Your resume is broken. How do we know? It’s just a hunch, but it’s likely true. As recruiters, we wade through the good, the bad and the “Dear God, do they even WANT a job?!” every single day. Too many resumes fall into the latter two categories. The good news, though, is that it doesn’t take much to fix your resume before you send it out to another recruiter or hiring manager. Here’s how.
- Update your resume and LinkedIn simultaneously.
These go hand-in-hand because most recruiters and hiring managers will reference both. Add most recent work dates and specific, measurable results to both your resume and LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, link to and ask for references from the people you’ve worked with recently (here are some tips from The Muse that may help). Don’t forget to also update your traditional reference list and touch base with everyone on it to let them know they may be contacted. Finally, don’t forget to add links to your LinkedIn page on your resume, along with any other relevant professional social media or blogs. (Oh, and please clean up the rest of your social media while you’re at it. Your future employer AND your mother will thank you.)
- Lose the objective.
Decades ago, stating an objective on your resume was a must. These days, it’s a sure-fire way to date yourself and limit your options. With so many overlapping opportunities, you certainly don’t want to rule yourself out for another position at the same company if the one you’re applying for doesn’t pan out. Instead, start with a professional summary that pulls out some of your biggest strengths and measurable results and highlights them front and center (see this Glassdoor article for help).
- List accomplishments, not just job duties.
Too many resumes simply list out the job descriptions from current and past positions without going into what was actually accomplished. This is a huge mistake. Instead of describing what you’ve done, you need to illustrate how well you did it. Say you’re a software engineer who develops web-enabled systems. Perhaps explain how your work helped reduce X% of downtime, improved operating margins by X%, and eliminated delays for X number people or projects. Coming up with these results may not be easy but it’s worth it if you’re on the job hunt. Follow these helpful steps from The Muse to get started.
- Avoid embellishments.
Do an internet search for resume templates and you’ll see just about anything goes these days. Don’t get lured in to creating a resume that’s overly designed, though, unless it’s requested. Stick to one font family (see font suggestions here) and a clean, easy-to-follow format. Resist the temptation to fall back on gimmicks like perfumed paper (oh, yes, it happens), and DO NOT INCLUDE A PHOTO. Doing so can put the hiring manager in an uncomfortable position and may open them up to allegations of discrimination that could be based on race, age, weight, gender, or even attractiveness or personal style. If that’s not a problem for the employer, and they’re curious, they can always find your photo on LinkedIn. And speaking of embellishments, now’s the time to remove any lies. Stretching the truth is common, but now that background checks have gotten easier and more sophisticated, your chances of being caught are high.
- Proof read, proof read, proof read, proof read.
We say this four times because there are at least four ways in which you need to review your work for spelling, grammatical and formatting errors. First, run it through the spell checker of the program you’re using (like Word or Google Docs). Then, cross check it with an advanced program like Grammarly, which can catch even more nuanced mistakes and inconsistencies. Third, send the resume off to a friend or colleague to read through it for anything additional that may look off, including formatting errors. And, finally, re-check it yourself by reading it out loud or even reading it backwards—word by word—to take it completely out of context so you can spot even the slightest mistake (manger versus manager, for instance).
Your resume is often your first impression. Don’t make it your last impression, too. Before sending out your next one, take these steps to clean it up first.
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