6 Tips For Stepping Up Your Resume Game

To stand out from the job hunting crowd, your resume needs to be better than your average.

Workin’ Girl

While LinkedIn seems to be where all the action is, the resume is still an important part of your job search. Whether you are applying for jobs online or in person, the first piece of information that is typically requested is a copy of your resume. But nowadays when recruiters spend only about 7 seconds reviewing a resume, how do you ensure that yours stands out from the pack?

The average job opening attracts 250 resumes, but only 4-6 people will be interviewed for the position. This means that you have got to step your game up to not only get noticed, but selected for the interview you want. So here are a few quick tips to help you level up that resume:

1. Select an attractive design. 

When deciding on a design, it is important to first consider the role and industry you are applying to as some are more conservative (finance, consulting, legal) than others (marketing, graphic design). However, you still want to ensure your resume quickly catches the eye of the reader, regardless of industry. This doesn't mean an overly complicated or busy design. Choose one that is modern, simple and easy to follow, with clear section headers and visible white space. We are so used to plain black-and-white resumes, but adding in a hint of color can give your resume a fresh look and attract the recruiter's attention. Show a little creativity!

2. Switch up the font.

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I beg you to step away from Times New Roman, known as the "grey sweatpants" of resume fonts. Technically, there is nothing wrong with Times New Roman, but it is overused and can cause your resume to blend in with all the other resumes in the pile. Try using another font that may help your resume stand out, but can still scan and read well. If you like the style of Times New Roman, try a close alternative like Georgia or Garamond. If you want to go in a more modern direction, try Calibri, Helvetica, or even Arial Narrow.

3. Nix the outdated resume sections.

In 2019, if an employer knows they need your references, they'll simply ask for them. Therefore, "references upon request" is not required and is just taking up valuable space on your resume. The same thing goes for objective statements. If you still have the vague objective statement that reads "to find a position where I can apply my experience", it's not giving the reader any useful information. Let it go. Opt for a professional summary/career profile section instead to provide a better preview of your skills and expertise to intrigue the recruiter.

4. Avoid generic summary statements. 

Speaking of your professional summary, the top of your resume offers prime real estate for you to sell yourself. Don't waste it on broad statements or describe yourself with generic buzzwords such as "self-starter" or "strategic thinker". Utilize that space to share unique and meaningful highlights about you and your expertise that will prompt someone to read further to get the details.

5. Amplify your accomplishments and use action verbs. 

No one wants to read a list of job tasks that they could easily find on Indeed or Monster on their own. In writing your resume, the focus should be on your major contributions and accomplishments, quantifying wherever possible. If you have brought in new business, surpassed sales goals, or saved your company money, put it out there! This is one time where you are expected to toot your own horn, so take advantage! Recruiters don't want to just hear about what you did, but also the value and results you delivered. In addition, as you describe your contributions, incorporate action words. Phrases like "Responsible for" come across as passive and leave no impact.

6. Target your resume.

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We saved the best (and most important tip) for last:

While design and format are essential for your resume to stand out, substance will always be king. Recruiters are looking for resumes that are optimized for the specific industry and position, telling a clear story about your experience and why you are the right fit.

Your resume should not be all things to all people, but rather someone should be able to pick it up and immediately understand what you are looking for. So eliminate old or irrelevant positions, and outline the areas of your experience that most align with the job you're applying to. The main point to remember here is, recruiters spend just a few seconds reading your resume, so if it takes longer than that to discern what kind of position you are seeking, and more importantly, what you're qualified for, you've already lost their attention.

Pro Tip: Be sure to incorporate keywords from the job description to make your resume more searchable.

BONUS: Add in a Skills section!

Besides showcasing specific areas of your expertise, this is also another great opportunity to include some of the keywords from the posted job description to help you move up in the applicant search rankings. Incorporating a skills or key competencies section also allows the recruiter to quickly assess whether or not your skill-set matches what they are searching for.

While updating your resume can seem tedious, keep in mind that it is not just a written version of your work history. It is a targeted marketing document, a sales pitch designed to sell the recruiter on selecting you as the right candidate for the interview. And who likes a dry, boring sales pitch?

These tips can help you breathe new life into your resume and create something that is appealing and will get you real results in scoring your dream job!

For more information about Julia Rock, check out Rock Career Development or follow her on Instagram.

Featured image by Getty Images

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