8 Ways to Take Your Resume to the Next Level

Even if you aren’t currently in the job market, a current and standout resume is a must. You never know when the next opportunity will present itself and your resume needs to be up-to-date and optimized for both electronic scanners and the human eye. Recruiters only spend six seconds scanning resumes, according to The Ladders, so you must be prepared to dazzle them at a moment’s notice.

You can pay hundreds of dollars to have someone craft a resume for you, or you can use these eight creative and effective tips to take your resume to the next level…

1. Focus on the first impression.

Just like a firm handshake, eye contact and a confident demeanor can make a strong first impression in an interview, your resume can begin doing the same work on paper or on screen. Ensure that your resume is appropriate for your work history: one page for every 10 years of experience, according to a Google expert, and definitely just one page for those fresh out of college. Include ample white space as well – eight-point font and half-inch margins will not get you the job, no matter how much great information you have crammed in there. Your contact information should be easy to find at the top and your resume should list your most recent work first.

2. Use the right keywords (but don’t overdo it).

Even if you are the best person for the job, you simply won’t make the cut if your resume is not properly optimized with keywords. Review job postings, LinkedIn and company websites to ensure that you use the right keywords for the job and the industry; you can update your resume for each job you apply for quickly and easily by incorporating keywords that attest to your expertise in that category.

3. Be specific.

If you want to have an effective professional resume, you need to use numbers to tell a successful story. Let hiring managers know that you increased sales by 28 percent in just two months, that you managed a team of 175 employees across eight states or that you expanded web traffic by more than 200 percent. Statistics can paint a clear picture of your strong suits.

4. Take action.

Start every sentence with a strong and powerful action verb: Managed, exceeded, landed, created, led, delivered, spearheaded, championed, initiated, piloted and developed will get you started. In addition, Emerald Career Publishing offers a comprehensive list of action verbs ideal for resumes. Again, you can create a confident impression through the words you use.

5. Keep it simple – and skimmable.

You might be tempted to share every single win and accomplishment in your resume. Don’t. You can elaborate further in your cover letter and interviews. Rather, keep job summaries to about four bullets or less and make it easy for someone to quickly skim and review your resume. Essentially, your resume is a tool to take you to the next step – the interview – and it should focus on your key accomplishments, not everything you’ve done since tenth grade.

6. Showcase your connections.

Highlight your social media accounts and personal or work blog, if applicable, to make it easy for companies to check out your work and to highlight your comfort with technology platforms. Even better, you can share recommendations on LinkedIn from previous clients and contacts that support the skills and work you include on your resume. 

7. Make your contact information prominent.

Too often, a resume becomes a wall of text and all of that text seems to blend together. You don’t want your contact information to fade into the background of your resume, you want it to be the star. Remember, the goal of a resume is to get you an interview. You won’t be hearing anything from hiring managers if they can’t easily find your contact information.

8. Think outside the box.

Employers like to see individuals that are determined, unique, and creative. If your resume looks the same as all the other applicants’, the employer may get the wrong impression of you. Beyond cataloging your professional career, your resume should give a bit of insight into your personality. This doesn’t necessarily have to be said but rather shown. For example, use the colors, font, and even the paper to give an insight into who you are. 

Finally, it goes without saying that you should carefully proofread and spellcheck your resume before sending it out. Enclose a relevant and well-written cover letter and track your success in terms of landing interviews, updating your resume as your career evolves.