There’s always room for improvement! But so often, the people we meet just don’t have the time that’s necessary to bring their Resume up to scratch. Spending a couple of hours once a year updating your Resume and LinkedIn profile will pay dividends in the long run, and there are lots of simple small changes you can make today.
Taking time out to really clean up your Resume prior to beginning the job search process can pay huge dividends with your results. If you are applying for new roles and not hearing back, make some of these quick small changes to ensure your resume is catching recruiters’ eyes.
- Correct errors: Use the spelling and grammar checker in whatever application you’ve used to create your document to pick up errors, but make sure you read and re-read your application to pick up mistakes.
- Read it out loud: Printing out your Resume and reading it out loud helps more easily identify mistakes that may slip through the automated spell checker, or when reviewing content on a screen. It also helps you to identify clunky/hard to read sentences. Better yet, have someone else review it for you.
- Save it as a PDF: If your resume is in any other format, you can’t guarantee it will be viewed as you see it. Often the formatting looks fine on your screen, but doesn’t if opened by someone with a different software system. Saving as a PDF prevents this issue and ensures your document appears in a consistent way regardless of the system used.
- Name your file: Change the name of your Resume to <first name> <last name> Resume. That way, recruiters can quickly and easily identify you and your relevant material.
- Ensure readability: Use a common, clean font that is easy to read. Increase line spacing and font size if space allows. Add headings, sub-headings and bullet points and ensure formatting is consistent and pleasant to the eye. Consider adding some colour to make your format pop, and use the same design for your resume and cover letter to make your ‘brand’ consistent.
- Clarify content: The first person to review your resume might not be as knowledgeable about what you do as you are. It could be an assistant or a recruiter with general, not specific industry knowledge – so make it readable, relevant, and interesting regardless of the reader’s level of expertise.
- Include social links: Include links to your LinkedIn profile and other professional social media pages. Recruiters will search for and find you on social media regardless of how complete your profiles are, so optimising these and then including links just makes it easier for them to do their job.
- Activate hyperlinks: It’s likely that your resume will be read on a screen, so by making your email address, LinkedIn and other social profile links clickable – you’ll ensure its easy for the recruiter to learn more about you.
- Exclude irrelevant information: Since it’s illegal for employers to consider certain aspects when reviewing your application – you should delete them. This includes your gender, date of birth, marital status, and religion.
- Delete your high school information: Unless you finished high school in the last few years and you have very little work experience, there’s no need to include it.
- Place education after experience: Again, unless you’re a very recent graduate, chances are your recent work experience has more bearing on whether or not you’re right for the role. While recruiters might want to know you have a degree, it’s often not the most important aspect.
- Update your key skills: Ensure your skills and personal attributes are grouped under a section called ‘key skills’ or ‘key capabilities’. Remove anything outdated and ensure your skills match the requirements of the roles you are applying for.
- Remove acronyms: You shouldn’t assume that recruiters will understand what you’re talking about. Always spell out acronyms regardless of how common they are within your industry.
- Get rid of clutter: Unless you are a graphic designer, keep it simple. Remove photos and busy visual elements which usually just distract from the necessary information. Use bold, larger font sizes, dividers, and bullet points to delineate new sections and highlight specific content.
- Consolidate multiple positions in one company: If you held multiple positions in the same company, but they were similar, group them. For example, if you were promoted from an assistant to a manager – list the role as manager and state “promoted from assistant in <month> <year>” as an achievement. If the roles were quite different, list them separately. If you held several ‘acting’ roles – list them as bullets under your substantive or ‘regular’ role.
- Leave out irrelevant history: As a general rule, go back approximately ten years with detail, and then only include a brief summary of previous roles if highly relevant.
- Reduce lines that only contain one word: Go through your Resume and find ways to eliminate lines with only one word in them. Try editing previous lines to prevent this happening. It makes the document look cleaner and frees up extra space.
- Adjust the tense: Make sure tense and context is consistent. Generally, previous roles should be described in past tense and current roles in current tense, but whatever way you choose, just make it consistent.
- Focus on achievements: Clearly identify your value by focusing on how your company benefited by you doing what you did. This shows a potential employer how they might benefit by recruiting you.
- Quantify accomplishments: Where you can, include numbers and percentages or other ways to quantify achievements (estimates are OK but always be prepared to back these up in an interview if asked).
- Check punctuation: Again consistency is key – for easy reading as well as to show professionalism. Check the use of full stops, bullets, commas, colons, semi-colons, headings, sub-headings etc. and ensure consistency throughout.
- Ensure content is up-to-date: Make sure your most current information is referenced, including recently completed or in progress study, new awards and role accomplishments, newly developed skills, presentations you’ve given, or articles you’ve had published.
- Ask for help: Ask a few friends or professional contacts if you can view their resume for inspiration. Alternatively, ask them if they’ll review yours and provide you with their feedback.
Alternatively, why not enlist the help of a professional resume writer who can help you maximise your experience and qualifications to give yourself a better chance at your dream job? Our Resume Writers have been selectively hand-picked from around the country. They are professional writers with extensive experience writing resumes, cover letters, bios and selection criteria responses for both the public and private sectors.