15 Quick Fixes to Improve Your Resumé
Your resumé has one of the shortest lifespans on earth. A potential employer takes less than 15 seconds to determine if she wants to keep your resumé on her desk (or in the trash). These tips help you hustle past an initial bad reaction and get you to the interview chair without breaking a sweat.
1. Watch Your Tense.
All past work experience should be in the simple past tense – “I excelled” (not “I had been excelling” or “I have excelled”). Your current position should be in present tense absent a specific past instance (i.e. “I wrote a special report.”; “I write reports.”)
2. Keep Your Spelling in Check.
A potential employer takes less than 15 seconds to determine if he wants to keep your resumé on his desk (or in the trash). Spelling/grammar errors are a one-way ticket to that trash can. If you can’t present a single-page resumé without errors, will your other work be as sloppy? Employer’s guess: yes.
3. Keep it Brief.
Be concise and clear about what you’ve accomplished in strong bullet points. Then go back and delete unnecessary words. Then go back and delete some more. You get the point.
4. Test Drive It.
Ask friends, family, co-workers, or fellow students to read over it. Want more professional eyes? Ask a Professional at Unfold.
5. Remove Acronyms.
Company-specific or school-specific acronyms (i.e. the TALF Award) should be spelled out. Even better, delete them, and write out what you accomplished (i.e. Award for Highest Grade in Mathematics).
6. Delete Your Objective.
It’s unnecessary and usually tedious. Only include this if you can establish a kick-ass brand for yourself, and you don’t need the space for something else.
7. Consider Adding Hyperlinks.
Most resumés are received via email, opened in PDF, and viewed entirely on a screen. If you can link to your LinkedIn, Blog, or Flickr portfolio tactfully and with purpose, it can be a unique way to stand out.
8. Remove “References Available Upon Request.”
Just do it. Employers will ask for them if they want them.
9. Always Save in PDF.
Without saving your fancy fonts and formatting as a PDF, your beautiful resumé will churn out a jumble of words on whatever format your potential employer opens.
10. Delete Everything Irrelevant.
You don’t need to list every internship you’ve ever had or all the awards you’ve won since high school. Focus on what’s relevant to the potential employer.
11. Keep it to One Page.
Unless you have 10+ years of experience, your resumé should not be more than one page.
12. Bulk Up Your Skills.
Make room to show off your skill set apart from your experience. Employers love to find interview conversation starters here. So give them something to talk about – things like marathon finishes, certifications, and language skills.
13. Vary Your Font Styles & Sizes.
Make it readable. Ask your parents to look at it. Do they need to squint? Or have trouble seeing what position you held at company X? Take note.
14. Add Numbers. Then Add More.
Avoid generalizations and mundane daily tasks. Use numbers and statistics to give powerful, proven points of past career leadership or success (i.e. “Finished Q1 with $900,000 in upsell revenue”; not “Proven high sales performer”).
15. Drive. Not Driven.
Use the active, not passive tense. It’s powerful, and it creates the impression that you are confident in your capabilities.