Revising Your Resume in 7 Steps
Photo by Christin Hume
There are many ways to make your resume shine a little brighter. Take another look at your resume and consider these editing tips:
7 Ways to Improve Your Resume
1. Tailor to the position
While you may have a boilerplate resume that serves as a good foundation, your resume should always be tailored to the specific position to which you’re applying. Make sure to incorporate keywords from the job ad or the industry at-large and to think through which aspects of your own job history are most applicable to the position. It’s especially important to incorporate keywords from the specific job ad as employers turn increasingly to AI technology to process incoming job applications. Without the inclusion of keywords, your resume isn’t likely to get past the first round of review.
2. Prioritize your most relevant experiences and skills
By the time you’ve completed graduate school, you’ll likely have had many different experiences and have built a wide array of skills. Since your resume is only 1 page long, some experiences will have to be trimmed. Prioritize your most relevant experiences and skills by referring back to the job ad. What experiences and skills seem most desirable to this employer?
Additionally, you can prioritize certain sections of information by putting them earlier in the document. For example, you might consider moving up the education section of your resume if the position to which you are applying requires an advanced degree.
3. Use bullet points
In describing your work experience, use bullet points rather than paragraphs. This helps make your resume easier to scan. The only exception to this rule would be your summary statement (if you decide to include one), which can take the form of either bullet points or a brief paragraph.
4. Diversify your verbs
Keep in mind that each of your bullet points should start with an action verb that conveys a particular skill. Try not to repeat your verbs as you will miss out on the opportunity to promote something new about yourself. Also, try to avoid generic verbs (e.g., “worked” or “assisted”) in favor of more specific ones (e.g., “created” or “collaborated”). Generic verbs may make it unclear what you’ve accomplished, while well-chosen, specific verbs can really help highlight your skills and achievements.
5. Focus on measurable results
Try your hardest to quantify accomplishments in your work experience. For example, rather than simply saying you increased social media engagement, try to give the specific percentage by which it increased. If you don’t have exact numbers, it’s still better to mention that engagement increased rather than only stating that you managed social media accounts. You want to communicate to your potential employer exactly how skilled you are.
6. Be simple and consistent with your formatting
Keep your formatting simple and be consistent with it. In the case of bolded font, italics, and underlining, less is often more. Use these formats carefully, and make sure that whatever pattern you start carries through your entire document. For example, if you italicize a position title, all position titles should then be italicized. If you bold a section heading, all section headings should be bolded.
It’s okay to play with your margins and font size. However, make sure that your document has some white space—documents with margin to margin text can feel overloaded. Also, don’t use any font size smaller than 10 or 11 points. If you think you need narrower margins and a smaller font size to fit everything, think again. Instead, revisit how you might better prioritize your most relevant experiences and skills by being more concise and trimming irrelevant information.
7. Have someone else proofread your work
Keep in mind that every document you submit in an application serves as a writing sample for your employer. You need to make sure that your resume is flawless. Since you’ve probably read it over many times yourself, it’s important to have someone with fresh eyes read it through one more time. Even if you’re confident in your own proofreading and editing skills, another person may catch mistakes you missed.