20 Coaches Share Key Résumé Writing Tips For Today’s Job Seekers


 Quantifying accomplishments shows hiring managers that you are results-oriented and can make a positive impact. So, be specific and honest, and don’t exaggerate or dismiss your achievements.

Forbes Expert Panel · Sep 19, 2023

Résumé writing has become a dynamic field where trends shift and evolve with each passing year. Staying ahead of the curve can mean the difference between landing your dream job or languishing in a sea of overlooked applicants. From new aspects of experience being included to the latest formats gaining traction in specific industries, it’s vital to understand current trends in résumé writing as you pursue your next role.

Equally vital is avoiding big “don’ts” that can relegate your résumé to the rejection pile. Here, 20 Forbes Coaches Council members provide actionable advice on how job seekers can use the latest trends to their advantage while sidestepping common pitfalls as they revamp their résumés.

1. Keep The Format And Layout Simple

The simpler the format and layout, the better—even if you’re applying for a creative job. The best path to success with an online job search is a simple résumé that is actionable and results-driven. You can always put a link to your portfolio, website, GitHub profile or creative résumé next to your contact info. - Franklin BuchananPost Up Careers

2. Remember That Human Skills Matter

In 2023, human skills matter. Even those hiring for technical roles often look for complementary skills such as partnering, critical thinking, social intelligence, communication, vision and influence. It’s not enough to list these; powerful résumés demonstrate these skills. Use success stories with metrics to enable hirers to see your technical and human skills in action and the impact these skills delivered for past organizations. - Gillian KellyOutplacement Australia

3. Avoid Jumping Onto The ChatGPT Bandwagon

I am shocked at how many people have jumped onto the ChatGPT bandwagon with regard to professional assets (résumés, CVs, LinkedIn content and so on). I have seen the resulting content, and while the verbiage appears decent, these documents are routinely missing impact points, key contextual details and demonstrated value. Perhaps the technology will improve, but for now, jump off the bandwagon! - Emily Kapit, MS, MRW, ACRW, CPRWReFresh Your Step, LLC

4. Have A Strategic Message; Utilize The STAR Format

Have a strategic message for the résumé, and use the STAR (situation, task, action, results) format. For example, instead of writing, “Responsible for managing social media accounts and increasing engagement,” rewrite the sentence as, “Successfully increased social media engagement by 40% within six months, driving more traffic to the company’s website and improving brand visibility.” - Shruti ParasharGOALisB

5. Place A Summary Of Qualifications At The Top

I recommend placing a summary of qualifications at the top. This summary can be just short sentences that directly address the requirements of the position that you are applying to. If the job asks for someone who can “perform A, B and C,” then the summary should include “qualified in A, B and C.” This tells the reviewer that the applicant is specifically directing his application to this job. - David J. SmithDavid J. Smith Consulting, LLC

6. Highlight How You Utilize AI For Efficiency

Include how you use artificial intelligence or machine learning in your profession (marketing, finance, technology) to create labor and process efficiencies while improving the end result. - Lisa RangelChameleon Resumes LLC

7. Brand Yourself With More Specific Headers

A résumé needs to tell a story, and every good story starts with a good title. Instead of using a generic header such as “Experience” or “Work History,” brand yourself with a more specific header as your story begins, such as “Tax Law Advocate and Advisor,” “Litigation Specialist,” or “Legal and Managerial Background.” That way, the reader can follow along and be impressed with your career from the top. - Kathy MorrisUnder Advisement, Ltd.

8. Use AI As A Writing Tool, Not A Solution

Leveraging AI to write a résumé can diminish your chances of getting an interview. While this can save time, it removes the most important part of a résumé: uniqueness. AI delivers a generic list of responsibilities without the right prompts and input. Use AI as a baseline tool, not your solution for writing a final résumé. Focus the content on quantifiable achievements, not responsibilities. - Don Pippinarea|Talent

9. Quantify Your Accomplishments

One trend is to quantify accomplishments using numbers, percentages or time frames, such as “increased sales by 15% in the past year,” “managed a team of 10 people,” or “launched a product in six months.” Quantifying accomplishments shows hiring managers that you are results-oriented and can make a positive impact. So, be specific and honest, and don’t exaggerate or dismiss your achievements. - Inely CesnaInstitute For Next Level Leadership

