Winning Résumé: 3 Key Areas of Focus

Get unstuck and stop feeling overwhelmed. Follow these 3 tips to create a winning résumé and land job interviews!

Is one of your priorities this spring to update your résumé and land a new job or promotion? Are you ready to refresh your résumé, but unsure where/how to start?

If you are sending your résumé out and not getting invitations to interview –


Don’t feel alone. Many professionals are in the same boat – and it seems everyone has an opinion on what to include and leave out of a résumé. But I’m dwindling my suggestions down to three areas to provide immediate impact!


  1. ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems)

Clients often ask, “Can you make sure my résumé works for ATS?” My answer, of course, is a resounding yes! But let’s be honest for a minute… Is ATS just another acronym we pretend to understand? Do you know what you are asking for when you ask if your résumé is ATS applicable? What is ATS?

First a disclaimer. For those of you reading this working in HR, I know you are all too familiar with the various ATS systems and how they work. For the rest of us, that’s right — there is more than one ATS program. ATS stands for Applicant Tracking Software. It is an automated way to create a candidate profile and rank candidates for fit. If the résumé cannot be fully read due to format, the profile will be marked incomplete and will not move forward in the screening process. ATS will also rank each candidate based on keywords and use of those words within the résumé. 

Let’s start with how to ensure your résumé is compatible with ATS. First, make sure you provide your résumé in Microsoft Word format. ATS cannot scan pdf format. Second, utilizing tables, charts and fancy bullets may look appealing (not in this résumé writer’s opinion, unless you are applying for a graphic design position or if you’re C-level and providing separate and supplemental charts), but ATS systems cannot scan them. What’s worse, any information inside the tables or charts will be erased. In short, no-one will ever see those wonderful accomplishments that you tried to emphasize. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a great résumé format. Stick with nice, clean lines and the standard bullet points. Let the writing/content do the work for you.

Next, let’s move on to the keywords. ATS scans a résumé for keywords that match the job description, standard duties and industry, and then ranks the candidate for compatibility. It is essential to have the current keywords. For example, client relationship management is used, but your résumé says customer management, you will miss out even though the terms are interchangeable. At the same time, don’t fill your résumé with keywords and then forget to back up your proficiency with concrete details and strong verbiage supporting the keywords you used. The bottom line: do your research before applying to an organization and make sure you are not missing keywords for the position. Compare your résumé with the job description and if you notice the description uses a different synonym for the same term in your résumé, make the appropriate change. 


  1. Quantify Your Accomplishments

The main difference between a duty driven résumé and an accomplishment driven résumé is the ability to quantify what you’ve done. It is one thing to say you have cross-functional leadership skills and quite another to prove it. Instead, turn your duty into an accomplishment by stating, “Spearheaded creation and implementation of the company employer board through cross-functional communication skills.”   

By describing a specific instance where you utilized your cross-functional skills, you now have shown that you communicate well and are able to accomplish quantifiable goals with your skill set.

Using numbers and percentages

The “before” sentence: Created sales strategy, which tapped a new market to exceed quarterly goals.

The “after” sentence: Developed and Implemented an enterprise-wide business strategy which tapped an unrealized referral market and exceeded the quarterly referral partnership goal by 130 percent.

Example background

The quarterly goal for my client was 10 referrals and she averaged 13 referrals. I turned the number into a percentage and determined the percentage was more impressive than the number. When my client applies to major corporations, she needs to impress without giving preconceived notions as to the volume of referrals she can handle.

In the current job market, numbers add the final touch and can take your résumé from standard to outstanding. 


  1. Transferable Skills

What is a transferable skill? According to the career advice blog from, “Transferable skills are any skills you possess that are useful to employers across various jobs and industries. These might include skills like adaptability, organization, teamwork or other qualities employers seek in strong candidates. Transferable skills can be used to position your past experience when applying for a new job—especially if it’s in a different industry.”

What are employers looking for on your résumé? Employers want you to explain how your skill will benefit their need. Review the job description and create bullets for your résumé that show you accomplishing these desired skills.

A common transferable skill for teachers is Creating Curriculum or Lesson Plans. Change this to Instructional Design and you have a transferable skill for many industries. Remember your résumé is an extended business card. If you list Written Communication as an “Area of Expertise” then use your résumé to highlight your skill!


Most professionals do not know how to write or discuss their transferable skills. Are you one to these professionals? Let’s change that!

Use the Infographic below to use reputable sources for discovering transferable skills



BONUS TIP: Should I use a Résumé template?

The answer is YES and NO. The fancy template found in Microsoft, Google, and Canva, may look nice – but do they work? If you use a template check it for ATS compliance by saving the document as a file. If the font is destroyed or words are missing, then the template is not compliant and you are wasting your time. For more tips on the matter, read this week’s “Ask The Experts” from the NRWA. My colleagues share their expertise on using templates.

Until Next Tuesday…

Leave Me A Comment:

Share your wisdom as a job seeker. What are you noticing in today’s job market?



Laura Bashore is the founder of Anew Resume and Career Services. As a Career Coach, Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Pro she empowers business professionals with the knowledge, tools, and methods to expand their career opportunities.

For weekly career advice and useful tips subscribe to the blog Ruby Tuesday-Career Blog

Don’t forget to connect with Laura Bashore on LinkedIn

If you are interested in learning more about Anew Resume and Career Services and how we can help expand your career opportunities visit us at or contact us directly at for a free consultation.


Share the Post: