age could also be a factor in whether or not you get a call-back, perhaps especially if you’re working in a relatively new field like app development or UX design. If you’re concerned that your year of graduation could harm your chances, feel free to leave it off.
8. Put experience before education, unless you’re a recent grad
Unless you’re a recent grad without a ton of work experience (or perhaps going after a job in academia), you probably don’t want to put your education before your work experience.
After several years in the workforce, bring your most relevant job history to the forefront instead.
Although your studies as a philosophy, literature, or astronomy major are interesting, most employers are probably more eager to learn about your work experience.
9. Highlight your accomplishments in each role
Now we’ve gotten to the meat of your resume. Under each job, you should include a few descriptive bullet points. But rather than describing your responsibilities, highlight your accomplishments in each role.
The hiring manager wants to know what you brought to each role, rather than what the role demanded of you. So think of achievements you’re proud of, times you took initiative, or other ways you contributed in the position.
10. Use action verbs, but avoid overused buzzwords and cliches
Another good practice when writing up your resume is to use action verbs to describe your accomplishments. Here are just a few examples of action verbs that pack a punch:
- Advocated for
You get the idea. In addition to using action verbs, you might also quantify your achievements whenever possible. Instead of “achieved sales goals,” for example, you could write “Recruited 75 new clients last fall, surpassing the quarterly goal of 50.”
At the same time, avoid over-used buzzwords and industry jargon. Describing yourself as a “hard worker” and “team player” who embraces “synergy” might get an eye roll from a hiring manager. If your descriptions are starting to sound cliche, try to come up with new words to freshen them up.
Language has power, so choose your words carefully when crafting your resume.
11. Consider adding links to your professional website or portfolio
Building a professional website or portfolio could give you a serious leg up on the competition. You can show projects you’ve worked on, articles you’ve written, or even testimonials from past employers, colleagues, or clients.
And if you’re sending your resume as a PDF, you could link up your website in the text of your resume.
This extra step could be especially helpful when going after a remote job, especially if you’re a programmer, writer, or other creative professional engaged in online work.
12. Don’t be afraid to name drop
No one wants to come off as braggy, but your resume isn’t a place to be self-deprecating, either. If you worked with an industry leader (e.g., did programming work for Google), say so.
Having worked with a popular company or client will pop out and show you’re at the top of your game.
13. Include key phrases and words from the target job description
Gone are the days when your resume went directly to a hiring manager. Now, many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter out resumes before they get in front of human eyes.
ATS programs look for key words and phrases from the job description, as well as core competencies the company is looking for, such as expertise in Adobe Photoshop or “3 years of management experience.”
Read over the job description carefully, and incorporate some of the language it uses in your resume. That way, you’ll get past the initial ATS scan and a real-live person will see your application.
14. Exclude short-term jobs, unless they’re all you have
Unless you’re a recent graduate, you probably want to leave out short-term work experiences that lasted only a few months.
Although job-hopping isn’t uncommon these days (in fact, it can lead to a much higher salary than staying at the same company for decades), most hiring managers don’t want someone who might jump ship in a few months.
Plus, short-term experiences might be insufficient as a true reflection of your performance as an employee. So if you have long-term positions, feature those instead.
Of course, if these short-term jobs are all you have, it’s better to include them than not. If you’re a freelancer, you might also include gigs and one-off projects (while linking to a portfolio of work, if possible).
15. Leave out the “references upon request” line
Some sample resumes end with a line about “references available upon request.” Although you should have references on call (and maybe some testimonials on LinkedIn), you don’t need to say so on your resume.
For many jobs, it’s assumed that you have references, so adding this line to your resume is an unnecessary statement of the obvious.
16. Show your personality in a special interests section
After you’ve presented all your awesome skills and work experiences, you might add a “personal interests” section at the bottom. By including a few hobbies, you can show your personality and give a sense of what you do outside of work hours.
You might even uncover a shared interest with the hiring manager; maybe they’re also into skiing, triathlons, cake decorating, or whatever you love doing. That said, some company cultures are more conservative, and it might not be the right move to share your passion for brewing craft beer.
Read up on the company a bit, and use your best judgment about whether it’d be worthwhile to include a personal interest section on your resume or not.
17. Triple check you don’t have any typos
You definitely want to avoid that sinking feeling of sending off your resume only to find a typo afterward (especially if you’d described yourself as detail-oriented).
Before hitting send, read over your resume several times to ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. If you need a pair of fresh eyes, enlist a friend or family member to take a look, too.
18. Customize your resume for each job
You’ve got your resume looking flawless, but your work isn’t totally done. Instead of sending off the same resume to everyone, it could be worthwhile to customize your resume to each job.
That doesn’t mean you have to make major changes, especially if you’re applying to the same types of jobs. But you might include some key words and phrases from the job description. Plus, you can name the job title or company in your summary of accomplishments.
Taking the extra step to customize your resume could show how committed you are to getting that particular job.
19. Don’t send off your resume without a cover letter
While your resume is an important part of your job application, it will get lonely without the accompaniment of a well-crafted cover letter. Your resume highlights your major accomplishments, but your cover letter is a chance to show your voice and advocate for yourself as a candidate.
Like with your resume, you want to customize your cover letter for each and every job you apply for. Once you’ve finished crafting your fabulous resume, make sure to put that same level of attention into writing an impressive cover letter.
Use these resume writing tips to land your dream remote job
Although writing a resume might not be the most fun way to spend a Saturday, crafting a strong resume could be well worth the effort. Once you have your materials ready, you’ll probably only have to make small changes to customize them to each job.
Outside of preparing your resume and cover letter, use the power of networking to boost your chances of getting hired, too. Networking remains one of the most powerful ways to get hired, as many companies prioritize candidates who have been referred by existing employees.
So reach out to your network, attend conferences, connect with people on LinkedIn, and pursue any other steps to connect with other professionals. By taking a multi-pronged approach (ugh, there’s that industry jargon I warned against), you’ll be well on your way to getting hired for your next great gig.
Ready to start applying? Here are 17 of the best websites to find a 100% remote job.