How to optimize your resume for job hunting

March 22, 2017

If you’re looking for a job, you know your resume is extremely important. But it can be difficult to know if you’ve put together a compelling resume that will land interviews. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Start by brainstorming every accomplishment, role, and responsibility you can recall at each position you’ve held. Include significant volunteer positions or unusual, noteworthy experiences. This document is for your own personal use, so it doesn’t have to be fancy. Update it regularly to make it easy to refresh your resume.
  • Keep your resume to one page. There are very few exceptions where a longer resume is appropriate, such as academic positions that require a list of publications.
  • Stick to the tried and true boring font of Times New Roman 12 point. The only exception is if you are applying for a job where creativity is important – and even then, think hard about it. You want to stand out because of your accomplishments and qualifications, not an attention-grabbing stunt.
  • Always be honest. While there are ways of phrasing your experiences and achievements to highlight the positive, you must fairly represent yourself. If an employer or prospective employer discovers that you lied or misled them, your credibility may never recover.
  • Incorporate data whenever possible, and focus on your accomplishments instead of your responsibilities. Employers don’t just want to know what you’ve done; they want to know that you did it well. For example, instead of saying that you oversaw a sales group, say that you “led a sales team of five to increase sales by 50%.”
  • In most cases, you can omit the objective statement, your GPA from school, and that “references are available.” A well-written resume makes your objective clear, your GPA is irrelevant except in certain situations (such as applying for a law clerk position right out of law school), and employers assume that references are available.
  • Consider including your LinkedIn profile URL. Many, if not most, employers will check your LinkedIn profile, and including the link makes it easy for them to find you rather than someone else who has the same name.
  • Structure your resume according to your experience level. Entry-level candidates should start with their education, then list their experience in chronological order, including work and volunteer experience. More experienced candidates should opt for a functional resume that lists achievements, experience and skills in the order of importance and relevance to the position sought.
  • Tailor your resume for each job that you apply for. That does mean you will need to adapt your resume to best suit each new position you seek. It will take more time, but make you a more attractive candidate. Edit your work history summaries to match the responsibilities in the job listing as much possible. Be sure to use keywords pulled from the job description, including any specified skills, knowledge or experience.
  • Proofread carefully. And have someone you trust proofread your resume just as carefully. Keep in mind that any minor error like a misspelling can get your resume tossed into the reject pile.

Send this to a friend