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 each time you apply for a new job
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, place your education section 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 and hard skills that will help you in the new role.
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
Impress hiring managers by replacing job duties with accomplishments, and using numbers for context. Adding numbers gives hiring managers a clearer picture of what you can do for their company if hired.
Here are some examples of resume work experience bullet points that go from dull to dynamic when numbers are added:
- Shampooed and groomed dogs and cats
- Responsible for ordering grooming supplies
- Shampooed and groomed 30+ dogs and cats daily
- Reduced monthly grooming supply costs by 15% through negotiation with new suppliers
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 because they more clearly explain your past job duties.
Here are some examples of the difference between using bland, weak verbs, and instead opting for powerful action verbs on your resume:
- Made new digital filing system, simplifying input process to save 9 hours per month
- Managed team of 5 direct reports
- Innovated new digital filing system, simplifying input process to save 9 hours per month
- Motivated team of 5 direct reports
9. Ask a friend to proofread your application
Even if you’re a professional editor, you should get someone to proofread your resume for common resume mistakes. The energy you pour into creating your application puts you too close to the content, and you probably don’t have the time needed to reset your perspective before you submit everything.
That’s why you should get a fresh set of eyes on your resume. Just remember to proofread any changes your friend makes to ensure they don’t accidentally mess anything up!
More resources that show you how to improve your resume
Here are more resume-writing resources to help you spruce up your resume before sending out job applications: