Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Finding a new job is a full-time position and keeping up with it all can be a challenge: Finding positions you're interested in, filtering out the positions you're qualified for, writing a cover letter and updating your resume. You may want to just plop your most recent work experience on the top of your existing resume, but that would be a mistake. Here's some tips to improve your resume from top to bottom.
1. IMPORTANT STUFF UP TOP
Include your contact information at the top. Include your email, phone number and if applicable, a link to your website or portfolio and LinkedIn profile. Think about crafting a short statement — think of it like an Instagram bio — that explains who you are and what your career goals are. And don't be afraid to get creative.
2. HIGHLIGHT RELEVANT EXPERIENCES
Organize your work experiences in chronological order, starting with your most recent position. The positions you include should demonstrate your experience in the field you are now applying for. Describe what you did and how you excelled. Include metrics wherever possible and use action words and active voice. For example, don't just say "oversaw project management". Instead, say something like "oversaw work of four-person team with exceptional time and personnel management." Write to demonstrate how you made a difference.
3. SHOW OFF SOFT SKILLS
Soft skills, also known as interpersonal skills, can help set you apart from other candidates. Critical and creative thinking, problem solving, collaboration, verbal communication, effective writing and so many other skills are highly valued and prioritized by employers. Use your resume and cover letter to showcase your writing skills to communicate your purpose, value and personality. Set the tone for your interview process with a carefully crafted statement to showcase your skills and potential for adding significant value to the company.
4. DON'T FORGET TECH SAVVINESS
Include your software skills and technical knowledge somewhere on your resume. Most positions require basic computer literacy, but the job description will help point out what position-specific skills and software you may need. For example, graphic design positions will likely require mastery of the Adobe suite applications and administrative assistant positions will require mastery of Microsoft applications.
5. GET CREATIVE
You might think a resume is boring and lacks flare or excitement. Don't let the standardized format constrain your creativity though. Highlight special skills, like speaking another language, that may compliment your work, should you be hired. Find ways to include hobbies and passions where appropriate to give a taste of who you are as a person. This can help interviewers get to know you a little bit. You may also consider finding an aesthetically pleasing, well organized and functional designed resume. Microsoft Word and Canva have templated resumes that make it easy to customize and add your information,
6. USE KEYWORDS
Companies and recruiters will likely scan all submitted resumes for keywords associated with the industry and/or position you're applying for, so you need to incorporate the terms they're looking for. For example, if you work in media relations, be sure to include terms like press release, media lists, pitch email, media training, source alert, etc.
7. PROOFREAD — THEN DO IT AGAIN
Nothing screams "discard pile" like a typo in a resume. Carefully proof spelling grammatical errors and if possible, as a friend to read through your resume as well.
8. CONSIDER ADDING DESIGN ELEMENTS
Contrary to popular opinion, resumes don't have to bland, boring or colorless. Actually, more and more people are using more design-based resumes. Even Microsoft Word has more eye pleasing resume templates for you to plug in your own information to take care of color schemes, margin layouts and fonts.
Canva, my personal favorite, is another great free resource with pre-made templates for you to choose from and customize.
If you've gotten this far and still feel like you need an expert's help to write a resume, let's chat more! I'd love to help you brand yourself as a desirable candidate.