Eight Questions to Perfect Your Resume

Kelli Thomason

Kelli Thomason is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Operations Director at HireBetter.

By year-end, many of us turn our thoughts to goals we would like to achieve in the upcoming year. If making a career change or landing a new opportunity is at the top of your list, you may want to give your resume a makeover. Follow these resume tips to produce a stellar document that will capture the attention of prospective hiring managers.

Is your format consistent, clean, and presentable?

A traditional font such as Times New Roman, 10- to 12-point size, black type against a white background or paper is best. Use boldface type, italics, and underlining strategically. In addition, use bullet points to easily summarize key responsibilities. Maintain margins at a half-inch or more at the top and bottom of the document, or it may appear as though your words are falling off the page.

Do you use dynamic verbs?

Stand out and clearly detail your experience by using dynamic verbs, more commonly known as action verbs. There are lists with thousands of action verbs available online, including the “longest action verb list in the universe!” As a general rule, avoid using the same action verb to begin a bullet point more than once per page.

Are you citing statistics, numbers, and percentages to demonstrate your success?

Focus on your achievements rather than your responsibilities and remember that numbers are key to demonstrating your success. By what percentage did you increase sales? How much money did you save the company? “Drove a 28% increase in sales by…” will attract the attention of hiring managers faster than, “Increased sales by…”

Is your email address professional?

Hiring managers may raise an eyebrow at non-professional email addresses. It’s best to use a variation of your name or something closely tied to your name rather than a favorite team or a nickname from high school. We all had what we thought was a pretty “dope” email addy back in the day (my teen told me “dope” means “cool” or “awesome” in today’s lingo), but with so many free email options, it makes sense to create an email address strictly for your job search that is as close to your real name as possible.

Are dates, titles, and employers easy to find?

The average resume is reviewed in about 10 seconds. Make sure the hiring manager doesn’t have to search to find your accomplishments and work experience by being concise, structured, and specific. Use the “what, when, why, or how method.” First state what you did (“Drove a revenue increase of $100,000…”), then why or how you did it (“…by implementing a new pricing structure that attracted smaller businesses and expanded market share”). Generally, list your work history in reverse chronological order, mentioning specific months and years, starting with your present or most recent job and then working backwards.

Is your resume two pages long at most?

Again, 10 seconds! Hiring managers review hundreds, perhaps thousands, of resumes, per job, so make it easy on them. The resume is a means to an interview, not the interview itself. You want to provide enough information to give the hiring manager an overview of your capabilities without overwhelming him or her.

Is your resume geared toward the job and employer?

Avoid the temptation to use the same resume for all of your applications. Review the job description and identify the main responsibilities compared to your skill set. Incorporate keywords from the job description into your resume so the hiring manager knows you reviewed the opportunity and put some thought into your application and how your skills meet their needs.

Have you proofread your resume and asked others to review it, as well?

Take a break from working on your resume and look at it with fresh eyes. Then, have one, two, or even five other people look over it as well. Typos can make or break an otherwise outstanding resume and hiring managers often have little tolerance for errors on such an important personal document.

While these tips are considered general “best practices” for creating a resume that will attract the attention of the hiring manager, there are exceptions to the rules. Consider consulting with a professional resume writer for specific questions about how best to present your background and experience.

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