Ten Tips To Instantly Improve Your Resume

What happens if you are a professional who has a great job history, lots of accomplishments, but you have a mediocre resume?

Well, often it means you hold yourself back from reaching your full career potential so that your compensation, level of responsibility and overall job satisfaction suffer.

Think of it this way: even securing interviews with a resume that just doesn’t cut it puts you in the challenging position of having to try to “sell up” from the “just okay” first impression your resume has already created for you in the eyes of the interviewer.

A smarter plan that will ultimately save you time, money and frustration is to start off on the right foot and create the best first impression possible. Here are ten steps to get you started:

Tip number one: start with a great heading
No, I don’t mean a one sentence objective or your current title. I mean two or three words that closely match your key skills, key industries or a combination thereof.

These grab the readers attention right away, so they need to be powerful, crystal clear and targeted. Check out my website for several samples.

Tip number two: make it stand out
A good design is eye-catching and professional. If you know basics in MS word (like how to create a shadow or a border), this should be easy for you to incorporate into your resume and cover letter. Be careful no to go overboard, though!

Tip number three: add lots of keywords
Keywords at the top of your resume that demonstrate both soft and hard skills help the reader separate out your strengths from your current and past employers. This makes it easier for the reader to connect with you and mentally “picture” you working with them!

Keywords also ensure the document can be quickly read or scanned to find a match between your skills and the target position.

Tip number four: bullet point your quantifiable achievements
Right at the top of the first page you should, if possible, lead with three to six bullets – each with a crystal clear sentence outlining your strengths.

Tip number five: spell out and BOLD your academic achievements Rather than writing MBA, write Masters of Business Administration (MBA), and BOLD your degree.

Tip number six: add the extras
Memberships, volunteer activities, certifications and training programs that are relevant to the position and industry you are seeking, should all be listed in your resume.

You can leave off personal information, such as family status, personal hobbies and statements such as “references upon request.”

Tip number seven: create an accomplishments summary
Under your professional experience, you should always call out your key accomplishments.

You can do this at the top of your professional experience (just group your accomplishments all in together) or as key points under each of your positions.

Don’t forget to BOLD your key accomplishments.

Tip number eight: create the right resume for you
Are you changing industries or building on the one you have been in for some time? Are you a legal professional or in academia?

Resume styles for these professions are all different, so make sure yours is the right style for your industry and/or position of choice.

Functional resumes are generally best for industry or position changes, chronological for staying in your industry.

Tip number nine: sell your present and past employers
Add a favorable sentence or two about each employer as you list each position (ex: ABC Company is a 50 million dollar provider of award-winning widgets with three divisions and 450 employees).

Tip number ten: quantify your accomplishments
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is communicating a menu of responsibilities without completing the story.

Employers want to know “WHAT HAPPENS” when you do what you do, so help them understand why they should hire you by telling them the results of your responsibilities.

Granted, these tips are just the tip of the iceberg, but making sure they are incorporated into your resume can make a difference in the quantity and quality of interviews you get!

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of CEOresumewriter.com and Maryelizabethbradford.com and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member interested in an executive resume package or working directly with Mary Elizabeth, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.