Your resume is your first opportunity to sell yourself to recruiters and hiring managers. It can also be your last if your resume is outdated or too thin. Here are five tips that will help you immediately update and beef up your resume.
1. Streamline for easy reading
You might not have given much thought to the overall structure and style of your resume, but a messy and unstructured layout often points to a messy and unprofessional candidate. As such, you need to create a well-presented resume that looks neat and professional. In order to do this, you need to ensure that there are no massive blocks of text. Be sure to use headings, sub-headings, and bullet points to help you break the text up and organize the layout effectively. You also need to choose a clear, professional font such as Cambria, Calibri, or Helvetica, and make sure it's not too big or too small. A 12-point font is recommended.
2. Cut the fluff
If you haven't updated your resume in a while, you might look back and realize that you were trying to fill the space with a lot of irrelevant information. You might also find that it's packed with clichés. Now is your chance to go through and cut any unnecessary fluff words. This means removing any skills, qualifications, or hobbies that aren't relevant to your target roles. It's also a good idea to remove clichéd phrases such as “passionate team player” or “proven track record.” Remember, your resume should ideally be just one page long, and never longer than two pages.
3. Add facts and figures
The best way to show recruiters and hiring managers how you can add real value to their organizations is by including facts and figures from your time in school or from your work experience. Some examples of these facts and figures could be:
- Trained seven new team members during my summer role as a …
- Graduated third in my class …
- Voted ‘Volunteer of The Year' during my time with …
Including examples of your key achievements and quantifying these not only helps recruiters and hiring managers see why you're a good fit but also helps you stand out from the competition. And with more recruiters looking at candidates’ social media presence, you can also document your achievements on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or even your own blog.
4. Triple-check your spelling and grammar
Although it might sound basic, you'd be surprised how many people still get this wrong. You need to re-read your resume several times and check it thoroughly for any spelling or grammatical errors. This can instantly improve the quality of your resume and ensure that you don't look sloppy or unprofessional. Keep in mind that spellcheck doesn't catch everything. Still, an online grammar and spellchecker should be your first line of defense against mistakes. Second, have someone else read over your resume for you. Third, read it backwards, from end to beginning. Looking at it from a different perspective might allow you to catch something you otherwise wouldn't have.
5. Gain new skills and qualifications through online courses and volunteer work
Your resume can be drastically improved by the addition of new qualifications, skills, and experiences. Although you might still be studying or have only just graduated, don't let your education stop there. Consider taking an online course related to your chosen field (and if you do begin to take a course, you can certainly add that to your resume before you complete it: “Currently enrolled in …”). Alternatively, see if you can gain experience through an internship or volunteer work. Nonprofits and NGOs are always looking for volunteers to further their causes. This can boost your skillset and allow you to contribute to meaningful causes. Of course, it will also give you more to shout about on your resume.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of Job Description Library and StandOut CV, two leading UK careers advice websites. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.