Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I can climb literally any mountain that’s put in front of me… until it comes time to job search and resumes suddenly become my Mount Everest. They’re tedious, time-consuming, and overwhelming, and the idea of crafting one is enough to form a pit of dread in my stomach. Clearly, I missed the fundamental life class on how to build a flawless resume without losing your mind.
"This razor gave me the silkiest, smoothest shave I've ever had! I never get any cuts or scrapes, even on those hard-to-shave places."
That said, while resumes simply aren’t one-size-fits-all, I’ve come to learn that there are universal items all successful women have on theirs—and I’ve tapped two experts to give you all the insider info.
Whether you’re looking to update your current resume, expand your job search, or get hired, you’ve come to the right place. With these tips, you can refresh your resume and land your dream job with ease. Keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about the things successful women have on their resumes.
1. They have a story
Anyone can list generic job duties on a resume, but successful women take it up a notch. Coffee explained to me that successful women will get specific and show potential employers the distinct value they’ve provided in past roles by using relevant metrics and highlighting selected accomplishments. Not only does this help tell the story of their career, but it also shows what they’re capable of contributing in their new role.
“For example, instead of saying you’ve ‘optimized processes,’ describe a process and the amount of efficiency you’ve created,” Coffee said. For example, Coffee recommends something like “Shortened sales reporting processes by 50% by integrating a real-time data feed” when explaining your previous accomplishments.
2. They have what’s needed for the role
“Every job is a bit different in terms of which skills you should play up or down. It’s very hard to make a one-size-fits-all resume,” Bounds told me. She then went on to explain that this is why successful women will keep a “shell” template that they can then tailor to suit the role they’re applying for. “Some jobs might require you to lean hard on your marketing or P&L experience; others might be more interested in leadership or partnership-building aptitude. It’s worth taking the time to ensure your resume speaks directly to the opportunity.”
To do this, Coffee explained that successful women will take the time to research which skills and experience are needed for the job and will then include those in some capacity on their resume. Likewise, they’ll also re-read job descriptions in their field in order to confirm their resume aligns with and provides examples for at least 80% of the standard requirements.
3. They have personal interests
Contrary to popular opinion, successful women are not about all work and no play. In fact, they have amazing work-life balance. Which is why they’ll place a “personal interests” section at the bottom of their resumes after education and work experience—something that hiring managers love. “When I’m hiring someone to be a good, long-term fit, I want to know what’s important to them outside of work,” Bounds explained to me. “An individual with a well-rounded and interesting life is likely to be someone who will bring important external perspectives into the office, and also someone less likely to suffer from burnout.”
4. They have a clean design
Successful women also know how to design a clean resume that shows employers they’re a strong contender in 30 seconds or less. And according to Bounds, they’ll do this by keeping their resume clean, modern and readable; they’ll include bullet points, bold or underline text accordingly, and make sure their spelling and grammar are impeccable. After all, they don’t need to distract from their work with an overly-designed template—their work speaks for itself.
5. They have an executive summary
Most of us struggle to come up with a half-decent Instagram bio, but successful women don’t have that problem on social media or their resumes. In addition to making their work history and skills section shine, Coffee told me they’ll also stand out by including their personal brand in their executive summary. They’ll place this at the top of their resume, underneath their contact information. “Positioning yourself in this way will leave a lasting impression and really differentiate your resume from the rest in the pile,” Coffee said.
That said, women who are thriving won’t just throw out any ol’ statement and slap it on their resume. Instead, Coffee explained that they’ll take the time to think about who they are at their core, whether it’s being kind, an innovator, a creator, and so on. They’ll also ask their friends, family, and coworkers about the traits and values that make them special and will use their feedback to create an amazing statement about themselves.
6. They have the right language
Successful women know how to talk the talk and walk the walk, and they’ll demonstrate this by using the right language on their resumes. Not only will they include keywords from the job description, but they’ll also use action verbs like “created,” “managed,” and more. Likewise, they’ll be up front and honest about any gaps in their job history and what they used that time off for—a transparency Bounds says pays off tenfold.
Furthermore, Bounds also said that successful women know what’s trending across all industries and will use this knowledge to their advantage. And right now, it’s no secret that machine learning and generative AI are all the rage. Which is why these women are familiarizing themselves with the basics and experimenting with things like ChatGPT to understand how they work and can be applied to their job or industry they’re working in.
7. They have authenticity
Above all else, successful women are 100% authentic in their resumes. They know how to play up their strengths without sounding too pretentious by highlighting their skills, accomplishments, and experience. And this tone makes it easier for hiring managers to trust, and in turn, hire them. With these women, what you see is what you get. And they don’t have any skeletons hiding in their closet.
When it comes down to it, successful women seem to land jobs easily and more often than others because they own who they are. They don’t apologize for their success, and they sure as hell don’t try to downplay it to cater to anyone else’s fragile ego. Stay true to yourself and follow the tips above, and in no time, you’ll be landing the jobs you want thanks to your standout resume.