Professional Development: Boost Your Resume

By Daniel Johnson

Writing a resume seems like a simple thing to do. I mean, how hard can listing out your experiences be? Yet when you stop to think about how important a resume is, it becomes clearer that the task is not as minor as one might think. In many cases, your resume is the first impression an organization will have of you before meeting you in person, and they can glean a lot about you from a quick glance at the document. Not only will they be looking to see how your experiences match up with their requirements, but they can also learn about your attention to detail, writing abilities, organization skills, etc. With that in mind, I want to share some resume tips I have picked up throughout my professional and collegiate careers.

Many of the people reading your resume will be reading dozens if not hundreds at a time, and they want to move through the stack as quickly as possible. The easier you make that process, the better your chances of a favorable review. ALWAYS be consistent with how you format to show that you pay attention to detail and are not lazy! Here are a few tips to help you do that.

Formatting Tips:

  • Section Headings (add others as needed):
    • Profile/Skills Overview – two to three bullet points that highlight key experiences
    • Education – always include toward the beginning and add your major
    • Related Experience – begin this section with your most relevant experience
  • English speakers are trained to read from left to right and top to bottom. That means you want to place your most relevant info as close to the top-left as you can
  • You can arrange things in a way that makes the most important things stand out. I always recommend keeping things in reverse chronological order, but there are ways to do that while still showcasing your most important experiences first
  • Use bold and italics selectively – their purpose is to highlight key components. I always recommend putting bold in section headings and italicizing positions
  • If you have three bullet points put the most important ones first and last, don’t bury them in the middle

The most important thing to note is that you want to do your absolute best to match up your experiences with the required/suggested skills needed for the job you’re seeking. If you’re applying to a general position, highlight your most important achievements. Even if your experience isn’t directly related, there’s a big chance that you’ve done something in the past that at least loosely relates to the position you’re seeking. I recommend listing out your experiences and then matching different tasks you completed in those experiences with the job description. You can get creative about how you present your experiences to maximize the recruiter’s interest.

General Tips:

  • Don’t use full sentences; sum it up in a few bulleted phrases
  • Quantifiable outcomes stand out most! Saying you “increased customer base by 47%” is much stronger than “increased the number of customers”
  • Using action verbs like “created” or “organized” helps you to convey that these were tasks that you accomplished as opposed to sitting on the sidelines while others were accomplishing things around you
  • Get creative but don’t lie! If you wouldn’t be able to back it up in an interview, then you should not put it on your resume
  • Don’t include high school information unless it’s relevant to the position you’re seeking

Your resume is an extension of who you are. It might seem like a simple thing to write, but you want to pay close attention to how you market yourself. Use these resume tips to structure, organize, and optimize your resume for that job you’ve been wanting to apply for.

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