10. Articulate How And Why You Achieved Results

Generally, nurses and healthcare professionals rarely speak about their accomplishments in patient care and service improvement, and this shows up in their résumé and CV writing. Articulate what you did, why you did it, how you did it and the result for your patients, team and organization. It will serve you well in putting your best foot forward for that role. - Beaulah M. ChizimbaLimitless Nurses

11. Mention Your Most Recent Accomplishments First

Try to mention your accomplishments at the top, and even if you can not quantify them, use language that helps the reader understand what your specific role was in achieving them. Start with the recent ones first whenever possible. - Manzar BashirPotential Mapping

12. Align Your CV With The Company’s Values And Mission

Don’t apply for a job—apply to the company. Thus, your must-have feature will explain why you are the best candidate for the company’s team from both a short- and a long-term perspective. Avoid cookie-cutter approaches to CV creation and instead align your CV with the company’s values and mission. Read the company’s news, pinpoint its most recent successes and challenges, and address them in your CV. - Alla AdamAlla Adam Coaching

13. Sell Yourself As A Unique Product

When creating a résumé or CV, it’s critical to remember that you are selling a unique product: yourself. That’s about more than listing your skills and responsibilities. When you focus on what makes you shine at what you do—how you might be better, faster, less costly or more profitable—you demonstrate the ROI you bring and will stand out from other equally qualified candidates. - Laura DeCarloCareer Directors International

14. Know The Trends In Your Industry

Know your industry and what the trends are in that industry—for example, creative industries have different requirements than finance, and legal work has different requirements than digital technology. Some are more old-school, whereas others are more dynamic and attuned to new technologies and formats. In all cases, tailor your CV and showcase the impact and value you have added by making it specific to the roles you are applying for. - Anita O’Connor-RobertsAOC Consulting

15. Emulate The Profiles Of Those Who Hold Similar Jobs

I always advise candidates to look through LinkedIn to find people who hold jobs similar to the ones they are seeking. Review their profiles and make sure that your résumé (and LinkedIn profile) have similar keywords and language. Also, always talk about your accomplishments and not just your responsibilities. You don’t want your résumé to read like a job description. - Kathy BernhardKFB Leadership Solutions

16. Don’t Bury The Lede On Your Capabilities

Don’t bury the lede on your capabilities and accomplishments. Recruiters are limited in time and see hundreds, if not thousands, of résumés for every open role. They skim résumés quickly, so help them see your superpowers quickly. Use the top half of the first page to summarize your capabilities, competencies and experiences. For each role, focus on the outcomes of all the work you put into the role. - Kristy BusijaNext Conversation Coaching, LLC

17. Avoid Using A Generic Résumé For Multiple Applications

Avoid the mistake of using a generic résumé for multiple job applications, as it may not effectively highlight your qualifications and may appear less appealing to recruiters. Job seekers should carefully analyze the job description and incorporate relevant keywords and skills into their résumés to showcase their suitability for the position. - Anna Yusim, MDYusim Psychiatry, Consulting & Executive Coaching

18. Don’t Mistake ‘Accomplishments’ For ‘Impact’

The biggest mistake I see made on résumés is mistaking “accomplishments” for “impact.” It’s not enough to list what you did at past jobs—the key is to articulate why it mattered and how it moved the organization forward. - Randi BraunSomething Major

19. Use A Modern Résumé Format

Format matters, and so does leadership! The old, linear résumé format that runs top to bottom is passé and won’t stand out. Use a résumé format that highlights your focus and skills, emphasizing leadership strengths (the “soft” stuff!) on the left or right in a narrow column, then put work experience, certifications and education into a clean, summarized format in the larger space that remains. - Jennifer WilsonConvergenceCoaching, LLC

20. Make A Business Case For Hiring You

Make a business case for why you should be hired. When people give me a résumé, it’s tantamount to saying, “Here’s what I’ve done for other people. Go figure out if any of this is relevant to you.” When people make a business case, it says, “Here’s why you should hire me, and here’s what I’m going to do for you.” - Mark Garrett HayesSalesCoachr