I reviewed 587 resumes in 49 hours to help people impacted by the pandemic. Here are my best tips on how to build a resume that stands out — along with the best examples.

  • Eugene Hayden, who's worked at Google, KPMG, and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), organized the resume marathon and reviewed 587 resumes in 49 hours help people in his network impacted by COVID-19.
  • He recommends following these five rules to significantly increase your chances of landing your dream job.
  • Your resume should always start with your contact information and brief summary about yourself, Hayden says. It's the first thing recruiters see, so make sure it's simple and straight to the point. 
  • Next, in the "Professional Experience" section, highlight your achievements and technical skills using active verbs.
  • If applicable, you can share more about your personal achievements in separate "Leadership Experience" or "Volunteer Experience" sections. 
  • Hayden also provides four examples of resumes from people with varying years of experience, from new grads to professionals with seven or more years of experience. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

During the past 10 years, I've created more than 480 versions of my resume for tech and management consulting companies. I've learned many lessons and some of these ideas helped me get offers from Google, KPMG, and Boston Consulting Group.

This month, I organized a resume marathon to help people impacted by the pandemic. The idea came to my mind when I asked myself: How can I help young professionals and students in my network? What will be my direct and positive impact on someone's life?

I posted the following message on LinkedIn: "Hey everyone, I want to do something amazing! I will review your resume and provide feedback for free. This offer is limited, please submit your resume via Google Forms within 24 hours and I will review them soon as I can."

Twenty-four hours later, I got 587 resumes.

People from all over the United States, Canada, and 30+ other countries reached out to me, with different backgrounds ranging from 0 to 28 years of experience, but all dreaming about the same thing – a better career.

My average work week is usually 40-50 hours. In addition to my full-time job, I'm working on my master's degree in engineering at University of Toronto. So, I briefly calculated that I'd at least 5 minutes to review each resume and share my feedback. For 587 resumes that totals at least 49 hours of productive time, and the only way to fit this amount of time into my agenda was to cancel all my side activities on weekends. This is how my resume marathon began.

After the first 100 resumes, people started sharing positive and messages:

"I really appreciate you taking your time and reviewing my resume. It means a lot to me since nobody does this for free. It's a great initiative that you have started during these tough times as everyone cannot have access to such paid services offered by others"

"Really appreciate the fact that Eugene went deep to the feedback on my resume. His feedback makes sense. I have had ideas on some things I wanted to improve on, and he gave solid advice on how to do that. I like the fact that Eugene was nit-picky too with the use of some of my action verbs and to make it clearer and have more impact. Also, the insight on strategizing to better use percentages over simple numbers to give better context on growth."

"I think it was a quite useful feedback, especially for applying to big companies or for jobs where recruiters get a lot of applicants. Thanks again for the suggestions, I will definitely take them into account!"

My typical resume review included three parts:

    1. A 20-second look at the resume (this is an amount of time that recruiters usually spend on each one)
    2. A list of issues and inconsistencies that could be improved
    3. Suggestions on how to further improve the resume with examples and templates

    And so, after 49 hours of reviewing resumes (and countless years of fixing my own), here are my 5 rules and recommendations on how to make your resume stand out.

    1. Start with your contact details

    We underestimate this part of the resume, but this is what recruiters see first.

    Make it simple and straight to the point – add your phone number, email, LinkedIn, and location.

    Don' use your full address or postal codes, show only city and state (or country, if applicable).

    Don't use any images or icons, it's obvious that a number (000) 000-0000 is your cell phone and name@gmail is your email.

    Example:

    Line one — Full Name

    Line two — A targeted role or domain of your expertise

    Line three — Contact details (phone, email, one to two hyperlinks, location)

    2. Write a brief summary statement.

    Introduce yourself and tell me about your passion in three lines, no more. Here's an example:

    After the summary statement, you should continue with your Professional Experience, not Skills. Put your Education on top for internships, otherwise move your education to the bottom.

    3. Use active verbs describing achievements, not processes

    Use these verbs: managed, led, spearheaded, cofounded, developed, created, implemented, etc. instead of passive verbs like monitored, analyzed, assisted, helped, etc.

    Make your achievements measurable by using absolute values, percentages, dollars, and any other quantifiable information. Use these words to quantify your impact.

    4. Integrate your tech skills into your experience (see my Business Insider article on how to do it)

    Show only advanced skills and tools. Here's an example:

    5. Add "Leadership Experience" or "Volunteer Experience" (if applicable)

    Share more personal achievements, not titles or responsibilities.

    If you need extra space, reduce the number of bullet points, but don't use another page if you have less than 50% of the text on it.

    Your resume should fit one page if you have less than 7-10 years of experience.

    My rule of thumb: add one extra page for each seven to 10 years of experience. One applicant shared with me an 8-page resume, and this is not what recruiters and hiring managers want to see.

    Be considerate of the 20-second rule and their time. Recruiters are busy and, if you help them to review and understand your resume faster, you'll . Here's an example:

    Here are more examples of good resumes:

    1. For MBA students

    2. For undergraduate and graduate students with < 3 years of experience

    3. For professionals (3-7 years of experience)

    4. For professionals (7+ years of experience)

    Overall, it was really eye-opening to see that 85% of resumes had the same type of mistakes, such as incorrect header formatting, missing contact details, and no summary statement.

    I'm happy to have  spent my free time helping people fix their resumes and hopefully land their dream jobs. In my mind, the hours spent was a worthwhile gamble and it paid off. If you also found my advice useful, feel free to follow me on LinkedIn.

    Eugene Hayden previously worked as an industry manager at Google, senior consultant at KPMG, and researcher at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). 

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