3 Way to Improve your Resume (Before You Go and Ask For Advice)

by Laura Labovich on December 14, 2012

Today I received an email from a friend asking for help with her friend’s resume. It went something like this:

“Do you think you can take a look and let me know what you think, or just make any changes that you think are needed?”

Of course, after I read it, it occurred to me that I’ve probably given out this same advice to hundreds of job seekers over the years. So, for the folks out there who want a little advice on a resume, here’s the quick and dirty. Before you ask for any advice, go do the following things to your resume, and then come back to me:

1. Heavy-, middle-, or light-weight…your resume better have a title!  So, if it doesn’t have one, dig deeper. This generally means that you don’t know what you are targeting, or you are targeting a job that you haven’t had yet. So, let’s go ahead and address these individually:

– If you don’t know what you are targeting, time to do a little more soul searching. There are loads of free and low-cost career assessments out there that can help you get to know yourself a bit more. And, if you need help, there are a ton of great career counselors out there waiting to support you (Just ask me. I’ll get you to the right person.)

– If you want to be a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep, but you’ve only done sales of educational software, that’s OK!  Put the title of the job you WANT in the header…no one is going to hold your hands to the fire for claiming you’ve done it already. It will be clear once they read your resume that you have limited experience selling pharmaceuticals, but gobs of experience selling software. Without a title, however, no one has any idea what the @$%* you’ve sold!

2.  Don’t leap into experience straight-away….give us a little time to marinade in your essence!  A career summary is a beautiful thing to a recruiter. As a former Walt Disney World recruiter who had to sort through thousands of resumes on campuses across the U.S., I would have welcomed a career summary as if it were a nice, chilled glass of Riesling on a warm Friday night.  A career summary tells the reader what to expect from the resume; without one, it’s sort of like a book without a cover.  Also, by going through the process of creating a compelling career summary, you are better equipped to share why you will be a value-add to any given employer.

3. Fonts, typos, and errors….oh my! Of course there are exceptions to this rule (for example, a nice serif font, Times New Roman, in the header plus a sans serif font, Arial, in the body can look very classic) but, for the most part, pick a font and stick with it. It can be super distracting to read a sentence that starts off in Times New Roman, 11 point, and switches to Arial, 12, by the end. Commit to your fonts, as you want your employer to commit to you.  And, while we’re on the topic of consistency, here ye, here ye: before you send that resume of yours off to an employer, I urge you to send it to a trusted colleague, friend, or your spouse, first. ONE typo, error, or omission can cost you that job, period.

Now, go forth and write a knockout resume (but if you have trouble, you know where to find me).


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