Whether you lost your job during the pandemic, looking to switch careers, or just a need for a new challenge, getting a new job will always involve submitting a resume. Even if you aren’t actively searching, it’s always a good idea to update your resume periodically rather than rush through it before a fast-approaching application deadline. You always want to be prepared and not reactive.
To be honest, I always find myself reacting to job postings I come across and scrambling to tailor it to that specific posting. It might seem odd that I’d be writing this type of post, but I don’t want you to be like me and be this frantic every time you apply for a new job. Instead, by adopting the tips within this post now you’ll be better prepared should that dream job open up. Not only will you be prepared, but your resume will most likely appear more polished rather than thrown together. Your resume is the first impression you cast on a company. You should work hard to put your best foot forward.
Below are a few of my top tips for improving your resume right now that you might not have considered. I hope that you find these tips helpful and may you get that dream job even if it doesn’t open up in a few years. You’ll be ready for it.
1. Update Your Skills Section
Learned a new software in your current role? Took a coding course? Earned a new certification? These things are important to not only feature but keep up-to-date and relevant for the jobs you’re applying for, especially if you’re switching careers.
Traditionally when we think of skills to feature on a resume, we think of software, tools, and platforms. You know, the more technical skills that would impress your future employer the most. These types of skills are also almost always listed within the job description. That’s another tip for you: if the job description is requiring you to know certain skills and you do, be sure to have those prominently featured on your resume and written in the same manner they have it written on the posting (e.g. PowerPoint vs powerpoint).
So, it’s great that you’re a wiz at Excel or have experience managing project timelines in Smartsheet, but what you should also consider including on your resume are what are referred to as “soft skills.” Rather than technical skills, soft skills showcase more of your interpersonal abilities. Oftentimes in cover letters applicants will boast about their communication skills or attention to detail. It’s those types of skills that can also be listed on your resume. Other types of soft skills include: team player, adaptability, and problem-solver.
Again, if these types of skills are featured in the job description and you truly exhibit these skills, feature them on your resume! Be specific as possible as well! If there’s a way to connect your skills—both technical and soft—with accomplishments in your work experience section, you’ll be sure to impress the hiring authority.
2. Replace Your List of Job Duties with a List of Job Accomplishments
Speaking of accomplishments, it’s more appealing to showcase your top three accomplishments in each of the jobs featured on your resume rather than copying and pasting your job description. I know that, even for me, this is a new concept. I primarily list out my duties and sprinkle in some accomplishments if they’re substantial enough. And that’s the thing, IF they’re substantial enough. This one is for my ladies out there: your accomplishments—no matter how big or small—are substantial. You did the damn thing! Now share it with the world!
Back to listing your accomplishments rather than your job duties—stay with me. Nowadays, especially for experienced professionals, hiring authorities know, or at least assume, that you are able to do what you’re asked to do within your job duties. By highlighting your accomplishments, you wow the hiring authority by showing them how successful you were within the role. Here are a few examples:
Implemented new project management system that increased productivity of team members by 40%
Developed comprehensive social media strategy that generated 100K new followers within 3 months
Increased Q3 sales by 15% by proposing and implementing a more efficient checkout process
As you can see, these facts are most impressive than say, “Manages team of seven members to execute projects for major global e-commerce company.” Try it out and you’ll be surprised with how much this changes the overall tone of your resume.
Feel like you haven’t accomplished much in your roles? I bet you anything that you’re wrong. Ask your colleagues, coworkers, old bosses, friends, and family about what they remember you doing in those roles. More often than not, we forget these details because we focus so much on the day-to-day tasks. Get some outside perspective and you’ll be racking up that list of accomplishments in no time.
3. Pay Attention to Formatting
Formatting is one aspect of your resume that you might not think much about. But, to me, it should be one of the most important things you get right. A resume with haphazard formatting throughout the document can be very distracting. This might be a little harsh but if you list having great attention to detail as one of your skills and the formatting of your resume is inconsistent, it’s going to be hard to believe you.
So, what do I mean by formatting anyway? Well, it could be anything from your font, your font size, whether you bold or italicize certain pieces of information, spacing, etc. It’s the everything! Every little decision you make contributes to the overall design of your resume. Even if you use a resume template on Word (which is totally okay!), take note of the formatting choices that were established and make sure you follow them consistently throughout your resume. If you’re the one making the decisions, make note of each decision you make and consistently apply them throughout. Did I mention be consistent? Wasn’t sure if I made that clear enough (haha).
What might make this easier for you is to write our your entire resume out first in basic font. Get the organization down and then start adding in flair afterwards. You can then see how one formatting decision will impact the entire document (i.e. making your work experience dates bold, italicizing secondary information, etc.).
Whatever you decide in terms of formatting, just keep it consistent (just had to make sure I said it one more time)! Nothing makes me cringe more than 4 different fonts and the lack of cohesion. Again, it might be because I’m a creative and we pay attention to these types of things probably more so than others. But, trust me that it will make your resume appear more polished and appealing to hiring authorities.
4. Research Current Resume Trends for Your Industry
Do you need a creative resume? Are you able to get by with a standard resume? Do you really need an objective statement? The answers to these questions vary depending on which industry you’re trying to get hired in. This step is particularly important if you switching careers especially from creative to non-creative and vice versa.
Why are there different resume trends for each industry anyway?
If you’re a creative, can’t you just submit a regular resume and then point them towards your portfolio?
Why can’t you have a creative resume even if you’re “just” an accountant?
It’s easy to see why a creative would want to have an equally creative resume because they want to portray their personal branding. As far as more traditional careers, I honestly don’t have a problem with an accountant having a creative resume. I would just make sure the design was still neutral enough to not ruffle any suits. You’ll surely stand out in a sea of generic resume templates. I’ve oftentimes received compliments on my resume design, which is great and all as long as a job offer comes with the compliment. You feel me?
No matter what your resume looks like, you should also look into if there are standard sections that need to be included such as an objective statement. Even though I’ve personally retired my objective statement section probably 10 years ago now, there are still some industries that expect it. So just be sure that you’re not standing out for all the wrong reasons.
BONUS TIP: Check Spelling
Yup, you heard me! And no, I don’t mean running a simple spell check on Word. We all know that thing misses a lot. I want you to actually read through your resume and make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. I know it’s tedious but didn’t you say you had great attention to detail? Don’t fumble an opportunity simply because you neglected this step. I’m just looking out for you.
Now that your resume has been updated, go get that dream job and tag me (@lisatothemarie) when you get it!