If you’re like most people, you hear the word “resume” and let out an exhausted groan. I totally get it—resumes can be a pain.
Condensing all of your skills and professional experience into a document that’s incredibly scannable and easy to read—without 0.2 margins and size 6 font? Well, let’s just say it’s a challenge.
However, the key is to not get overwhelmed by your document. How? Well, try getting everything out on paper, and then work on polishing it up. That’s much easier than trying to make each line perfect right from the start.
Are you already to the polishing step? Great—the hardest part is over! So, here are five quick things you can do to improve your resume right now.
1. Remove Irrelevant Information
Since you spent your time essentially dumping all of your information onto those pages, it’s time to weed through and get rid of all of that stuff that truly doesn’t matter. Ideally, you’d like your resume to be one page—meaning you don’t have extra real estate to waste on pointless and irrelevant information.
Your high school extracurricular activities? Get rid of them. That line about your GPA? Delete it. That classic phrase that goes something like, “References available upon request”? Hit the backspace key. Most hiring managers assume that you’ll have references to offer if you’re asked—so there’s no point in wasting page space on that filler line.
You want every single line of your resume to be powerful. So, get rid of anything that doesn’t make you seem like an impressive and qualified candidate. Your resume doesn’t need to detail your entire life story—it just needs to showcase your professional highlights.
2. Check for Quantifiable Achievements
It’s all too easy to fill your resume with all sorts of buzzwords that hold very little meaning. And, I won’t even deny that those keywords are important.
However, you don’t want your resume to be all fluff and no substance. This is why it’s important to include several quantifiable achievements. So, comb back through your document and look for places where you can add some hard facts and statistics.
Instead of saying something soft and vague like, “Worked as a core member of the sales team,” you’ll want to state something more powerful like, “Grew sales by 25% in the first quarter.” Including those numbers makes the statement much more impactful by proving you not only know how to talk the talk—you can also walk the walk.
3. Tailor It
I hate to sound like a total wet blanket, but it’s imperative that you tailor your resume for every single position that you apply for. Yes, I know it’s a total pain to adjust a document that you’ve already spent so much time on. But, if you’re aiming to seem like the most qualified candidate for the position, then you need to make sure that your resume highlights exactly what the hiring manager is seeking.
This process doesn’t need to be anything overly complicated. Start by taking a look at the description of the specific job you’re applying for and pull out keywords and the most important skills they’re searching for. Then, take a look at your own resume. Make sure that those keywords are included in your own document. And, those skills? If they’re things you actually possess, then you need to make sure that they’re adequately emphasized in your document. Highlight them in our “key skills” section, and move any related bulletpoints toward the top of each job description so that they’re spotted first.
These changes seem small—and, in reality, they are! But, they can have a big impact on where your resume ends up in the pile.
4. Do the “Skim Test”
When you spend so much time agonizing over your resume, you’d love to think that hiring managers spend hours admiring each and every bullet point and sentence. However, that’s not the case. In fact, the average hiring manager spends just six seconds scanning your resume before deciding which pile you should be put in.
Needless to say, you need to make sure your resume not only incredibly easy to read—but easy to skim. Ensure that your name and contact information are in big, bold letters at the top of the document. Next, scan through to confirm that your eyes easily catch on your past employers and job titles. Finally, continue scanning your document to make sure that you can easily spot your education and special skills sections.
These are important portions that nearly every hiring manager will glance for. And, if they aren’t easy to spot within those six seconds? Well, you’re bound to head straight to the wastebasket.
You might think your resume is flawless—but you’d be shocked at how many different typos and errors your eyes are completely skipping over. When you’ve spent so much time on a document, you become too close to it to pick up on those things. For some reason, your brain sees what it wants to.
So, you need to go through your resume several times to make sure you’ve addressed all of those pesky slipups. My favorite tip? Read your resume backwards. Reading in such an unnatural way forces you to focus on each word—making you that much more likely to catch those embarrassing blunders.
There you have it! Five ways to polish up your resume. And, now that we’ve broken it down, it doesn’t seem that overwhelming, right? So, go ahead! Open up that document and get started. You’ll be glad you did it!