Use action words
Although potential employers will be interested in how well you do, they will initially be more interested in what you do. It’s easy to dress things up to say that you did something in a spectacular way, but it’s a mistake to muddy the waters with a mountain of flowery words.
Instead, write in your resume about the challenges and problems you have faced in the course of your job and how you’ve turned them around to solve the issues and come out on top.
- Keep things professional. Remember to keep your audience in mind. A resume for a major bank where they wear a suit and tie and sit at a desk will look and sound different than a resume for the latest hipster company where they wear hoodies and sneakers and have a foosball table in the break room.
- Remember the tip from school: use a thesaurus. The person reading your resume will automatically begin to deduct IQ points if you repeat yourself multiple times.
- Be specific. Generalities and vague claims are unconvincing and will almost always hurt your credibility. Quantify when you can, using whole numbers, dollar figures, or percentages to reinforce your claims.
- Going back to the heading: use those action words. This can’t be stressed enough. Listing your accomplishments in terms of actions that you took to make them happen will help your future employer realize that you are the person for the job.
Use varied action verbs to indicate what you did and accomplished, and whenever possible fortify those accomplishment statements with quantified results.
If you are really interested in how to improve your resume, your resume should have that ‘wow’ factor. Imagine that any potential employers will receive—at a minimum—dozens of resumes for any one job. Yours needs to grab their attention not blend into the crowd.
Who can forget those frogs that urged us to buy a certain beverage by croaking out its name? Just as commercials are meant to stick with us, your resume should stick with anyone who reads it. It should make them feel as if only you can fit the bill.
How can you accomplish this? Tell compelling and memorable stories that help the potential employer recognize themselves and make the connection between the results you’ve produced in the past and the results you will produce in the future.
Consider experimenting with a unique format, some color and possibly some charts or graphs in your resume, to give it eye appeal and make it stand out and grab the employer’s attention.
Strategically and selectively applied color and graphic elements will make your resume stand out.
Tailor your resume to the job opening
Read the job posting and make sure that your resume includes content that shows the employer that you have what they need. If the job description says that the applicant should be able to multitask, then you need to clearly show through examples that you are a person who can multitask with ease.
Know what the employer’s needs are and let them know how you can best meet those needs. Know their goals and let them know how you can help them meet those goals. Make that connection clear. Is the company seeking growth? Provide examples that illustrate how you helped a company grow in the past. Are they reorganizing for efficiency? Clearly describe you helped your last employer assess and refine business processes.
Research and study the employer
Just as you shouldn’t go into a big test unprepared, don’t write your resume without doing a little background work on the company you hope to work for in the near future. Also, in general, who do you think are your competitors for the position? What will these other applicants bring to the table?
- What is the company’s philosophy, mission, and vision?
- What is the company culture like?
- Find out how the company started, whom its founders are, who its present leaders are, and how they got from their starting point to where they are today.
- What are the credentials that other applicants may possess? Do you have similar or superior credentials?
Proofread and edit, then edit and proofread again
Just as repeating yourself can potentially lower your IQ in the eyes of your audience, so too can blatant or simple errors. Here are some specific areas you should check.
- Grammar: The ‘effect’ of your resume shouldn’t be ‘affected’ by poor grammar.
- Spelling: While spell check can be a handy tool at times, it isn’t the last word in correct spelling. If you have extensive and impressive public relations accomplishments that are referred to as pubic relations accomplishments, you may have a problem.
- Punctuation: When you write about the success of past CEOs, don’t write about the success of past CEO’s. Make sure that your punctuation marks are in the right place, and never use an exclamation mark on your resume.
- Formatting: Once you are finished writing, review it several times to make sure that you have kept the format consistent throughout the entire piece.