Taking Your Resume from “Good” to “Great”

Are you wondering why you never get a call for an interview, even though you have sent your resume to dozens of companies? You may feel that your efforts are in vain and that you are sending your resume into cyberspace, never to hear from it again. In today’s competitive job market, job seekers are finding that it is not enough simply to list previous jobs and responsibilities and that going the extra mile is quickly becoming a required mile. Here are a few ways you can improve your resume for job searching success.

Tailor your resume to a specific position or company.

  1. Write a resume title and list your strengths and qualifications below, or create a profile section that identifies how your key skills, experience, and accomplishments align with the job qualifications. This is the easiest method of customizing your resume without completely rewriting it.
  2. Use key words and phrases from the job posting. Even a “generic” resume should be focused on a specific job function, even if not a specific company. Sites such as Monster.com offer sample job descriptions to help job seekers customize their resumes for a specific industry or position.
  3. Organize your experience according to related experience and additional experience. This helps move your career-related experience closer to the top of the resume, as well as organize it all together. Even if you do not have work experience directly related to the position, you can include relevant volunteer work, internships, coursework/course projects, job shadowing, or independent study.

Include results and accomplishments, not just responsibilities.

  1. If you were a cashier, the employer already knows that you handled a cash drawer and rang up customers’ purchases. Instead, share how your cash drawer balanced perfectly each night or how you were awarded “Employee of the Month” because of how you consistently demonstrated initiative or great customer service skills.
  2. Relate any promotions or raises you earned or that you acquired additional responsibilities or privileges because of your work performance.
  3. Whenever possible, include numbers. Employers like to see quantitative data.
  4. Include any ways that you implemented changes that resulted in higher efficiency, reduced expense, or resolved a challenge.

Create a visually effective and appealing format.

  1. Your resume should not look bare, but it should not be crowded, either.
  2. Use formatting to help separate information, but do not overdo it.
  3. A resume should not be overly decorative, but it should also have a fresh, updated look. Avoid using colors, page borders, or other embellishments. However, you can use a line under section headings to help separate sections.