Write an Incredible Resume: 5 Golden Rules

Source from YouTube:

One of the biggest issues with resume tips from the internet is that most of it is subjective. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa.

So when Austin Belcak released his findings from analyzing 125,484 resumes, I got excited because data to a large extent takes the guesswork out of the equation.

In my opinion, his findings are pure gold, because I basically confirm my suspicions that in order to write an incredible resume, there are some proven, foundational principles we should follow whether we’re making a resume for our first job or improving upon a good resume we’ve had for years.

As usual, I care about your times. I’m gonna share the five key learnings upfront, then talk about the implications of the study, and end with practical resume writing tips you can use immediately to stand out.

So let’s get started.

Hi, friend, welcome back to the channel. If you’re new here, my name is Jeff, and we’re all about practical career interview and productivity tips, so if you’re a working professional, consider substribing for more actionable content.

Full disclosure, Austin did not ask me to make this video. He doesn’t even know who I am. The data geek in me just got so excited about all the numbers that I just had to share it in a video format.

Without further ado, the five key learnings from Austin’s study.

  1. Resumes with a Linkedin profile and see higher interview rates, but only 48% of resumes included a Linkedin profile.

  2. Candidates only included 51% of important keywords and skills, heavily under-indexing on soft skills.

  3. Measurable metrics improve resume outcomes, but only 26% of resumes included five or more metrics.

  4. Research shows that the ideal resume length is 475-600 words, 77% of resumes fell outside of that range.

  5. Fluffy content takes away from a resume, but 51% of resume included buzzwords, cliches, or incorrect pronouns.

I’m gonna link the regional article on all the resources I’ll mentioned down in the description below. So feel free to check that out if you want more perspective on how to write great resumes.

Now, you know the key takeaways, what does this actually mean for you?

Let’s start with number one

Include Linkedln Profile On Resume

Here’s a graph that completely blew me away.


At first glance, the implication seems to be pretty simple. Having a LinkedIn profile linked on your resume, gives you much higher chance of landing a job interview.

But if you take a closer look, having a bare bones or basic LinkedIn profile actually decreases your chances of getting a callback.

Meaning you’re better off hiding during the profile if you’re not putting any effort into it.

In my opinion, the differences between a comprehensive profile and a basic one boil it down to:

  1. Having a professional headshot and LinkedIn banner.

  2. How informative your work detail section is.

  3. How much effort you put into building meaningful connections.

I actually have a LinkedIn Tips & Tricks playlist that walks you through all those points.

And I also share how to get a custom LinkedIn URL to put on your resume so that it looks clean. Make sure to check that out after this video.

And that’s not all.

You might also notice that as job level increase, the gap in callback rates decreased between job applicants.

This suggests that having a strong LinkedIn profile is more important for entry-level job seekers compared to their higher level peers.

If you’re fighting this video helpful so far, please drop a like, and if not, keep watching because it only gets better.

Number two

Include The Right Keywords

Including the right keywords and skills when writing a resume or CV.

While not a big fan of just submitting applications online. It is a fact of life that applicant tracking systems scan for certain keywords and experiences to filter out what they defined as low potential candidates.

According to the research, the average job description includes 43 keywords, but most candidates only match 51% on their resume, meaning they only included 20 or so relevant keywords.

In order to overcome this, you want to use free online word cloud tools. I like a few down below. Copy and paste the job description in there and identify the keywords that pop up most frequently, and make sure to include those in a natural way when writing your resume.

Furthermore, we see that candidates resumes included 60% of the necessary hard skills and only 28% of the necessary soft skills, when compared to the target role’s job description.

This makes sense because there’s usually a Skill/Interest section at the bottom of your resume, where you highlight your capabilities in Excel, Python, SQL, the hard skills.

To make sure you’re also including relevant soft skills, you can take a look at Udemy’s workplace trends report or CNBC summery, and see which of the Top ten in-demand soft skills are applicable to you, and include those as well.

Include Measurable Results

Number three include measurable results in your bullet points. The study shows that 26% of resumes, including five or more instances of measures, while 36%, more than a third, didn’t include a single qualifiable results.

Why do companies prefer resumes with metrics? Because metrics make value easier to understand and quantify. I cannot stress this enough.

If 10 candidates all say they’re responsible for planning and executing social media campaigns, it’s very hard to tell who did it well and who didn’t.

The one person that says: “hey, my campaigns drove 30% year-on-year increase in sales revenue” is gonna stand out.

There’s a popular XYZ Resume Bullet Point Formula.

Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y], by doing [Z]


Drove 2,500 organic sign-ups to our monthly newsletter by A/B testing content layout and collaborating with co-marketing partners, representing a 43% quarter-on-quarter increase"

For example, if you’re a concept marketing manager, your bullet point might look like this.

Drove 2500 organic sign-ups to our monthly newsletter by A/B testing content layout and collaborating with co-marking partners, representing a 43% quarter-on-quarter increase.

Pro tip, a lot of you might be working on projects that might not have a direct impact on growth or revenue. Let’s say you’re working on your company’s internal tools. In that case, you can say your improvements led to a 33% increase in productivity for the sales team, which translates to X amount of incremental revenue.

Keep Length Between 475-600 Words

Number four, keep your resume length between 475-600 words.

A. This is because the research has shown that resumes in that sweet spot saw double the interviews of those that were outside of those ranges.

B. 77% of the resumes from awesome study had either fewer than 475 words or more than 600, meaning from a purely statistical standpoint, you’re automatically in a stronger position versus other candidates If you have a 500 word resume.

Of course, I do wanna point out, there are definitely exceptions when it comes to career level and academic roles.

If you’re a professor, a federal employee, or C-level executive, you might have a 2 to 3 page resume or CV with well over 1,500 words, and that’s perfectly fine.

For those of you who do not fall in that category though, this finding means that:

  1. do not keyword-stuff your resume.

It’s not about the number of keywords you have in your resume. It’s about having the ones that match the job.

  1. something a lot of us have been doing since middle school, using the word count tool in Word or Google Docs to make sure we’re staying within that sweet spot.

Do Not Use Busswords and Cliches

Number five, the bane of all recruiters, hiring managers, and just resume readers in general, buzz words and cliches.

Do not you them.

We’re all super motived by our passions. We’re all detailed-oriented, team players. We all have creative mindsets. And who doesn’t like to talk about the synergies between different products?

If you found that hard to listen to, imagine the recruiter going over 30 resumes a day.

And according to the study, 51% of resumes in the data set included some sort of buzzword or cliche.

Buzzwords, fluff, cliches are unnecessary and take away from your message.

Your writing should always be selling your experience, not summarizing it.

As a very practical solution, go ahead and google resume cliches and buzzwords and remove all the ones you finding in your resume to give it an instant upgrade.

Were some of the findings from Austin’s study pretty basic? Yeah. You should always include measurable results in your bullet points, optimize and add your LinkedIn profile, and avoid using buzzwords to write a good resume.

But hopefully, the numbers behind the research have convinced you that these non-negotiable aspects lay very solid groundwork for you to make additional tweaks and adjustments.

I’ve actually made quite a few of these mistakes myself back in the day, so make sure to check out my video on the top five resume mistakes I made when applying to management consulting and Google.

See you on the next video. In the meantime, have a great one.