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Recruiters are bombarded with many – hundreds, in fact – of job applications a day. In a highly competitive job market, your resume serves as your personal promotional advertisement. You can improve your resume by highlighting the most important and unique details about you, your work experience and your skills.
So how can you enhance your resume and stand out from the crowd? These quick yet practical tips will help.
1. Remove the words “responsible for”
Hiring managers don’t want to read a laundry list of your daily duties; they want to see what you’ve accomplished. Improve your resume by focusing on your qualifications and skills, rather than your job duties. Responsibilities don’t sell; your achievements do.
2. Highlight your relevant qualifications
Target the specific job you are applying for. Prioritise the relevant skills, qualifications and experiences that are aligned with the job. If you’re applying for a digital position, for example, include your previous experience in customer service, highlighting the communication and interpersonal skills you learned about consumers and how it contributes to the company’s online presence.
3. Quantify your achievements
Whatever template you adopt, quantifying your successes with numbers improves your resume because it gives a clearer idea of the magnitude of your accomplishments. Even if you don’t really work with numbers, you can still provide information such as a number range of how many people you manage, the frequency of your work tasks, or the scale of how much money you’ve helped save for the company.
Customising your resume helps increase your chances of reaching the human resources manager, so it’s important to do that for each specific role, as troublesome as it may seem. Communicate that you understand the pain points and the role, as well as how you can solve them. It shows that you have a high level of interest in the job and emphasises your strengths.
5. Use keywords
Improving your resume also increases your chances of reaching the hiring manager. Many companies, especially the big guys, have implemented an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help collect and scan resumes. To increase your chances of passing the first level, use the appropriate keywords. Use the job ad as a “cheat sheet” so you’re using the right words.
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6. Provide a career snapshot
Instead of including the old-school “career objective”, start your resume with an executive summary of your career. This should sum up your most relevant and important skills and experiences to describe your professional background.
7. Remove unnecessary details
Your resume should only show up to 15 years of your career history, with only what is relevant to the position you’re applying for. Remove overused buzzwords such as “team player” or “hard worker”, and the hobbies and interest sections, especially if they’re not relevant to the job. You can also drop graduation dates and GPA scores.
8. Keep your resume “skimmable”
It’s generally known that hiring managers don’t spend much time on each application so it’s best to give them as much information as possible in the shortest time. The first rule of writing a resume is to keep it short and to the point; best if it is all on a single page. One way is to keep paragraphs to four lines, or no more than five short bullet points.
9. Make your contact information pop
Yes, even how you present your contact info – which includes your phone number and professional email address – can improve your resume. Ensure it is prominently placed on the document, and remember to include live links to your relevant web information, such as your LinkedIn page, professional blog or online portfolio.
Triple-check your resume to ensure it is free of typos and there aren’t signs of sloppiness. Even after you’ve done your due diligence, you can ask family or friends to take another look to verify there are no mistakes.