Your resume is often the first chance you get to wow a potential employer. For this reason, drafting a resume can seem like a daunting task that is better suited to a bestselling author than an average job seeker. But the reality is that a resume does not require magical abilities. In fact, keeping things straightforward and simple is often the best way to attract the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager.

Make the Most of Valuable Resume Real Estate

The old standard for a resume was one page. With most resumes being viewed on a screen these days, this rule no longer holds true, but that does not mean the length of your resume should rival War and Peace. Stick to about two pages. Include about ten years of work history unless there is something significant to the job you are applying for tucked away further back than that.

Even with two pages to work with, you still may have to do some editing to make the most of the space. Ditch the objective line. Most job seekers have the same objective (finding a job), so it is unnecessary to state this on the resume. Instead, use your cover letter to write a more detailed version of why you want to work for a particular company. You can also skip “References provided upon request” at the end of your resume. Potential employers already assume this, so there is no need to waste space on it.

Mind the Format

Recruiters often give a resume a quick scan before deciding whether to consider or reject someone, so it is important that your resume is easy to read. A text-heavy resume where work history is not clear may get thrown in the reject pile simply because the recruiter had a hard time figuring out your work story.

Make titles, dates of employment and company names easy to read. Organize your work history in chronological order, and use bullet points to make it easy to scan. Avoid writing a list of your skills, and instead use your work experience to show your skills. For example, instead of writing you know how to use Excel, include a bullet point on a recent job that says, “Generated monthly sales reports using Excel.” A recruiter wants to see that you actually used the skills in the workplace. A big list without context does not necessarily show demonstrated knowledge of a skill.

There are many resume templates online. If coming up with a format is not your strength, search for something that will showcase your work history in an easy-to-read format.

Keep Your Writing Clear & Easy to Read

Avoid flowery language, and keep your writing simple. There is no need to use buzzwords or complicated acronyms. Such things can detract from the reality of your work experience and hide the things you want a recruiter to see. Consider this statement:

Built capacity through synergistic collaborations with other team members in order to build upward velocity

Sounds fancy, but it tells a recruiter very little about what you did. Revise this statement so it explains exactly what you did and what was accomplished:

Collaborated with outside reps to improve new customer retention and increase sales by 25%

Such a statement explains key accomplishments and also shows your ability to work with others.

Before you send in your resume, get a friend to proofread it. A resume free from typos and poor writing can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates. You may have all the qualifications for a job, but a resume riddled with errors shows a lack of attention to detail. If you are not willing to take the time to present a clean resume, you send the message that you will be equally as sloppy with your work.

Bonus Tip: Update Your LinkedIn Profile

We all know it is common for employers to look online to learn more about you. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and accurately matches the information in your resume. You can also use your LinkedIn profile to showcase links to some of your work and other things you would not include with a resume.