Give Your Resume A Spring Cleaning

You have mere seconds to grab an employer's attention.

Give Your Resume A Spring Cleaning

You have mere seconds to grab an employer's attention, and if your resume sucks, you won't be nabbing any seconds. Learning how to make a good resume is well worth your energy.

Most resumes could use some fine tuning and polishing, particularly if you are thinking of a promotion or going on the job hunt. If you are going to graduate in a few months, your job search needs to start now. Throughout the year, take an inventory of what you have done over the past year. "You may have met some of your short-term goals, given new responsibilities, completed a course or two and need to add them to your resume," adds career coach Daisy Wright, author of Tell Stories, Get Hired.

There's nothing like a subpar resume to take you out of the running! Your resume has to do the talking, tell a story, and if no one's been listening, likely your resume needs a spring tune-up. You have approximately 10 seconds to get them hooked, so it has to be dynamic, easy-to-read and concise.

Career summary

Start off with a bang: The first 25–50% of the page is most critical to the hiring manager. Write a short career summary to immediately let them know what you can bring to the table. This attention-getting paragraph focuses on a brief—did we mention brief?—overview of who you are and your value. No objective statement, please! Your objective doesn't matter, only theirs.

Use numbers

If you want to know how to make a good resume, use numbers to quantify your achievements. Add some data and numbers in there to emphasize achievement; for example, if you've been instrumental in boosting business, say you've increased revenues by 20% versus increased revenues.

Employers hire based on results, not on what you were responsible for, and they use the results or accomplishments to predict your future performance, what might be possible, in a similar role, says Wright.

A resume ultimately says, "Call me for an interview!" That's its sole purpose, says Wright, a resume expert at "To achieve that, it must do more than showcase what you have done. It has to demonstrate your potential. That means tailoring the resume, so it focuses on accomplishments or results rather than on the day-to-day responsible-for tasks contained in the job description."

Keep it neat

If you have a well-tuned resume, you are one step ahead of your competition for that next opportunity. While you want to show them what you can do and the results you can deliver, do not deliver excessive use of industry jargon, funky graphics, and please no headshot at the top of the page. Unless you're applying for a modeling or acting job, keep your pretty face to yourself.

Keep in mind that while a resume is significant and the first thing an employer asks for, in this very competitive job market, job seekers at any level need to make sure they have a solid social media profile, particularly LinkedIn.

"Once an employer/recruiter receives a resume, they head straight to social media to see what's out there on this individual. What does their digital footprint look like?" says Wright. While they're not necessarily looking for any negative, they could be looking to see what a job applicant's online brand looks like, who are the influencers they are following, and are they contributing to industry discussion groups.

Wright offers more spring cleaning tips to polish up your resume:

•    Include keywords: Thoroughly review the job description to make sure your resume mimics the job posting, i.e., it contains the keywords and competencies mentioned. If not, you will miss the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) boat.

•    Write for the ATS as well as the human eye. The ATS is part of the whole artificial intelligence (AI) space now. It screens your resume before the human eye; therefore, create your resume with the ATS in mind.

•    Ensure that your resume is telling your story, not someone else's, and is compelling enough to capture the reader's attention and evoke action.

•    Proofread for correct spelling and grammar, even if it means reading it from the bottom up after you have given it a three-times over.

•    Update your resume frequently so that it's ready for your next opportunity. Don't wait until the last minute.

Clean up your mess! Here are other sure bet ways to lose 'em within seconds, according to Wright:

•    Creating a one-size-fits-all resume and using it to apply for every job. No customization.

•    Spelling and grammar mistakes: 'manger' when it should've been 'manager.'

•    Omitting keywords that are relevant to the job and repeated throughout the job posting.

•    Using an unprofessional email address: does not belong on a resume.

•    Including References Available on Request. It's outdated and takes up space. Employers already know you'll provide references when asked.

•    Disguising gaps in employment.

The key to how to make a good resume lies in showing how you can serve an employer's needs—not vice versa. Make sure your value is on display so a hiring manager sits up and takes notice.