Writing a great resume isn’t easy. The perfect resume is subjective and depends on factors such as your industry, job title and the hiring manager reading it. From formatting, to the right words to use, to tone, you’ll find countless tidbits of advice on how to write a resume the ‘right way’. Much of the resume advice out there is contradictory and changes depending on whom you ask. You can do your best to follow every tidbit of advice, and still come up with a resume that doesn’t seem to lead to interviews. If you find that your resume isn’t getting you to the interview stage of your job search, here are some resume hacks to get your resume in front of recruiters.
1. keywords are crucial
The most important thing you can do to get your resume seen by recruiters is to include and repeat keywords throughout it. Keywords are short phrases that describe your job, skills and areas of expertise. Including them in your resume helps you get through resume scanning software that pre-selects the best candidates. These tools are used by a lot of companies to optimize their HR team’s time and reduce the number of resumes they have to read. However they can end up weeding out some really great candidates. Make sure you aren’t one of those people. Also, be sure to save your resume as a word document so that the text can be parsed by these tools.
2. get rid of the buzzwords
There are few things more off-putting than someone who uses a lot of big, fancy words to try to sound intelligent (or in this case qualified for a job). You might think you’re sounding trendy and intelligent, but we promise you’re not, and recruiters won’t think so either. Ditch the buzzwords and your resume will be stronger for it. We’re talking about all those overused cliché phrases that get overused to death. Synergistic. Disruptor. Game changer. Rockstar. We could go on. We guarantee that anyone reading these words on your resume is going to think less of you. Use simple, clean language that describes what you do and the impact you had. There’s no need to fluff up your resume with buzzwords. It’ll have the opposite effect that you’re hoping for.
3. add a splash of colour
Though people are becoming more creative when it comes to their resumes, the vast majority of resumes are still black and white. And that means there’s an opportunity to stand out. Adding a splash of colour can make your resume instantly different and draw attention, in a good way. After all, a bland resume might not even get to the point where it’s read. There are tons of great templates online that you can choose from with a hint of colour – usually one or two accent colours is more than enough to catch a recruiter’s eye. Just be careful to toe the line between creative and professional. Err on the side of simple if you’re not sure. Hot pink and neon green probably aren’t the right colours for your professional brand, no matter what field you work in.
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4. use white space to your advantage
We see way too many resumes that are overloaded with information. Yes, you want to ensure that your resume accurately reflects your career history and experience. However, squeezing the margins to a fraction of an inch and shrinking the font size to 8 point to try to cram everything in is not the solution. A lack of white space will make your resume overwhelming to read and can deter recruiters from picking it up when it crosses their desk. Avoid lengthy paragraphs and use bullet points wherever it makes sense. Keep those bullet points to 1-line or less and use no more than 6 in a row. Using these techniques increase white space and make the information on your resume more accessible. When your resume is easy to read and process, it will also be more memorable. And that’s key when you’re 1 of 100 candidates vying for a job.
5. pepper in action words
Action words (a.k.a. verbs) give your resume an instant boost. Action words make your resume sound more dynamic and add a storytelling element. Instead of blandly listing all your responsibilities, describe what you did using action words. Even better: start sentences and bulleted points with them. Here is an example of how a few action words can transform your resume and give it a little boost:
Don’t: Responsible for creative strategy and marketing campaigns
Do: Leads creative strategy, brainstorming ideas for marketing campaigns and executing them
Need some help selecting great action words for your resume? Here’s a list of 185 action words to consider adding to your resume.
6. focus on the numbers
Numbers are objective and don’t lie, assuming you didn’t make them up, of course! Speaking of which, be honest on your resume, please. Lying will only hurt your professional brand if you’re caught. Including numbers on your resume is powerful because it quantifies your contributions makes it clear exactly what impact you had. It’s easy for anyone to say they did something or lay on a whole bunch of adjectives to describe how amazing they are, but when you back up your statements with numbers, they carry a lot more weight. Let’s look at an example. Compare these two statements:
I significantly increased sales quarter over quarter.
I increased sales 34% quarter over quarter.
The simple addition of a number adds weight to the statement, without any other changes. Use this to your advantage on your resume!
want more resume writing advice? check out our content on perfecting your resume.
Changing a few simple elements on your resume can have a big impact. Remember: your resume is a marketing document that sells your best qualities as a job seeker. You want it to look nice, and the content to be engaging and persuasive. These hacks will help you achieve those goals!