There are plenty of other things people would rather do with their time than update a resume—but for a lot of us, it has to be done. Here are a few tips to make sure your resume is on point, and that it represents your experience and capabilities in the best possible light.
Quantify and qualify your experience
Clearly communicate the entirety of your previous experiences by quantifying the points on your resume, and then by explaining your approach. This simply means you should always try to describe: how many, how much, how often and using what method / skill, when detailing your performed duties.
For example, a cashier could list “Tended to customers” on his resume, or he could make a more substantial point and say, “Tended to a minimum of 75 customers per shift, all within a target average speed of 2 minutes per transaction and with superior customer service” (I’m not sure what numbers are supposed to be impressive, I’m just giving an example).
Tell potential employers how many people you managed, how many customer inquiries you addressed, how often you ran reports, how large of a social media following you engaged, and the methods you used, so they understand the full scope of work you’ve taken on and how you went about getting it done.
Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for
Generic doesn’t cut it. As much as resumes are no fun, they cannot be one and done. When actively on a job search, you should tailor your resume to the jobs you’re applying for. This means giving emphasis to previous experience that would be most relevant, and pulling off things that do not support the job you’re applying for. If you have limited job experience, list what you do have, but be sure to focus on duties and skills that could carry over to the new position you’re applying for.
Note: There are some global characteristics that translate from entry-level / service jobs that will contribute greatly to any career. For example, [good] servers are typically great with people, have strong multitasking abilities and exhibit patience and the ability to adapt to different situations. If you don’t have a ton of job experience to list, be sure to highlight how the experience you do have will help you be successful.
Be selective about the items you list on your resume. Get rid of the noisy details that clutter your resume and keep people away from the meat of your experience. Tip: Ask yourself, “So what?” behind every bit of content you add to your resume.
Also, try to avoid duties that would be assumed based on the position or that don’t offer any real value to your resume, unless you can quantify or qualify them with a hard-hitting point.
For example, if you’re a nurse, “Cared for patients” is not a strong point, because it is assumed to be part of a nurse’s role. A stronger point would be, served as a caregiver, counselor and motivator to patients through interpersonal communication and precise nursing practices. The alternative would be to not list “Cared for patients” altogether, and to leave room for more valuable points.
Structure your content
A resume shouldn’t look like a long-form essay. Make sure you have structured your resume in a way that is easily digestible, and that gives visual emphasis to the most important elements. Use formatting and spacing to list each position consistently, and in an organized fashion.
Read and review
Read and re-read your resume, and ask someone else to read it, too. Make sure phone numbers and email addresses are correct. Go back to the websites of previous jobs listed on your resume to make sure they’re still in business (and if they’re not, be prepared to explain that to your potential employer). If you list social media accounts that you’ve managed on your resume, review those accounts to be sure that the content is appropriate for a potential manager to see. Make sure your resume is free of typos—a typo on a resume is a big deal, and not in a good way, so make sure you’re thorough.