A good resume is a work in progress, and you could update it forever. But who wants to do that? If your job search is on a time crunch and need to update your resume STAT, just keep three things in mind: make it clear, compelling, and error-free.
1. Use bullets to describe distinct responsibilities of the role
- Do you explain your previous job descriptions in bullet form? Each bullet should describe a separate achievement associated with that role. Pro-tip: Never use paragraphs. They’re harder to read and make your resume unnecessarily longer!
- Do you have ~3-5 bullet points per role? Having too many or too few shows that you didn’t take the time to organize your thoughts properly.
2. Use qualitatively and quantitatively strong language
- Did you use strong action verbs (e.g. collaborated > helped; composed > put together)
- Are your bullets results-oriented?
- Have you quantified your impact? Let the hiring manager know the real outcome of your work. This shows that you can make a measurable impact at your next gig.
- For Customer Success: include communication and support experience (e.g.. ZenDesk, email, phone etc). You can even include how many tickets you answered daily and explain some strategies you used to resolve issues and increase response time.
- For Sales: include buzzwords like “cold-calling” and “prospecting” if applicable. Specify the kind of sales you’ve done (e.g. SaaS, enterprise, consultative) and include the revenue you generated.
- For Marketing: let the hiring manager know if you’ve done social, e-mail, e-commerce, affiliate and/or multi-channel work. Share campaign metrics such as ROI and acquisition rates. What tactics did you use to hit or exceed your goals? Include those too.
3. Get your tenses straight
- For current roles, did you use present tense (e.g. create, support, pitch)?
- For previous roles, did you use past tense (e.g. generated, led, presented)?
4. Include some interests if you have them!
- Do you have hobbies outside of work? If so, share them if you have the space to do so.
- Don’t be afraid to be a little descriptive! Instead of just listing “reading” as a hobby, add some detail. You just never know when you’ll interview with someone who majored in Classics and wants to know more about your interest in Ancient Greek poetry ;)
5. Use consistent formatting
- Are dates specified consistently for each role? (ex. Month Year - Month Year)
- Is font style the same throughout?
- Aside from your name, which should be extra visible, is font size consistent throughout?
- Did you order each section reverse chronologically? This goes for your work experience section, education section, and whatever other ones you decide to include (e.g. volunteer experience, relevant projects, leadership experience, etc.)
Hiring managers spend ~6 seconds reading (well, skimming) a resume. Remember, this isn’t a list of everything you’ve ever done, but rather an opportunity to highlight your most relevant experience and skills. Keep it brief!
- Does the page look healthy and filled without too much white space? If not, you can add more roles (whether professional, academic, leadership-oriented) or more details for a given role.
- Save it as a PDF to preserve formatting, since resumes in Word form can get funky. Go to “Save As” and select the .pdf extension. If you're still having trouble, you can use a PDF converter.
- Check the PDF.
- Does it appear exactly how you intended? If there’s a blank or one-line 2nd page, fix that (it happens)!
7. Perform a final sanity check
- How’s your spelling?
- Does everything sound grammatically correct when you read it out loud?
- Practically memorized your professional resume at this point? Have a friend or trusted colleague review your resume for good measure!
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