1. Use a resume template
Make your resume as easy to read as possible to help hiring managers see all your qualifications. So don’t simply type your resume up in Microsoft Word and send it off. Instead, use a resume template structured to pull readers’ eyes to your most impressive achievements.
Professional resume templates include headers, bullet points, colors, and other design elements that make you appear organized and professional. Such a resume is harder to ignore than one thrown together in whatever word processor you have handy.
2. Retool your resume for every job you apply to
If you’ve been submitting the same resume with every job application, stop immediately and learn how to improve your resume by rewriting it for each position you target. Here’s why:
You’re writing to the hiring manager at the specific company you want to work for, not to your industry in general. If the employer or their applicant tracking system (ATS) doesn’t find the skills-based resume keywords they’re seeking, they’ll send your application straight to their trash folder.
So how do you determine what keywords will get your resume into the hiring manager’s interview shortlist folder? The answer is simple:
3. Write a resume introduction
Boost your resume by putting your most marketable skills in a concise introduction. Summarizing your resume in a short paragraph or bulleted list makes your resume reader-friendly and ensures your most impressive accomplishments don’t get lost at the bottom of your resume.
4. Move your most relevant achievements and skills to the top
Arrange your resume sections to get your most job-relevant selling points to the top of the page where the hiring manager is most likely to see them.
For example, if you’re a recent college graduate without much work history, add relevant coursework to your education section, and place it above your work experience section. Or if you’re changing careers, place your skills section near the top of the page to emphasize your soft skills that will help you quickly develop new hard skills needed for your target position.
5. Fill the page
Adjust the zoom on your word processor until you can see your full resume on the screen. If the text isn’t evenly spaced and filling a single page, you can improve it by:
- adjusting your resume’s margins (from ½”—1″ wide) and your resume font size (between 10.5 and 12 points)
- adding extra sections for awards, certifications, or hobbies and interests related to the job you want
- cutting text that bleeds onto a second page — you can add the cut information to your cover letter
- trying different resume templates until you find one that best fits your qualifications
6. Beef up your resume with numbers and examples
Make your resume more likely to impress hiring managers by replacing job duties with accomplishments, using data and examples for context. Adding numbers and descriptions of your skills in action gives hiring managers a clear picture of what you can do for their company.
Here’s an example of a resume work experience entry that goes from dull to dynamic when quantification and examples are added:
7. Remove unnecessary words
One way to quickly enhance your resume is by deleting unnecessary words, including:
- articles (a, an, the)
- pronouns (I, they, we)
- adverbs (words that end in “-ly”)
- bulky phrases that can be replaced with one or two words (for example, “responsible for the implementation of” can simply be “implemented”)
8. Spice up your resume with action verbs
Replacing weak words on your resume with powerful action verbs immediately improves your application.
Here are examples of how replacing weak verbs with powerful resume words energizes your resume:
9. Ask a friend to proofread
Even if you’re a professional editor, you should seek help proofreading your resume. The energy you pour into creating your application documents puts you too close to the content, and you probably don’t have the time needed to reset your perspective before you submit.
However, you can get a fresh set of eyes on your resume by asking a friend to edit. Just remember to proofread any changes your friend makes to ensure they don’t introduce new mistakes to your resume.
More resources that show you how to improve your resume
Here are more resume-writing resources to help you spruce up your resume: