You already know that your resume is the best tool you have available to you in your job search. That’s why it’s vital that you examine that resume as objectively as possible. When you do, you’ll likely discover many areas where improvements can be made. You owe it to yourself to ensure that your resume properly presents you as the best candidate for any job you seek. However, that means that you need to know how to craft a resume that can dazzle any hiring manager. These 7 tips can help you improve your resume and land more interviews.
Improve your resume in under 45 minutes
1. Skip the objective statement and use a summary instead
If you have a resume that includes an objective statement, it’s time to make a change. The old objective statement is a relic of yesteryear. Today’s best resumes all utilize a summary statement instead – and for good reason. When you use an objective statement, you are focusing your attention on what you want out of the job.
You should never allow a potential employer to think that your only objective is to further your career! To avoid that impression, use a summary statement to change that emphasis. When you do, you will demonstrate that you are focused on how you can benefit that employer. This is one of the easiest ways to improve your resume, and will establish the right tone for every other section in the document.
We wrote a good post on why you should never include an objective on a resume.
Put your self in the shoes of a hiring manager.
Take look at this objective:
Now take a look at a well written summary:
The resume summary option is the one that’s better suited for keywords that will satisfy both ATS scans and hiring managers. Let’s go into keywords next!
2. Optimize keywords to satisfy the ATS
Make sure that you research and use the right keywords, based on the information found in the job posting. Many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems now, and you need to get past those systems. An ATS relies on keyword searches as part of its approval protocol. If your resume doesn’t contain the right words, you’re likely to get rejected. Improve your resume by using those relevant keywords to satisfy the machines and ensure that your resume reaches human eyes.
Look at the job description for ideas on what keywords (hard skills) you can incorporate. You can use a core competencies section on your resume to easily tailor keywords to each position you apply to. After your resume summary, this is the best real estate for your key skills and talents.
Example of an optimized core competencies section:
3. Quantify your achievements with numbers
In the old days, job seekers would simply list their accomplishments in broad terms. Today, everything is data-driven. In fact, your achievements will fail to impress if the hiring manager can’t immediately quantify the benefits you provided to your former employer.
So, when you describe all the great things you did in your previous jobs, use hard numbers.
Don’t write vague descriptions such as:
“Led a team of twenty people in accounting department reorganization.”
Instead, write that you:
“Headed a twenty-person team that reorganized the accounting division – cutting waste by 23%, reducing labor costs by 13%, and contributing 11% to company profits in the first two quarters of 2012.”
4. Improve your resume by including only relevant information
Focus is the watchword here. You need to keep your resume focused on the company you’re trying to join. Another common term for this is “tailoring” your resume to fit the job. When you decide what to include in your resume, weed out any information that is likely to be irrelevant to the hiring manager.
He or she won’t care about your old college activities, group memberships, or summer jobs. Maintain a tight focus and include only the relevant information that adds to your perceived value as a potential employee.
For example, if you’ve spent the last ten years working in marketing, no marketing firm cares about those three months you spent working as a lifeguard when you were in college. Stay on-point!
5. Utilize powerful action verbs
Words matter. Wherever written documents are concerned, words are the currency; your resume is no different. You need to choose yours carefully to ensure that every word adds to the value of your resume.
Verbs can be especially tricky for many resume creators, since we all have a list of common verbs that we’re used to seeing. Those commonly-used verbs aren’t enough. You need to use powerful action verbs with your resume. You can improve your resume with action words that help to paint the right kind of picture in the hiring manager’s mind.
Forget about terms like “responsible for” and get creative with your verb use. Use words that better describe the impact you had in your previous job. Try power words like:
You get the point. Break out that thesaurus and find some powerful, descriptive verbs to help liven up your resume descriptions. Better yet, save yourself the trouble.
Instead, check out our list of 101 Awesome Resume Power Verbs that can help make your resume pop!
6. Focus on achievements–not job duties
Don’t just describe your past job responsibilities. If the hiring manager is at all familiar with the industry in which you’ve worked, chances are that he already knows. Instead, use your job history section to talk about the things you achieved in those jobs.
By doing so, you can describe those accomplishments on your resume in terms that provide a clear picture of your proven value as an employee. And again, use concrete numbers to quantify the results that those achievements produced for your prior employers. Fortunately, many of your rivals will still be listing their prior job duties. You can stand out by focusing on the value you offer.
7. Leverage the power of LinkedIn
To improve your resume and give it more impact, use social media to its fullest potential. Today’s most employers will check your LinkedIn before calling you to an interview or making an offer.
Include a link to your LinkedIn profile page in the body of your resume. Of course, you also need to make sure that your profile is properly crafted to ensure that it presents you in the best light. To properly leverage your profile page, make sure that it enhances your resume.
Keep these points in mind:
- Add a picture of yourself as you would appear in an interview setting.
- Clean up your profile, if necessary. Remove any controversial material or irrelevant information. You want it to accurately portray you as a valuable potential employee.
- Use the profile to flesh out the story told in your resume. Don’t just repeat the resume text. Instead, spend time detailing how your experience and skills have benefited previous employers.
- Update every detail so that your information is as current as possible.
- Make sure that everything is accurate. Employers typically do their due diligence where fact-checking is concerned.
The fact is that almost every resume can be enhanced in some way. By focusing on these 7 tips to improve your resume, you can better identify ways to make your resume stand out. In a job market that’s more competitive than ever before, those changes could be critical when it comes to helping you land more interviews.