Are you looking for simple ways to improve your resume? Well, you’re in the right place! I’ve got 26 ideas about how you can improve your resume today and believe me, they are all well within your reach. Check them out and let me know if you have any other tips to add.
1. Check your resume for spelling and grammar mistakes
This seems obvious, but I recommend you always do one last check of your resume before sending it out, because those pesky spelling mistakes can be hiding right under your nose. I’ve heard a great tip about reading each sentence backwards – apparently this helps your brain to spot the errors. You could also check out a free tool like Grammarly, which helps to make sure your writing shines.
2. Add some pops of colour
If you are familiar with any of my work, I know you won’t be shocked by this point. I am a true lover of colour in all areas of my life, including my resumes. When I design resumes for my clients I often use colour to infuse their personality into the design. It is also a fantastic way to stand out in a stack of boring black and white applications! One of the questions I always ask my resume clients is, "What is your favourite colour?", and then I work to incorporate it into their design. Try it out for yourself!
3. Write a more convincing professional profile
Your professional profile is usually the first section of your resume and it is the perfect place to pitch yourself to your potential employer. Tailor your professional profile to suit the position you are applying for, to maximise your chances of being selected for an interview. You want to cover off on your skills, experience, qualifications and interests in a way that convinces an employer that you're the perfect applicant for the job. I've got an upcoming post about this, so keep your eyes peeled!
4. Quantify your achievements
If you don’t quantify your achievements, you may come across as being vague and you don’t want that! Use time, money, key performance indicators, numbers or other things you can measure, to provide a more detailed explanation of what you have achieved. This will be far more persuasive for future employers.
5. Give context to your skills
Great attention to detail? Communication skills? Most of us have these skills mentioned on our resume, but for this information to be meaningful, you need to give them some context. How do you demonstrate your attention to detail? How have your communication skills contributed to your success? If your list of skills looks a little like a shopping list, you'll need to put in a bit more effort.
6. Tailor it to suit a specific job
I’ve already mentioned tailoring your professional profile to suit the job you are applying for, but you should consider re-jigging your entire resume, particularly if you are throwing your hat in the ring for a job that is a little left of field, or different to the other roles you are considering. Take into consideration the selection criteria for the role, as well as any keywords used in the advertisement. You might also want to consider the tone of language used and see if you can mirror it in your application.
7. Ask a colleague to review it
Sometimes getting a colleague or contact in your industry to review your resume can be quite an eye opening experience. They may see flaws or areas that you could expand on to make your resume more effective. You might even like to swap resumes and provide each other with feedback! If this isn't an option, you might like to engage a resume writer (like me) for a review, or even a professional editor. These options can be quite inexpensive, but can make a huge impact.
8. Go digital
The internet is the way of the future, and yep, that means going digital with your resume. Of course, LinkedIn is a great option for this, but if you want to really dive into developing your brand, a personal website is a great option. Check out this post from The Muse for a little inspiration.
9. Change up your design
Did you know that you can download easily edited resume design templates for really reasonable prices? That’s right. If you don’t fancy the idea of designing your own resume, you can buy one that is ready to dump your information into. There’s really no excuse for having a poorly designed resume! I've recently shared a post on this exact topic, to help you understand how you can use different design elements to up your game.
10. Delete irrelevant information
Most people have at least one or two pieces of irrelevant information in their resumes and I love spotting them and hitting the ‘delete’ key! Go ahead and check through your resume now. For each piece of information ask yourself this question: “will this convince an employer to hire me?” If your answer is no, you better leave it out.
11. Update your referees (or remove them completely!)
You don’t need to include your referees on your resume, but I understand why some people like to keep them on there. This is really up to personal preference and I design resumes with and without referees. If you are going to include them, just make sure they are recent, relevant and that your referees’ contact information is current. Also, I know it can seem impressive to include someone senior from your organisation as one of your referees, but when choosing your referees, you should ensure they are in a position where they can comment on your day-to-day work.
12. Shorten it to 2-3 pages
I see way too many four, five and six page resumes. It hurts my head. If your resume is that long, you are likely boring your potential employers and there is little chance that they will actually read to the end of them. Cut it down to 2-3 pages – I promise you, this is possible, no matter how long you have been working!
