How To Improve Your Resume

Robin Schwartz

How To Improve Your Resume

Many recruiters and hiring managers admit to giving most resumes a 10 second scan. If the right education, experience or keywords don’t jump out at them, they move on. Knowing your resume needs to impress at first glance, you should regularly be looking at how it can be improved.

Edit The Format

Make sure the format of your resume is easy to follow. It should highlight the necessary information is something that should be done regularly. The format of your resume can greatly increase its visibility with recruiters and hiring managers. The pertinent education or job experience information should not be hard to find.

The font should be easily readable and not overly fancy. If you use boxes or shaded areas, make sure the content within them makes sense for your resume. Your resume format needs to enhance your ability to be seen, not hinder it.

If you still have an “objective” on your resume, consider replacing it with a “summary” section instead. The idea of an objective is slightly outdated. Employers can guess your real objective is to get a job offer.

Instead, use that formatted part of the resume to summarize your experience, education and skills for the hiring team. A summary can also highlight certifications or unique professional experiences that are otherwise difficult to know where to add to your resume.

Include Relevant Keywords

You want your resume to reflect keywords that will trigger with a company’s recruiting software as well as a human reviewer. Many organizations use initial screening software to find applicants to who are qualified. Failing to update your resume with the relevant keywords will cause you to go unnoticed.

You can improve your resume by adding appropriate keywords.

How?

Do a job search online for the job title(s) you are interested in. Try to make sure it is within your area. Compare the various job descriptions. You will likely see that some keywords (these are called “buzzwords” ) show up regularly. Make sure those are added to your resume to increase its visibility for the positions you are applying for.

Go Beyond Your Job Duties

Don’t list your exact job description on your resume.

  1. Job descriptions aren’t usually the most thrilling reads.
  2. Your specific job duties might not be as relevant to the next position you are applying for.

Instead, try to quantify your achievements with your roles.

For example:
Instead of saying:

run monthly account reconciliation reports

you might highlight that you

increased compliance rate by 75% by instituting monthly account reconciliation procedures

You can improve your resume by taking the time to highlight your accomplishments rather than reciting your job description.

Compare With Similar Professionals

You may have the opportunity to compare your resume with similar professionals to get an idea how they format or organize their resume. Many professionals add their current resume to their LinkedIn profile. Take a look at other relevant resumes to see if yours can be improved.

If you belong to a professional organization, you may be able to ask other members to share their resume with you. Keep a close eye out for what your peers are highlighting on their resume, the keywords they are using, or the overall format they use.

Request Professional Review

It is always helpful to have another set of eyes take a look at your resume. Take advantage of any personal connections you might have with hiring managers, HR experts or recruiters. Ask them to give you some honest feedback about your resume.

Others are able to see small mistakes you missed or recommend format changes to your resume. Those who have the experience of reviewing hundreds of resumes for a position will be able to tell you if yours passes the 10 second test. Meaning, would they push your resume forward for consideration or did your resume not catch their eye?

If you don’t have access to a professional resume reviewer in your personal circle, consider branching out to professional circles. Make an appointment with a recruiter to discuss your experience and resume. If you would rather not work with a recruiter, consider paying a resume coach/writer to review your resume and recommend any changes.

Start From Scratch

Depending on how long you have been using the same resume, it may be time to start over from a blank page. It seems easier to just keep using the same resume format and adding the newest job title in, but challenge yourself to start fresh. Deciding to draft a brand new resume will encourage you to consider other formats, fonts, styles, keywords and overall aesthetic. A fresh resume might be the best way to improve your current one!

Improving your resume should be a regular exercise, not an afterthought. Keeping your resume relevant, up-to-date and visually appealing will greatly increase your chances of having it seen by recruiters and hiring managers.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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