Your resume isn’t just a historical document of your work history--it’s your own personal advertisement, that includes sufficient information to sell yourself and determine if you are worthy for an interview. You don’t have much time to highlight the most impressive and unique details about you and your work experience. Condensing all your skills into a document that is easy to digest is certainly a challenge, but the key is not to get overwhelmed. How? Get out everything on paper, and then work on polishing and refining. Already have a base resume ready? Great! Here are 5 quick things you can do to improve your resume right now.
- Remove Irrelevant Information
As editors like to say, “leave the muscle, lose the fat.” Remove things that are obvious or that hiring managers will not care about. Your high school extracurricular activities? Get rid of them. The classic line “References available upon request”? Delete it. Most hiring managers will assume you have references to offer.
Eliminate filler words and phrases. This includes terms like “duties include” or “responsible for.” When possible, delete small words like “a,” “an,” and “the” to tighten up sentences.
You want every single line to be powerful, so get rid of anything that doesn’t make you seem like an impressive and qualified candidate. Your resume doesn’t need to detail your entire background—just showcase your professional highlights.
- Check for Quantifiable Achievements
Using keywords is important, but mixing in numbers to tell your story provides an easy measurable indicator of your performance. Take another look at your bullet points and identify places you can add some hard facts and statistics. Including numbers makes a strong statement that you not only know what you’re talking about, you take action on it as well.
For example, instead of “Responsible for bringing in new clients” write something like “Brought in X new clients within X months.”
- Customize It
It takes some extra work on your end, but it is important you tailor your resume for every single position you apply for. It may seem like a pain, but if you’re aiming to be viewed as the most qualified candidate for the role, then your resume needs to highlight exactly what that hiring manager is looking for.
Start by reviewing the description of the specific job you’re applying for and pull out keywords of the most important qualifications and skills. Then, be sure your own resume includes those keywords. If you do posses the skills they need make sure they are adequately emphasized as well.
- Run a “Skim Test”
After spending so much time reviewing and revising your resume, you’d like to think that hiring managers spend their time admiring each bullet point. Reality is, the average hiring manager spends about six seconds scanning your resume before deciding which pile it ends up in. That said, your resume needs to be incredibly easy to read and easy to skim.
First, be sure your contact information stands out in big bold letters at the top. Next, scan the document to confirm your eyes easily catch your past employers name and job titles. Last, continue to scan to be sure your education and special skills sections stand out. Those are all the important items hiring managers will be looking for.
You’d be surprised at how many typos and errors your eyes can skip over. Spending so much time on one document can cause you to become too close to it and make you miss some of the small details. Go through your resume several times with an eye only for proofing. Try reading it backwards. Reading in an unnatural way forces you to focus on each word and more likely to catch slipups.
And there you have it! 5 easy steps you can take to improve your resume. Some of these changes seem small, and they are, but together they can have a big impact on your future.