13. Explain your duties
“Cash handling” is usually the example I use. Whenever I see this on a resume, I cringe. If you are putting together your list of duties from your current or previous employer, use full sentences and explain what it is that you did. Use your duties to tell a story and paint a picture of what your role entailed. This is far more powerful than one or two word sentences.
Is your resume on fleek? If not, you need this post!
14. Choose a more legible font
If your resume is difficult to read, employers and recruiters will just move onto the next one. I am a fan of sans serif fonts (the ones without the little flicks) for resume body text, but occasionally I use a serif font if the rest of the resume design is quite simple. In this case, I will consider increasing the size of the font to make it easier to skim.
15. Replace buzzwords with keywords
Everyone wants to talk buzzwords but I am saying “fooey!”. Buzzwords are rubbish. You don’t need to be filling your resume with words that seem like they are sexy in your industry. Instead, choose keywords that employers will be searching on, or as I mentioned earlier, match the language in your resume to the language in the advertisement.
16. Choose an infographic style
Infographic resumes are definitely not suitable for all industries, but if you are working in a creative field, you might want to show off your creativity using an infographic resume. There are loads of ideas available through a quick google search, or you can check out Canva for some easy to use templates.
17. PDF it!
You should always PDF your resume before you send it! This ensures that all of your design elements remain where you intended and it just makes your resume look far more crisp and clean. If you aren’t sure how to PDF a document, check out SmallPDF for a simple online Word to PDF converter. You can even use this tool to decrease the size of your PDF file, which can come in handy if you are using a lot of design elements.
18. Review your education
Do you have a list a mile long of one day courses you have attended? Pick the top two or three that are relevant to the role you are applying for and scrap the rest. Honestly, it is overkill. You can always provide a potential employer with more information about your education if they need it. Otherwise it is just wasting valuable space on your resume.
19. Use simple language
I am often asked to review resumes for people and sometimes I don’t even know what they say, because the author has gone a little too crazy with the thesaurus. If a word is not used on a day to day basis in your role or industry, don’t use it in your resume. It doesn’t make you look fancy, it just means that employers and recruiters won’t know what you are talking about. Awkward.
20. Break up chunks of text
You’ll notice that here on the blog I use headings and bullet points to break up large portions of text. This is a deliberate move, because it makes it a lot easier for you to read it, especially if you’re in a hurry! You can use the same tactics to make your resume easier to skim. Break up sections of your resume with a heading that is bold or in a different colour or font. Bullet pointed lists can also break up the space and make it far easier to consume.
21. Write a complimentary cover letter
Ah, the cover letter. You know I always recommend you write a thoughtful cover letter that is targeted to the job you are applying for, and attach it to your application? If you aren’t doing this, you are wasting an opportunity to sell yourself and connect further with your potential employer. Here's a post I wrote previously about turning your cover letter into a professional love letter.
22. Ditch your objective
I am so passionate about ditching the objective section of your resume that I wrote a whole blog post on it! As you can see in this post there are a couple of reasons you might keep an objective in your resume, but for most of us, it is just a waste of space.
23. Don’t include the reasons you left
I know you might be tempted to explain yourself, but honestly, this is not required. If an employer wants to know why you moved from one opportunity to the next, they can ask you. If you have taken a break from work, you can always choose to explain this in your professional profile.
24. Sell yourself
Your resume is a sales document, so treat it that way! There is no room to beat around the bush and tiptoe around your skills and strengths. Lay them out and show potential employers what you are made of! You don’t need to be cocky, but you can be confident in your abilities. Let this shine through in your resume!
25. Make every word count
You have limited space in your resume, so use it wisely. Don’t waffle on, give too much information where it isn’t needed or use additional words to make yourself look more professional. It just does the opposite. Consider whether every single word is needed and if not, cut them out.
26. Hire someone to help you
It would be remiss of me not to offer you the opportunity to outsource the preparation of your resume to someone else, particularly as I am a resume writer! If you would like to find out more about working with me, you can check out my resume writing services here.
I hope you enjoy this post and find value in the tips I have shared. If so, please do me a favour and help me get my message out to the people who need it. Hit one of the buttons below and share this on social media!