Improve your resume with these strategies to generate more interviews—and ultimately job offers.
As a resume writer with 16+ years of experience, I know it’s critical to write a resume that is visually appealing, keyword-rich, and accomplishment-based to highlight the value you can bring to an organization. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Ten Tips to Improve Your Resume Immediately
1. Visually appealing resumes get readers’ attention
You want to make sure that the reader knows you are a mature and respectable individual, who will be an asset to their company or organization. The appearance of your resume and cover letter speak volumes about the person writing it. Use a crisp, appealing design that looks like its rightful place should be in an employer or hiring manager’s hand. Ask, “Just by looking at these documents, would I hire myself?”
2. Only include relevant content with keywords and accomplishments.
Everything you write in your resume and cover letter must also sound professional. Use appropriate words and phrases and avoid ambiguous words such as “thing(s)”. If you are uncertain how to express yourself, ask someone else for their opinion, or try completely rewriting the sentence or paragraph until you get it right. If you are applying for a management position, you must make your document sound as though a manager is the one writing it and applying for the job.
3. It needs to stand out.
Do not use the regular old Microsoft Word Resume Template! Many people get caught in this trap. Yes, it may contain a good basic outline to start with, but if everyone uses the same template, then no one will stand out from the crowd, including you. There is nothing wrong with using a template, but find an uncommon (yet correct) one and make it your own. Play with the font, borders, spacing, etc. to make it eye-catching.
4. Improve your resume by showing the VALUE you can bring.
Even though it may seem like you are selling your resume and cover letter first, you are selling yourself first and foremost. Your resume must look and sound appealing, and you need to make sure that you come across as a desirable candidate. While concentrating on developing an attractive design, ensure that you include all pertinent information: education, credentials, work experience, professional development, etc. Assess the company’s job advertisement, if available, and make certain that you have touched on all required qualifications in your cover letter.
5. Double check spelling and grammar.
Nothing looks worse on a job application document than someone who either can’t spell or at least use a spell and grammar check. If you’re a person who struggles with spelling and proper grammar, it may be a wise idea to purchase a pocket dictionary, thesaurus, grammar guide, or have it proofread. If you are attempting to use a “big word”, but are not sure if you have incorporated it appropriately, don’t use it. A hiring manager can pick up right away if someone is trying to impress, but failing to do so.
6. Remain consistent between the resume and cover letter.
If you decide to use a border in one document, you must use it in the other. The same goes for formatting: layout, design, color, font style, font size, etc. Make sure that all job application documents have the same overall layout. There needs to be uniformity. Consistency will help ensure that your documents will stay together and attract the employer’s eye. Furthermore, it demonstrates your keen eye for detail and ability to remain consistent.
7. Proofread a second and third time.
It never hurts to go over your documents more than once; it gives you another opportunity to improve your resume. Sometimes you may have missed something the first time, but will have caught it the next go around. After proofreading it the first time, take some time away from the document to give your eyes and brain a break. Come back about an hour later and re-read your resume and cover letter. You may be surprised at how many errors you missed on the first read-through. Also, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a friend or family member. Having someone else read your documents is another excellent way to catch mistakes.
8. List all contact information on your resume and cover letter.
This point may also seem like a no-brainer, but it is amazing to learn how many people forget to put vital contact information on their resume and cover letter. How is the hiring manager supposed to communicate with you? At the top of the page write down your full name as you would like it to appear (first, middle, last name; or first, middle initial, last name). The second line should include a home address, phone numbers (home, work, cell – whichever numbers you would like to use), and an email address. Triple check these details. Make your name bigger and bolder than the rest of the information. Draw a line after your contact information to separate it from the remainder of the document.
9. Incorporate borders to draw positive attention.
An excellent way to improve your resume and cover letter to stand out above the rest is making it different than others. Use a solid, double, or triple line to go around your entire document. You may also use a dashed (- – -) border or something a bit fancier. However, make sure that you do not use a childish or immature border (i.e. palm trees, pieces of cake, film strip) or one that does not suit your job target. If you are applying for an artistic job, you can get a bit more creative, while still keeping it professional. Remember, the border should not draw attention away from the content of your resume or cover letter.
10. If you want to improve your resume, hire a professional resume writer, like Candace.
You may think to yourself:
“Why should I invest to have someone else write my resume and cover letter?”
ANSWER: If that professionally written resume and cover letter lands you your dream job, it would be worth the investment, RIGHT?
Why take the chance of submitting a sub-par document, only to have it ignored, leaving you with a lost opportunity? If you are 100% confident in your documents, then send them off immediately.
You can review our resume and cover letter samples here.