At Shortlist, we help candidates demonstrate their skills to show that they’re a great fit for a job. Most employers are looking for a mix of ability, which you can show on our assessments, and experience, which is where the CV comes in. Candidates often come to us asking for guidance on how to improve a resume so we wrote this blog post to have all of our top tips in one place!
We’ve broken down the CV into its key parts, sharing both the essential must-haves for how to improve a resume and the extra bells and whistles!
1. Contact Information
The basics: This should appear at the top of your resume and include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Triple-check that your information is correct and up to date. If you are applying for a job outside the city you live in and are willing to relocate, indicate the same.
Extra insight: Avoid giving irrelevant information, like your date of birth and marital status, unless requested on the job profile.
2. Personal Statement
The basics: This is your opportunity to showcase your experience, achievements, as well as your career aspirations to your potential employer. The statement should answer three important questions:
- Who are you?
- What can you do for the organization?
- What are you seeking in your next job?
If you’re wondering how to improve a resume, resist the urge to use a generalized statement to suit any application, instead make this specific to the role you are applying for. While it may take time to customize this statement for each role, it makes all the difference… Consider the key requirements for the role and use these to phrase your statement to show that you are perfectly suited for the position.
Extra insight: For a fresh graduate, since you may not have much experience to site, focus on your interests. Additionally, showcase the skills you have attained and how they are relevant to the job.
3. Skills and Qualifications
The basics: Remember to give the recruiter exactly what they want and in the easiest way possible and not have them struggle to find relevant information. While writing this particular section, it is important to keep in mind the industry keywords that are relevant to different roles.
- Data Scientist roles often require programming skills in languages like Python and R.
- Business Development requires critical skills like analytical thinking and communication skills, and sometimes financial modeling, among others.
- Customer Service roles require skills in problem-solving, communication, attention to detail, and demonstrating empathy.
Extra insight: As your working on how to improve a resume, go through the job description and pick out the must-have skills and qualifications that you possess. Ensure that these are what the employer sees first while reviewing your resume. Some organizations use applicant tracking systems that will scan for keywords in your CV. Hence, it’s even more important to include words and phrases from the job description.
This being the meat of your resume, you want to ensure that you clearly and honestly present your employment history.
The essentials in this section include the company name, your title, years you were employed and a summary (preferably in bullet points) of your responsibilities and accomplishments.
More importantly, as much as possible, do try to quantify your achievements in terms of numbers or other concrete performance measures.
For sales roles, to improve a resume, you may choose to show your impact by using statements such as:
- Increased customer engagement and online presence by…
- Strengthened performance by…
For finance roles, showcase your knowledge of the industry and share achievements that demonstrate your ability to maximise the utilization of financial resources.
For managerial roles, leadership skills are essential.
- Showcase how you have lead teams towards the achievements of organizational objectives.
- Showcase how you have also contributed towards the professional development of your employees. For example, training programmes that have been implemented, mentoring team members into junior/mid-senior level managers are some of the things you can highlight.
For customer service roles, showcase how you have contributed to ensuring excellent customer experience to your clients:
- Mention instances where you developed a program and/or implemented a system which increased the efficiency of a product or service offered by the organisation. Leading to Customer retention.
For more experienced professionals who have worked across different sectors, you do not need to include jobs that are not related to the one you are applying for.
Entry-level individuals who do not have on the job experience should include any temporary positions, internships or volunteer work that emphasise the skills related to the job.
5. Hobbies and Interests
The basics: If you are new in the job market or do not have a lot of experience, this can be the place to differentiate yourself. You never know when your side hustle, hobby or passion will connect with a hiring manager. For example, listing team sports or activities would indicate that you would be a good team player. Additionally, social hobbies, such as mentoring, suggest that you can communicate and connect well with others. These can help find a fit where otherwise the role may have been a stretch.
When figuring out how to improve a resume, don’t forget…
Proofread your resume. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatically incorrect sentences.
Your resume should be well organised, with uniform font, punctuation, and spacing. Use soft and easily readable fonts like Calibri, Garamond Cambria, Times New Roman or Trebuchet MS. Moreover, avoid the use of bold and weighty fonts such as Impact, and the same goes for unnecessary graphics, logos and pictures.
Have someone you trust to read and give you their honest opinion as well as suggest changes where necessary.
Check out these sample resumes that illustrate a majority of the points I covered above in this guide on how to improve a resume. I hope these tips will be helpful to as you chase your next big break!
We’d love to hear from you!
Share your tried-and-true resume-writing tips in the comments. Do let me know what other career-related topics you would like to learn about.
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