8 Simple Tips to Make Your Resume Amazing

Writing your resume can sound like an easier task than it can be once you start typing it up.  Your resume can help open doors if done well and can quickly close doors if done poorly.

This is a list of eight tips to make your resume shine and keep you in the running for that next job so that you will be able to go from candidate to hired!

1.      Use the objective wisely

I have always had mixed feelings on the objective section.  Unless done right, it is wasted space that is not always needed.  Especially considering that space on a resume can be limited.

Far too often, people write something generic like “To secure a challenging position with growth opportunities in which I can utilize my unique skills and ability”.  Unfortunately, this type of objective actually could take someone out of the conversation of possible candidates for the job because it really does not say what they want to do.  In fact, it can be perceived as if the prospect lacks direction

If you really want to include an objective on your resume, here is a hint.  Invest in a little extra time to say that you really want the job you are applying for.  An example would be:

To be entrusted with the position of X at company Y.  My unique skills of A, B, and C can be utilized help company Y achieve its goal of [specific phrasing to show that you have done your research].

However, I will tell you most recruiters and hiring managers that I have worked with look straight at the experience section, and generally skip over the objective section.

For this reason, it is not a bad idea to bring up in the interview the fact that you took the time to research the company and actually customize a resume.  You could casually waive a statement like:

As I mentioned in the objective section of my resume, I really want to work at company Y because of your company’s goal/reputation/commitment to [what you mentioned in the objective section].

By doing this, you will get some extra points in your favor that just might tip the scales in your favor when it comes time to decide who gets the job.  If you are not able to write a targeted objective specific to the company, you better off leaving that part of the resume off entirely.

2.     Keep the descriptions concise

Keep in mind that if your resume makes it to a human being, it is going to be skimmed.  Making it easy to read is going to make it less likely to end up in the trash.

The area of your resume that will receive the most attention is the section that you discuss your work history.   When I look at a resume, my eyes dart immediately to the work history because that is the section that helps me know if a candidate is going to be worth the time to further consider them, interview them, and possibly even offer a job.  This makes the work history section of your resume so crucial.

The best way to make your resume easy to read is to use bullet points when giving descriptions of your previous jobs.  Some people use paragraphs to describe their jobs, but this can be distracting and hard to read when the recruiter or hiring manager is giving just a short period of time to look at the resume.

It can’t be stressed enough the need to use bullet points.  Try to keep your bullet points to one line on the page.  If you ever have a bullet point that makes its way to more than two lines, you should try to divide that description into two different bullets.

3.     Focus on the value you have brought to your other employers

In hiring circles, the decision makers have only a short amount of time to determine if a candidate is going to be a good fit for a position, and they will live with the consequences, both good and bad, of this decision most likely for a long time.  This makes looking at past experiences so important.

A candidate who is able to show the value they brought to other positions is going to be more likely perceived as someone who will provide value at any job they take.

This is why it is a good idea to show concrete results about accomplishments that increased revenues, lowered costs, or made your job work more effectively with customers or your colleagues.

Following a few simple tips will make your resume stand out for the right reasons

Following a few simple tips will make your resume stand out for the right reasons

You do not need to include exact figures that your current or former employers keep guarded, and in fact, by not showing exact numbers, you can make yourself appear more trustworthy with confidential information.

These do not necessarily have to be big and grandeous.  Employers will believe that you can be trusted for the responsibility of something big because you did a great job when the numbers were small.  Here are some examples:

“Increased department’s sales by X% by ……..”

“Implemented cost savings initiative that resulted in $20,000 cost savings per year”

“Proposed additional products and experiences to each customer to drive additional sales.”

 

4.     Use action verbs  

Showcasing your previous jobs is all about what you have done and the value that you have brought to your previous employers.  This helps prospective employers know what you will be able to do for them.  This is why starting off your job descriptions with action verbs is so powerful.

Think about how these two examples of the same job sound when compared side by side.

