Quick Fix: 10 Ways to Improve Your Resume in an Hour or Less
You’re busy at work and you just heard there’s a job opportunity you want to pursue. You need to jazz up your resume over your lunch hour and get it sent to the recruiter. What can you do (in a hurry) that will make a difference and get your resume noticed?
Some of these tips take just 5 minutes and some can be done in 15-20. In any case, pick and choose what you can get done in the time you have and improve your resume fast.
- Take a good look at the job description and find the keywords. You may be able to tell right away what they are, but if you can’t, use this word cloud generator. Paste the description in and see which words are the largest in the cloud. Those are your keywords.
- Because you really need to customize your resume to each job, use those keywords throughout your resume where you can. That will improve your chances of sailing through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and ensure you look like a candidate they should consider.
- Take a look at the top third of your resume. Actually print it and fold it in thirds so you can focus clearly on the top tier. Hiring managers only spend a few seconds reviewing resumes on the first pass. Look at that top section and make sure it highlights your most relevant accomplishments that match the job description. You need to show wthe impact you had, not just list your duties.
- Make sure you’ve updated your resume with all your recent awards or certifications and any other new skills or education you’ve acquired.
- Ditch the objective statement. This is now considered “old school” and should be replaced with a “Career Summary” or “Professional Profile.” Craft a brief statement or list of bullets that give a preview of what’s detailed further in your resume. It should describe who you are and what you have to offer in this position in 5 bullet points/sentences or less.
- Ensure the formatting and font choice is clear. Choose an easy-to-read font and make sure all your bullet points line up. The headings should all be the same size/ color and use any capitalization and bold accents consistently.
- Remove “References available upon request.” Everyone knows you’ll provide references when the time comes. This is just wasted space. Use it more wisely to highlight more relevant information.
- Remove you home address. This is irrelevant and may cause you to be eliminated because of possible commute distance or worry about your willingness to relocate. Instead, add a live link to your LinkedIn Profile, your email address and phone number.
- Swap out generic adjectives or titles and use action verbs for every bullet point. Eliminate words like “detail-oriented,” and “experienced” and go with specific words that describe your unique strengths.
- Make it skimmable. Remove excess words, shorten your bullet lists if you can, organize your skills into categories and list your relevant experience in reverse-chronological order. Make it easy for the hiring manager to read through and get the information quickly.
Whatever you do, make it clear what results/benefit you provided for each past job and give specific examples. Use numbers and percentages, if that make sense in your position. Above all, you want to be sure you communicate to this prospective employer not only what you can do, but the direct benefit if will be to the company when they hire you. That’s the bottom line.