The next time you apply for a job, before you hit the submit button on your application I want you to ask yourself a couple of questions. Does my resume make me standout from my competition? Does my resume put me at an advantage or a disadvantage? If I was a hiring manager looking at my resume, would the content compel me to pick up the phone or the next resume? You see, the fact is most people don’t put enough value in having a good resume and the truth is that it can be the difference between getting an interview and being one of the many people receiving rejection emails. You know, the ones where they thank you, aren’t interested and want you to apply again in the future. The point of this post is to give you seven things you can today to vastly improve your resume and at the end, if you still want more direction I will include a link for further assistance. In addition, if you aren’t sure your resume is formatted right you can always Google resume templates or check out Resume Samples .
1. No more than two pages!
So many people make the mistake of having these incredibly long resumes. If you resume is longer than two pages than it is highly unlikely the entire resume is being read. It also means you didn’t do a good job summarizing and prioritizing the information that will get you hired. Keep it to one or two pages and if you feel like you can’t do that because you have 25 years experience, then I would advise you to only go back 15 years and leave the stuff before that off. Odds are it isn’t as relevant to the roles you are applying for today anyway.
2. Drop the objective!
This is a personal pet peeve. Here is why objectives are pointless. I have never looked at an objective and said “Oh my god! Their objective matches my job, they must be a great fit”. You are a fit or you are not, having an objective never helps your cause. However I have seen resumes where the person has applied to a job that is completely different than their objective and thought to myself, well maybe they don’t want this type of role. What it comes down to is that an objective can very much so hurt you in the application process but is highly unlikely to help you. Drop it.
3. Quantify your results!
Hiring managers and recruiters love it when candidates do this. If you made an impact at your last company and you are bale to quantify it, why in the world wouldn’t you? What sounds better to you, “I reduced waste and saved the company money” OR “I lead a Kaizan event that reduced scrap 20% and saved the company $250,000 over the first 18 months after it was implemented”? To me, clearly the second example is way better. It lets the decision makes know what you have done and how you might be able to make a similar impact to them. You did the work, make sure you give yourself credit and advertise your capabilities appropriately.
4. Add bullet points!
To me there is very little that will make me look at a resume and have a hard time focusing than seeing a bunch of paragraphs describing what someone has done in the past. Bullet points are extremely helpful because they draw the eye and help you be concise when cataloguing your previous experience.
People are often surprised about how much this matters. Do yourself a favor and spellcheck your resume as well as having someone proofread it. When I see a spelling error on a resume to me it says a few things. Either the person is dumb, they are careless or they didn’t care enough about this role to put the appropriate time into making sure there resume was ready.
6. Lose the picture, crazy font and colored background
And yes, I have seen all of these. I assume that when people do this they do it because they want to out. I get wanting to do that but this isn’t a good way to go about it, do that with your content. Having pictures or crazy fonts or a colored background is just kind of odd and I wouldn’t recommend it.
7. Make your resume keyword heavy!
When you apply to a role it goes into an ATS (applicant tracking system). Depending on the ATS there are either going to be search functions that use keywords or there will be an algorithm that matches your resume against the job description. In either of these cases it behooves you to be heavy on the keywords. So if you are a Software Engineer, have a section where you catalogue the programming languages you are proficient in but then also when you are describing individual roles, include the languages you used in those roles as well. While it may seem a tad redundant, it is ultimately more ATS friendly and increases your chance of getting noticed.
So there you have it. Those tips alone should make a significant impact and help you get to the first round of interviews. However if you need more help formulating your resume or need additional coaching try a service like Great Resumes Fast that specialize in career assistance.