Writing a Human Resources resume can be tricky. To work in Human Resources, you need to do it all. You deal with finances, benefits, and workplace laws. Recruiting is closely aligned with marketing. Working with employees requires the people skills of a social worker.
Most candidates don’t have degrees in accounting, marketing, law, and psychology. (Hat’s off to you if that’s the case!)
Writing For a Resume Expert
Writing a resume for a position in which you will evaluate resumes adds pressure as well. For one thing, you know the hiring manager scrutinizes hundreds of resumes weekly. The hiring manager has seen the best and the worst. And thousands in between. You need to demonstrate that you know how to create a great resume. Since you will be passing judgment on resumes if you get the job. This unique situation can lead to a lot of overthinking.
Let’s slow down and take it one step at a time.
How to Write a Human Resources Resume
- Identify your soft skills
- Use keyphrases from the job posting
- Use concise formatting with generous whitespace
- Take your time to craft compelling prose
- Make a unique version of your resume for each job
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are habits and behavioral traits included in your qualifications. ‘How’ you do things as opposed to ‘what’ you do. They are more difficult to quantify than technical prowess. They haven’t been validated by a degree or a certification. But they are no less important.
For example, knowing how to use Adobe Photoshop to create killer infographics is a hard skill. Holding the SPHR certification is a hard skill.
Being able to calmly mediate a heated argument between co-workers is a soft skill. Determining the effectiveness of an employee engagement program is a soft skill.
When you have identified your soft skills, you are ready to create an outline for your resume. Here are the elements of a resume:
A headline is a short phrase that captures your unique qualifications. It’s similar to a ‘value proposition’ in product advertising—but you are the product. An effective headline packs a punch. Just like a headline for an article or blog post, it should command attention. It doesn’t need to be a full sentence.
Items to Use in Your Headline
- The number of years of experience you have.
- The industries you have worked in.
- Certifications or educational achievements.
- The hard and soft skills that make you uniquely qualified.
- HR sub-specialties you have experience in.
- The keywords an employer would use to proactively recruit.
Here’s an example of a headline that won the job:
‘Dedicated and proactive individual with 5+ years’ experience in human resources and recruiting.’
The writer of this headline was hired at PeopleScout.
Craft your headline for the specific position. Use keywords from the job posting. Capitalize every word of your headline. It’s a headline, after all.
Here are some phrases that might work in yours:
- Advanced Knowledge of HR Procedures
- Ability to Solve Complex Administrative Challenges
- Experience Optimizing Recruiting Processes
- Managed 100+ Employee Workforce
Profile Statement (or Career Summary)
This summarizes your skills. You can think of it as a mini cover letter. Consider the recruiters, robots, and hiring managers screening resumes. If they only read the top 25% of the resume, you want to pack as much key information in the headline and profile as you can.
How is a headline different than a profile?
This is a common question because they are similar. A profile condenses information like a headline, but it’s longer. It’s also formatted with bullet points instead of capitalizing each word. You can have both a headline and a profile. Use different keywords and phrases in each.
An objective doesn’t need to be complicated or elaborate. Just state matter-of-factly the goal of your job search. Take the opportunity to add more keywords from the job posting. This means you need to tailor your objective for each job you’re going after.
If you have extensive experience, you may not need this. If it’s your first job, state your specific employment goal. Your work history may not have a lot of HR experience.
All sections should be listed in reverse-chronological order. (Start with the most recent first and work backwards.)
- Type of degree earned
- Honors designations, if any
- Institution name and address
- Dates you attended
- Certificates/licenses earned
Work Experience and Key Results
This is where you can go into detail about your previous responsibilities. Determine the effect your efforts had on company. Focus on quantifiable achievements if possible.
For example, say ‘Reduced payroll expenses by 20%’ or ‘Increased employee retention by 32%,’ or ‘Implemented self-service HR portal and integrated it with existing systems.’
Again, if you are looking for an entry-level position, this may not be possible. Work to present your previous jobs in the best possible light. Emphasize administrative duties.
Keyphrases, Keyphrases, Keyphrases
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) use a resume parser. This is a computer program that screens resumes for the keywords and phrases in the job posting. The first pair of eyes to see your resume are those of a robot. You have to make it past the robot before a human will see your masterpiece. Use as many keyphrases from the job posting as possible.
Use Concise Formatting With Generous Whitespace
Don’t bombard the reader with a wall of text. Make several sections. Use larger font for your headline. You want the resume to be easy to scan. The first person to look at it might only read your headline and profile.
Take The Time to Write Compelling Prose
The way you write your resume is as important as the words you use. Especially for a position in Human Resources. Every HR position requires excellent communication skills. In fact most job postings use that exact phrase. You have to demonstrate your writing skills on your resume or you will be weeded out immediately. Take your time.
Make a Version of Your Resume For Each Position
The hiring manager can tell if your resume is generic or crafted for the specific position. Think of it as an ‘answer’ to the ‘question’ posed in the job posting. And remember the keywords we keep mentioning? You know the drill.
Good luck in your job search!
By Liz Strikwerda
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