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.

Getty Images

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 Nix the outdated resume sections.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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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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