8 Ways to Fix Your Resume

Most people’s resumes aren’t that great. It’s not because of where they’ve worked, or the title they had, or the college they’re from.  It’s because of little (and big) details people often overlook.  The good news is, these problems can easily be fixed – it just takes a little bit of polish. With the right resume you can have recruiters coming after you!

Here are 8 ways to fix your resume:

1)  Your resume should be a snapshot of who you are:  Maybe if you’re a freshman and don’t have much under your belt in college, it could be worthwhile to put high school experiences as “volunteer work” or “extracurricular activities.” However, by sophomore year, you should have new, more important stuff to populate your resume.  Maybe you’re a member of PRSSA, or AdClub, or in an Acapella Group.  Replace your old experiences with your new ones.  Hiring managers want a snapshot of who you are – not an autobiography.

2) Your resume should be one page: Remember that recruiters look at your resume for, on average, 20-seconds.  Keep your resume short and to the point – one page only.

3) Your resume should have white space: Create at least one-inch margins on your resume. Also, leave some blank space between various sections of the resume’s text, so several distinct chunks of information can be seen.

4) Your resume’s formatting should be awesome: In many cases, your resume will be a recruiter’s first impression of you – don’t screw it up with bad formatting.  Make sure all of your dates line up, you have no extra spaces and you use an easily readable font.  Oh, and don’t use crazy colors or include an image of yourself (unless maybe, you’re an actor).  Images can sometimes not show up in a downloaded document and it will only lead to a weird-looking resume.  Although you shouldn’t use a Microsoft Word template to build your resume, when it comes to formatting, sometimes you can be safer coloring inside the lines.

5) Focus on yourself, not your former company: Just because your last company had Coca-Cola, Nike, and Ford as clients, doesn’t mean you should create a bullet point that says your worked on projects for Coca-Cola, Nike, and Ford.  Don’t brag about your former employer’s results.  Your next employer is trying to hire you…not your last company.

6) Your resume should list accomplishments, not responsibilities: If I’m a recruiter, I want to know what how you can add value to my company.  For example, if you were at an internship and handled the Facebook page, don’t tell me that you “handled the Facebook page.” Tell me that you “increased engagement on Facebook by doing X, Y, and, Z.”  You’re trying to get hired for a job.  Sell yourself as a highly productive worker, not a mediocre one. (Check out a post another post we wrote on responsibilities vs accomplishments)

7) Your resume should be quantified: This builds off of Reason #6, but requires it’s own bullet point because of how important it is.  In any instance where you can, quantify your resume.  Show measurable results in your bullet points to show you can not only produce but know your [stuff].  For example, instead of writing “increased engagement on Facebook by doing X, Y, and Z,” write that you “increased engagement on Facebook by 50% by doing X, Y and Z.”  Some more examples:

a) “Increased sales 25% in first year”
b) “Led 6-month launch of internal Web site.”
c) “Recruited 5 people for sales and marketing.”
d) “Generated 500,000 impressions in 2 days.”

People like numbers.  Companies are driven by dollars, and in today’s new business world, analytics matter (even in marketing/PR). Numbers also allows recruiters to create an index in their mind of where you stand as a candidate and how great of an employee you can possibly be.  Not quantifying your resume would almost be like saying your GPA was “great” instead of a 3.5/4.0.  Quantify your resume and show you can deliver results.

8 ) Your resume doesn’t have to be in chronological order: By the time I reach the bottom of your resume, I want to say “We need to hire this person.”  Your resume doesn’t need to be in chronological order.  It’s a given as a student to normally start with your education and almost all resumes end with your skill-set. However, the meat of your resume needs to match the introduction and conclusion in quality.  Keep in mind that great resumes don’t necessarily need to go in order.  They do however, need to tell me who you are in the best possible way.  For example, take the time to first go through your work experience, then your leadership skills, and then your love of  community service.  Within those categories, order your companies and clubs according to what best fits the job description (as opposed to a chronological order).

Yes, having a good resume is more than just posting the companies you worked at on a piece of paper.  You need to sell yourself.  Use these eight bullet points to start building your new resume ASAP.

Below are an additional 8 ways to fix your resume (blog post coming soon).

  1. Your resume should fill the job description
  2. Your resume should be search optimized
  3. Your resume should fit the company culture
  4. Your resume should have no spelling and grammar mistakes
  5. You should hyperlink former employers to their company website
  6. You shouldn’t have an objective on your resume
  7. Your resume should have a focus
  8. Your resume should list skills, not interests
What reasons did I miss? Let me know in the comments section!

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Posted on November 29, 2011, in Careers, Internships and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. You should use Microsoft Word to build your resume, but don’t use one of their templates as your “resume bible.” Use your own judgement and build a resume that best displays your strengths. The Microsoft Word templates are a great starting point to set up lines and spacing, but don’t use them for anything else really (ie just because they have a volunteer experience section, doesn’t mean you need to fill in those blanks). Fill out your resume, not there’s.

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  2. If Microsoft Word is not recommended, what program should you use?

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  3. Hey Emily,

    Unless your applying for a design job, there’s no need to get fancy on your resume. The most important thing to keep in mind is readability. If your resume is laid out well and is easy to read, you should be fine.

    What matters more is the content of the resume though, not the layout. If your bullet points are vague or generic, you have a bigger problem than a fancy header.

    Maurice

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  4. Great post with helpful tips. Looking forward to Part II.

    Question about #4 though. Many resumes have fancy headers at the top, usually reflecting a person’s design skills. If a person doesn’t have much design experience, do you recommend they still have a customized header, even if the person asked for help from someone with design skills? Or do you recommend sticking with the basics and making sure other parts of the resume are strong and clear. Would appreciate your thoughts!

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