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9 Ways to Update and Improve Your Resume

In today’s fiercely competitive job market, your resume is a powerful tool that can propel you forward in your career search or leave you endlessly waiting for a call from a hiring manager. Employers receive countless resumes for desirable positions, and it’s crucial that your resume stands out among the many.

To craft an effective and striking resume, you have to balance resume best practices, career search trends, and industry preferences, while accounting for modern screening techniques and taking advantage of digital technology. Here are some tips on how to update and improve your resume and achieve more success during the job search process:

Customize Your Resume for Each Job.

If you are applying for a variety of positions, you will get more interviews if you tailor your resume to each job description. The expectations for an account executive or a sales manager can vary greatly by organization, so it’s important to understand what a role means in a particular company. To better demonstrate your qualifications, you should highlight your experiences and accomplishments that are most relevant to a specific position.

You should also develop your resume according to industry-specific standards. For example, a creative resume will be effective in the advertising industry, but a traditional resume is usually preferred in the engineering or legal fields. 

Develop a Career Summary.

Over the last few years, career advisors have recommended that job seekers discard the objective statement and replace it with a career summary that outlines your experience, expertise, and major accomplishments. Your career summary needs to quickly communicate your professional value because hiring managers make qualification decisions after looking at a resume for just six seconds, according to a study by TheLadders.

Use Keywords.

Companies are increasingly using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen resumes. Therefore, you need to use job-specific keywords to help ensure that your resume actually reaches a hiring manager.

To figure out which keywords to use, you should study a variety of job descriptions within the industry to determine which skill-related phrases appear most frequently and implement those keywords in your resume. In some cases, the difference between the phrase “client relations” and the phrase “customer service” can decide if your resume advances through the system. 

Focus on Your Accomplishments.

For a more impactful resume, focus on your accomplishments instead of listing job responsibilities and skills. Putting an emphasis on professional accomplishments will highlight your skills, show how you have applied those talents, and more effectively communicate your professional worth. With this format, hiring managers will also be able to better understand how your experience can help address challenges in their organization.   

Tell a Story.

As you start integrating your accomplishments into your resume, it can be helpful to use a storytelling approach to frame your achievements in a more compelling way. For example, you can tell a before-and-after story that describes a previous employer’s challenges and explains how you solved those issues. After an attention-grabbing introduction that frames your contribution to the organization, you can then list more specific accomplishments in bullet points.

Include Social-Media Links.

According to Glassdoor, more than 90 percent of recruiters review an applicant’s social-media profiles during the hiring process. This means that you have an opportunity to be proactive and transparent by including profile links with your resume. Offering links to your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles can help illustrate your personality and professionalism.

Be Visually Effective.

While updating your resume, try to implement a design that is eye catching but not distracting. Career advisor and author Louise Kursmark suggests using pops of color, such as blue section headers, to create a resume that is both professional and unique. For a more modern look, you can update your resume’s font to a newer typeface, such as Calibri or Cambria. You can also help recruiters more easily process your resume by eliminating a personal photo or graphics.

Most importantly, the design elements of your resume should be based on the job and industry. For instance, a graphic artist can use designs and visuals in his or her resume to showcase skills, whereas this approach would not work for an accountant.

Use Callout Boxes.

To highlight important information apart from using bullet points or paragraphs, you can use callout boxes. These boxes not only draw attention to your most significant accomplishments, but they also distinguish your resume from the hundreds of other list-style resumes.

Be Honest.

Even though it may be tempting to overemphasize your experience or achievements, it’s always best to honestly and realistically outline your abilities in your resume. Hiring managers will be wary of resumes that appear too perfect. While resume embellishments might get you an interview, they won’t help you find and secure a position that is a good fit for you and the employer.

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