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Five Tips to Revise Your Resume

The economic impact of COVID-19 is already starting to be seen around the world, with businesses closing and workers being laid off. If your job is at risk, or if you’ve already begun a job search, now is the time to revise your resume and make sure it looks as good as possible. I’ve helped a lot of people improve their resumes, and these are the five tips that I suggest you use to make your resume one that gets a second look.

1. Minimize white space

The number one thing I do when I revise a resume is to condense the information into fewer pages with less white space on the page. Many of the clients I work with have an impressive job history and set of skills, and their resume can reach lengths of five or six pages. But, lots of double-spaced pages with generous margins and ample white space won’t get a recruiter’s attention. You want your resume to look dense, yet readable. So, reduce your margins to 1” all around, use 1.0 line spacing, and combine information so that you have longer sentences and bullet points. But, this recommendation is more than just about formatting and space—rather, it’s a way to think about your experience and skills more holistically, so you can combine information to present a stronger picture of yourself as a candidate.

2. Emphasize quality over quantity

As you’re looking to reduce the number of pages of resume and make it more dense, be sure to think about the quality of your prior work, rather than just quantity. Particularly for more experienced job-seekers, many of your early jobs won’t have much relevance. So, rather than listing out every single job, its location, dates, etc, consider how you can combine multiple jobs or experiences into categories of work or skills. For instance, if you’ve got a lot of volunteer experience in a variety of nonprofits, rather than creating a separate line for each, consider listing the skills you used or gained in those, followed by the list of the nonprofit organizations in parentheses.

3. Use action verbs

Remember that your resume is a chance to show employers the knowledge, skills, and abilities that you possess and convince them that you’re capable of contributing to their organization. With that in mind, go through your resume and choose verbs that pack a punch, so called action verbs. Phrases like “duties included” and “served as” are too generic for the limited space that you have to sell your skill set. Use a list of action verbs (like this great one from Indeed.com) to better describe the work that you’ve done. If you have a specific job that you're applying for, try to match the action verbs from your own experience to any listed in the ad or job description for the position you want.

4. Use numbers

More organizations today are using data to make decisions, and you can use this to your advantage by presenting numerical evidence of your achievements in your resume. Think about how you can attach some sort of detail in numbers to the work you have done, whether that be an increase in dollars, percentages, or some other statistic. The more that you can quantify your work in your resume, the more likely a recruiter is to pay attention to it.

5. Pay attention to format

As the job market gets more competitive, your resume needs to stand out more. While the degree of creativity you use in formatting your resume depends a lot on your field (i.e., a marketing professional should pay much more attention to design than an accountant will need to), every job seeker needs to put some emphasis on formatting. Some things to consider are the style of font, font sizes, the use of bullet points, and how you organize information on the page. If you need inspiration, this article from Canva is great. For an example of a creative professional’s resume that I created, check out the image below.

Managing a job search in these uncertain times is stressful. I hope that these tips can help give you some direction as you work on your resume. And, if you need help with your job search or want more advice, contact me!

-MSD

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