The best way to build a strong resume is to update it regularly, not just when you’re looking for a new job. Whether you're applying for your first job or your fourteenth, we have nine tips to ensure your resume is updated, concise, and well-formatted.
Use only the words you need.
You want your resume to fit as many of your accomplishments as possible while still being pleasant to read. Clear, concise language will help. WordRake identifies verbosity and suggests ways to tighten your writing, allowing you to say more with fewer words – and show potential employers you can convey your point succinctly and persuasively.
Tailor your resume to each job.
A strong resume for one company isn’t necessarily a strong resume for another, even if both companies are hiring for the same role. Identify words and phrases from the job description and the organization’s values to mention in your resume. Certain components of your past jobs and volunteer experience will appeal more to some employers than others. It adds time to the application process, but will lead to more interviews and serves as good baseline preparation for those interviews.
Details, especially numbers, will grab a hiring manager’s attention. “Implemented a purchasing process to save employees time” is not as compelling as “Saved 70 hours of employee time annually by removing purchasing process redundancies.” Hiring managers want to see percentages and results, not buzzwords.
Use action verbs.
Lively, precise verbs allow organizations to imagine you performing different tasks and succeeding in the role they want to fill. “Improved customer satisfaction by 15 percent through a tiered rewards program” has some specificity, but “Designed, tested, and launched a tiered rewards program, improving customer satisfaction by 15 percent” tells a company what steps you took to improve outcomes.
Choose two fonts maximum.
You want to use different font sizes to get people’s attention and make different sections of your resume clear, but using several fonts distracts recruiters and looks inconsistent. Choose two fonts – most sources prefer sans serif – and double check you use them for the same purpose throughout your resume. Resume components like this show employers you’re detail-oriented more than writing “detail-oriented” ever will.
Update it regularly.
Set calendar reminders to update your resume at least twice a year. Even if you hold the same job title at the same company for five years, your projects will vary. It’s also far less daunting to prepare to reenter the job market if your resume is current. Look at old performance reviews to recall past accomplishments.
Keep a longer resume with your full job and extracurricular history.
This will allow you to choose jobs you want to mention in each application. A volunteer position you stopped a year ago may not be on your most current resume, but that specific work might align well with a potential employer’s mission. Tweaking something you’ve already written will be easier than starting from nothing, especially if you haven’t held the position for a year or two.
Avoid clichés such as quick learner, team player, creative, passionate, and dedicated.
These descriptors are so overused they have become meaningless. Rather than use one of them to describe yourself, write a bullet point that illustrates that word. Instead of using “team player,” write a sentence that describes working 18-hour days during a strike to provide the media with your company’s up-to-the-minute information.
Try not to reference your age, sex, disability, race, national origin, or religious beliefs.
Businesses may not discriminate, but an organization or role that alludes to someone’s race, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion might trigger unconscious bias affecting a reviewer’s opinion. Rather than mention the mission of the organization where you volunteered, highlight the work you did for the organization.
No resume tip will help you land an interview if the hiring manager doesn't want to read your resume. Write clearly and create more reader-friendly white space with WordRake. Try it on your latest draft for free at wordrake.com/trial.
About the Author
Caroline Engle is WordRake’s Marketing Communications Specialist. She convinced WordRake to hire her as an intern after placing in editing competitions and writing a novel in a month. When she isn’t editing or writing copy, coordinating conference logistics, or helping improve WordRake’s functionality, she’s reading, going on ten-mile walks, or looking up flight prices. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.