Fix Your Résumé in 8 Steps
Not reeling any job interviews in with your résumé? No need to lose hope — it just might be time for a makeover. According to some studies, recruiters spend a measly SIX seconds scanning a résumé, meaning they have very little time to waste on applications that have giant red flags. Even if you’re the most qualified of applicants, your application could be completely ignored if it’s not structured correctly, or if you don’t highlight the qualities that make you a perfect fit for the job.
If your application isn’t standing out, here are 8 ways to fix your résumé. Taking a few minutes to fix your résumé could be the difference between a fruitless job hunt and an attractive job offer:
1. Get rid of your objective.
“No one cares about your career objective. Nobody cares. NOBODY,” writes Ruben Quintero on LinkedIn’s blog. What the employer cares about is that you’re the best fit for the company and you can solve their problems. An objective shows what you want from the company, not what you can offer them. So instead of wasting this space repeating boilerplate language that isn’t eye-catching to the employer, use this section to highlight your qualifications that make you the perfect fit for the job.
2. Move your education from the beginning to the end of your résumé.
If you’re not a fresh grad any more (that is, you’ve had a few jobs already), you should let your work history take center stage. At this point in your career, you shouldn’t rely on your college GPA to get attention any more — instead, your work experience and skills should speak for themselves. Also, if you’ve graduated college already, there’s no need to list high school education on your résumé.
3. Stay away from the word “passion”.
At this point, the word “passion” has been used so many times it’s lost its meaning. Saying how much passion you have doesn’t help you stand out from the crowd. Besides, passion doesn’t help your employers directly. “Getting to do work you are passionate about is a job benefit employers give you, not a skill you bring to them,” writes Miro Kazakoff for Businessweek. Instead of wasting the hiring manager’s time by making them read about how much passion you have for a job, show how your passion translates into a good job performance that helps the company achieve its bottom line and helps you work well with others.
4 Remove irrelevant experience.
Remember, you only have six seconds. You don’t need to include the three months you spent as a Starbucks barista if you’re applying for a managerial job at a bank. Streamline your résumé and include only relevant experience showing the skills you learned at each position and how these skills relate to the position you’re applying for.
5. Quantify your achievements.
Be specific and have the facts and figures to back up your achievements. Staying vague and writing things like “Improved sales in my department” doesn’t really tell the employer anything. Use cold, hard facts to show your contributions so that the hiring manager knows in measurable terms the positive impact you’ve had in your previous positions. “Increased sales by 150% in Fiscal Year 2013 – 2014 by [insert your initiative/project that drove these sales here]” provides more information (and makes you sound better — as long as it’s truthful!) and gives the employer more concrete reasons to give you an interview.
6. Use keywords wisely.
When tailoring your application for a particular position, use keywords from the job posting itself in your résumé. This ensures that when the employer does a keyword search to filter the hundreds of applications, yours will show up in their results, increasing the chances of you getting called back for an interview. If you don’t have the correct keywords, the employer might not even see your résumé, especially if there are many other applications. To further improve the likelihood of your résumé getting picked up, work in the most common keywords in your field in your job descriptions, as long as you do it naturally and it doesn’t sound forced.
Your résumé is the first impression the employer gets of you. Careless errors don’t make a good first impression, and your application could go straight to the trash can because you misspelled “quality control”. Proofreading could be the difference between getting a call for an interview and not hearing back from the employer at all. After everything, proofread your application to make sure everything’s correct. For extra safety, have a friend look over your résumé with fresh eyes so they can spot any errors you may have missed.
8. Make sure your email address is professional.
An unprofessional, cutesy email address like firstname.lastname@example.org can torpedo an otherwise good résumé. If you don’t already have a professional [first name].[last name]@[acceptable domain like gmail].com address, get one right now — it won’t cost you anything and it might even get you a few callbacks. You can even try having an email address just for job applications, so that emails about positions won’t get lost in the deluge of Facebook notifications or personal emails.