Responsible for daily bookkeeping of expenses

Maintained records of expenses on a daily basis

Notice how both statements say basically the same thing.  The first one can come across as vague.  In reality, anything in a job description should be something you were responsible for doing or accomplishing.  Therefore, I strongly recommend not using the word “responsible” to start off a task or accomplishment.

The second example sounds more like a specific task.  By using an action verb actually can be perceived as more of an action oriented person who can trusted to get things done.

5.      Discuss what the result was of each task or responsibility

Let’s take this up a notch on how you can really showcase what you have done in your previous jobs and the amount of value you bring to your jobs.

At the end of each task or accomplishment, briefly talk about why you did that task or what it accomplished.  This does not have to be elaborate.  You can get this across in just a couple of phrases.

Here is how to make the last example really stand out :

  • Maintained records of expenses on a daily basis
  • Maintained records of expenses on a daily basis to ensure the department’s financial results were within budget

See how adding a little extra phrasing at the end can make the task seem less like a repetitious chore and more like a critical component needed to make sure the organization meets its goals?

The difference between the two statements can imply that the first statement would be made by someone who just wants to do the basics of what is expected, and the second statement can be perceived as the candidate who wrote it is a go getter who makes each job they do better.

6.     Brag without being boastful

Here is the bottom line, if you do not brag on yourself and your accomplishments no one else will.

It can be a natural thing to try to minimize what you have done or the value that you bring to the table.  Oftentimes, this is simply a defense mechanism to mask a fear of being rejected.  If you find yourself wanting to hold yourself back from showing the real you and all that you have accomplished, you might be cheating yourself, and rather than being protected from rejection, holding back on what you can do can make you more likely be rejected for a job in favor of a candidate that brings less to the table than you do.

Don’t let that happen…

Here’s the secret sauce.  Don’t let the pendulum swing completely the other direction and come across as arrogant and boastful.  Doing so actually can turn people off and comes across as a defense mechanism.

Simply take inventory of what you have done in your career and what you are most proud of having accomplished.  If you get a mental block, it might be that you are discounting something.  Helping others get a project done or organizing files a certain way.

When you proudly write what you have done and what you are excited about having done, your enthusiasm will come across to whoever is reading your resume.  If you were a hiring manager, would you hire the person who was proud of what they have done or someone who was not giving their best on the resume?

7.      Be careful with the name of the file 

Amazingly, the name of the file will give more clues than you might think.  In most cases these days, you are electronically giving your resume through online job postings or by emailing your resume.  This means that someone is going to see the name of the resume.

Believe it or not, the name of your resume might actually play a role in whether or not you get an interview or even the job.

What you want to do is to make sure that the name of your resume does not make it seem as if you do not have career direction.  Believe it or not, it might come across as lacking in direction by having a generic industry or job title in the name of the file (i.e. Kevin Sanderson – Finance.doc).

The reason this might be an issue is the person on the other end looking at your resume might get the impression (rightfully or wrongfully) that you do not have direction of where your career is going.

If you are entertaining different types of jobs, it is ok.  Just do not let the companies you are applying with realize this.  You want them to think that you really want to work with them regardless of how open you are to other jobs or whether or not you are willing to work in other industries or fields.

You can do this by naming the file one of these ways:

  • Generic with just your name (ie. Kevin Sanderson.doc)
  • Generic with your name and the date (i.e. Kevin Sanderson 022314.doc)
  • Specific with the name of the company (i.e. Kevin Sanderson Company X.doc)

The bottom line is having a great resume name is probably not going to get the job on its own.  But having the wrong resume name might actually take you out of running for the job.

8.     Write for Humans Not a Computer System

In many companies, resume get scanned in to a computer

Far too often, people try to force certain keywords and buzzwords into their resume to make the resume get picked up by a computer so that the recruiters and hiring managers actually get to see it.

You don’t know what keywords they will be looking for

Look at the job description if one is posted (monster, careerbuilder, company website) and try to hit on the points of what is covered by

Make your resume scannable for humans, and generally speaking it will work for computers too.

Remember that the best way to work with the computer is to get your resume in front of a human being.

Last updated : June 3 2014

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