If you think it’s painful to create your resume, think about how painful it is for the people who read hundreds of them every year. Hiring managers have to make quick decisions based on this all-important one or two-page document.
No matter what phase of your career you happen to be in, having a professional and well-written resume is essential. We’ve all seen bad resumes, stuffed with clichés and irrelevant information. Don’t let yours be one of them! Here are 10 tips you can use to give your resume a modern and fresh facelift.
- Don’t Overuse Objective Statements
Objective statements are getting pretty stale. For most people, the objective is pretty simple: get a job. Unless you have a compelling reason to use an objective, consider a career summary instead. This can act as a hook for the reader, and also shifts the focus away from your needs and toward what value you can bring to the company instead.
- Use Exciting Language
You don’t have to write a beautiful piece of prose to get hired, but using the right language can make a big difference in how you’re perceived. Use strong, active verbs to describe your work, and avoid wishy-washy language or excessive adjectives. Space on your resume is limited, and you’ll want to use that precious real estate to pack in some engaging language that hiring managers will respond to.
- Boost Your Resume with a New Degree
This one’s a little more difficult than changing your font or adding some extra white space, but it can make a huge difference. If you’re feeling stuck in your career, why not boost your resume by going back to school for a new degree?
It’s a great way to gain technical skills, boost your potential income, or even change careers.
Depending on the education you already have, it may not take you too long to get the education you need to succeed. Plus, you can take classes part-time while working a job or starting a business, which could help control costs. Many universities offer online, weekend and blended learning options to cater to working adults.
- List Your Strengths
As a culture, we’re taught to be humble about our accomplishments. There’s no place for that on a resume. It’s your chance to show off, list your strengths, and show a potential employer why you deserve to be part of the team. Don’t be shy—use decisive words in showcasing your strengths, and ask people who know you well to help if you’re having trouble deciding which of your strengths are most valuable.
- Spice It Up with An Artistic Touch
Sure, you can submit a bland black-and-white text resume, and it could end up working out. When you’re applying for an opportunity, however, the key is to stand out. A simple, plain text resume won’t be memorable.
Design elements can really make your resume pop and stand out, even if you’re not a designer. There are lots of free templates available online, so if you’re not comfortable using your own artistic touch, pick one that suits your personality and customize it.
- Highlight the Last Professional Book You Read
Employers like candidates who are self-motivated, proactive, and excited to improve themselves on an ongoing basis. One way to show that you’re a lifelong learner is to highlight the last professional book you read. Who knows—maybe the hiring manager has read it too!
- Personalize the Resume for the Position/Company
Companies don’t like to feel like they’re just another potential paycheck. Put some care into your application by personalizing your resume for the position or company you’re applying to.
Mine the job ad for the information you can use—for example, check to see if they use “supervisor” or “manager” and mirror that language as best you can. It will leave a positive impression and could help you get past any automation the company may be using to pre-skim resumes.
- Use Stats
Companies today want to be able to quantify the contributions individual team members make. Hiring managers love specificity, so if you increased sales by 10% or were responsible for increasing traffic to the company blog, put those stats on your resume. It’s easy to say that you’re self-motivated and a skilled collaborator, but those are subjective qualities: numbers tell the objective truth, and that’s what employers want.
- Avoid the Latest Cliches
Trends in business lead to clichés, and once something is a cliché, it comes across as tired on a resume. Terms like “detail-oriented” and “go-getter” make recruiters groan. More recently, “ninja” and “rockstar” have been overused in the startup world, making them tired and stale, not unique. You may not know what all the latest business clichés are, but if you stick to strong verbs, you’re on the right track.
- Make it Easy to Skim
Your resume isn’t something a recruiter is going to spend 30 minutes evaluating, or even 10. As you’ve probably heard, the average time a recruiter spends skimming a resume is just 6 seconds. If you’ve only got 6 seconds to make an impression, it’s important to make your resume easy to skim.
Highlight important information in bold and large font and make sure there’s plenty of white space. Looking at a wall of text will often put off a hiring manager and make them move on to an easier-to-read resume.
Once you’ve optimized the white space, fonts, and spacing between words, do some experiments.
Set a timer for six seconds and quickly skim your resume. What stands out? Having your friends and family repeat this test can be very helpful—fresh eyes will notice different things than you will.
Your Resume, Your Personality
Your resume doesn’t have to get you the job, it just has to get you in the door. Do your best to showcase your personality and communicate what you’ll bring to the company culture.
There will be plenty of time to chat about what you’ve accomplished during your career at the interview, so keep it brief on your resume. Cut out unnecessary words, and never downplay your unique strengths. They’re what will get you hired.