A Resume Builder’s Bible: Tips & Tricks

It is no secret that finding a job can be a full time…well, job. Even those with valuable experience and a desire to grow have a hard time standing out from the mountains of resumes that companies receive. Luckily, we complied some insight from our Cleveland Recruiting Director Mark Owens to equip you with all the tools needed to help land that in-person interview.

Keep it clear & concise

Making a resume logical to follow and simple to read should be your top priority. “Your resume is essentially a 1-page marketing tool, NOT a biography!” says Mark. Carefully choose the most important details you want to highlight, as opposed to cramming your life story onto a page. Avoid complex layouts, limit your use of colors, stick to a natural flow of information and you are off to a good start.

Trick: When thinking about the layout of your resume, keep the blank white spaces to a minimum. Dead space on a resume can come off as unimpressive to a reader. You can combat dead space by avoiding short bullet points and descriptions. It is also important to be thoughtful in choosing margins for your resume.

Make your resume stand out with a brief tagline

During peak hiring seasons recruiters are often buried in their work, making it difficult to sift through the details of each individual resume. “You want to grab the attention of the recruiter and give them a reason to keep reading” says Mark.

To do this, construct a 1 to 3 sentence tagline that highlights who you are and what you are looking for. When you have created one you like, place it at the top of your resume right under your name. Now a hiring manager doesn’t have to search through your past experiences and try to guess your intentions!

For example, if you were looking to apply to Skylight’s summer internship program, your tagline might be: “Enthusiastic finance student with sales experience in pursuit of growth-oriented career opportunities.”

Showcase your extracurriculars

Ironically, your resume doesn’t have to be all business. In Mark’s opinion, “adding relevant extracurriculars to your resume will give potential employers a more well-rounded understanding of who you are.”

Showcasing certain activities can demonstrate important passions and skills to a recruiter. Being a captain on your club hockey team tells a recruiter that you can lead. Volunteering at your local soup kitchen tells a recruiter you’re sympathetic and supportive. Joining your school’s improv group tells a recruiter you can think creatively and speak in front of crowds. Any one of these possible activities would make an excellent addition to your resume.

Adding these activities to your resume is also great chance to emotionally connect with a recruiter or hiring manager. Your chances of getting a callback can potentially skyrocket if you share a common interest with them!

Proofread, proofread, and proofread

Nothing gets chucked into the “NO” pile quicker than a resume with spelling and grammar errors, so be sure to use spellcheck! Having a friend or a professor read over your resume is also a great way to catch mistakes.

Trick: Try reading your entire resume backwards—this is a mental hack that forces you to read each word individually, instead of skimming through sentences while reading it in your head.

Be wary of “resume myths”

“Resume myths” are certain items you may have heard need to be on a resume, but the truth is they only take up space you could be using to impress the reader.

Common resume myths include:

  • Lists of references
  • Individual courses taken in college
  • GPA scores

If a recruiter does need these items they will let you know but hold off on displaying them front and center.

Choose powerful wording but avoid buzz words!

The best resumes will undergo a meticulous word choice process. Powerful wording when done correctly can describe past experiences in a captivating way. Buzz words, on the other hand, are so overused that they hardly grab a recruiter’s interest at all. Avoid resume clichés like “problem-solver”, “team-player”, or our personal favorite, “hard worker.”

Trick: Go through your current resume and find words that could be more attractive. For example…

  • Instead of Worked on, use Developed
  • Instead of Leading, use Spearheading
  • Instead of Fixed, use Resolved


(Last but certainly not least…) Your resume means NOTHING unless you’re properly networking!  

We cannot stress this enough; networking is the most important tool to utilize in the job hunt. “This is where LinkedIn becomes vital to getting the job” says Mark. “Find out who you know on LinkedIn that works for the same company you are applying to. Alumni, friends, neighbors—a great connection could come from anywhere.”

Having no luck finding a connection to the company? Broaden your search! Reaching out to people you know that work in the same industry you are interested in is a great place to start. “You never know—grabbing a cup of coffee with someone might land you your next interview!” says Mark.

Thanks for speaking with us, Mark!

Interested in a rewarding career in financial services? Skylight Financial Group may be coming to a college campus near you! Check out the full list of 2019 career fairs we are attending here.