7 Easy Things You Can Do To Improve Your Resume!
By Stephanie Santoso
You may have heard recently that Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson resigned from his position after it was discovered that he had padded his resume with inaccurate information about his educational background. There are quite a number of similar stories of high ranking executives who have been found to have falsified information on their resumes. This goes to show just how important a resume can be to helping you develop your career (or in their cases, being detrimental to their careers).
What comes to mind when you think of a resume? I know for me, it serves as a ticket to that crucial internship or full-time job interview. A resume is first and foremost a reflection of who you are as a professional. What makes your resume so important is that it may be the very first information that a recruiter or your would-be supervisor might receive about you as they evaluate whether you are an ideal candidate for an open position. A resume is your first chance to make a real, positive and lasting impression on the person or people at an organization where you hope to work. Having created, edited, revised and revamped my resume over the past 8 years has taught me a thing or two about what makes a strong resume that accurately and effectively showcases your educational background, professional experience and skills in a way that will help you stand out from the crowd. Below are seven easy things you can do to improve your resume and make sure that you communicate to employers why you are the perfect person for the job.
Make sure to elaborate upon previous internship or job experiences specifically. One mistake that people often make with their resumes is not providing enough information about what types of activities and responsibilities they had in their previous roles. For example, let’s take a fictional job candidate named Daisy Jane, who is a project manager at McMillan, an IT consulting firm. Daisy’s resume may describe her experience as the following:
Project Manager, McMillan
-Manage various projects for clients in different types of industries
-Present new technological solution ideas to clients
-Supervise team members
The description is quite vague and does not provide the reader with a clear indication of the scope of Daisy’s daily tasks and responsibilities. A stronger description would read like this:
Project Manager, McMillan (IT consulting firm)
-Oversee information systems integration, new software adoption and IT risk management projects for clients in healthcare, media and financial industries
-Develop and propose innovative technological solutions plans for CRM and ERP
-Supervise the daily tasks of team members
Quantify and use numbers as much as possible. Using numbers when you can throughout your resume will provide reviewers with a context and scope of a particular experience. For example, Daisy Jane should include the number of team members she supervises in the bullet point above. Numbers should especially be used if the figure is impressive. One instance of this might be if you were tasked with managing a large budget.
Make sure to include relevant course work in the education section which reflects the specific skills and experience required for the position you are applying for. This is a section that I think often gets overlooked, but can really be used to show an employer how the curriculum of your major and/or minor is suited for the position. It is also helpful if your degree program may not be exactly aligned to the position you are applying for, but you know you have taken courses which have taught you the skills you need for the job. For example, perhaps Daisy Jane is applying for a position as a Database Administrator. She may have majored in Communications, but she has taken several database courses, including Data Administration Concepts and Database Management and Database Security. She should make sure to highlight these in the education section of her resume.
Be generous in listing your IT skills. Many of you may not think that knowing Microsoft Word or Powerpoint are skills because you can’t remember a time when you didn’t know how to use these programs, but they are skills, and useful ones at that. While listing your fluency of programming languages and knowledge of operating systems should definitely appear on your resume, don’t forget to include other types of IT skills, such as your knowledge of work based communication and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Sharepoint or Adobe Connect as well as design software such as Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Dreamweaver. Don’t forget to include your knowledge of social media platforms- many companies these days are looking for candidates who are comfortable navigating what they still consider a somewhat nebulous space with lots of business value.
Include leadership or service activities- don’t sacrifice these for adding content in other sections. Employers want to know that the candidates they are considering for a particular position are well rounded. As a student, be sure to showcase how you have contributed to the university or greater community. Corporate social responsibility is a key part of many organizations’ visions.
Use bullet points and a reasonable font size. This recommendation may seem like I am stating the obvious, but it is important to remember that some recruiters cull through hundreds of resumes in one day. If they have a huge pile to get through, get to your resume and can barely read the font without a magnifying glass, there is a good chance that your resume will end up in the trash bin. If you are unsure whether the layout of your resume is organized and the font size is easily legible, ask people you know to read the resume on both a computer screen and printed out on paper before you submit a final version.
If you are a student, visit your career services office on campus to get your resume critiqued. If you aren’t a student, try to ask a colleague or friend working in your field to provide you with constructive feedback on the content of your resume. Having an additional set of eyes review your resume will normally turn up something that you may have forgotten to include or may help you discover a mistake or poorly worded description.
Following these tips and others such as those provided by CareerBuilder and Forbes will help you tighten up your resume and will ensure that the person that employers see on paper will be well-aligned with who you are in reality. Remember to take your time when crafting your resume- one of the worst things you can do is to rush through putting together the document summarizing the experiences and skills that took so long for you acquire. After all, you want to convey you are a unique and qualified candidate!
What other tips do you have for putting together the perfect resume? Share these with us in the comments section.
Stephanie Santoso is a graduate of the Masters in Information Management program at Syracuse University, and an Information Science Ph.D. student at Cornell University. She is interested in developing policies which will help maintain users’ privacy and data security while preserving the openness and innovation of the Internet. She received her B.S. in Marketing and Media Studies from the University of Virginia. Contact her at email@example.com.
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