Article by contributor Michelle Riklan.
It’s hard to know where and how to start updating your resume, especially if you haven’t updated it in a while.
Should your resume be one page or two pages? Which of your accomplishments and skills will convince a recruiter to call you for an interview? All these questions might be running in your mind, unless you’re happy with sending 26 resumes just to get a couple of interviews that don’t even lead to a job offer.
You don’t need days to upgrade your resume. Just follow the simple tweaks below and you’ll already be ahead of other candidates.
How to Level Up Your Resume Quickly
1. Position Impressive Accomplishments and Skills at the Top
Recruiters only scan your resume for about six seconds. So if the information at the top of your resume doesn’t catch their attention, that’s it for you.
Use the top one third of your resume for accomplishments specific to the job you’re applying for. Think about the skills mentioned in the job ad, then write accomplishments where you used those skills. Be honest though, and don’t lie.
Don’t waste the space on a big header of your name and phone number. Recruiters know that information is already at the top, so you don’t need to make it noticeable with a big font.
2. Use Numbers Whenever Possible
Numbers stand out when you write them as is, compared to when you spell them out. It also saves space—100 is shorter than one hundred, right? In a world of short attention spans, that space saving trick makes your resume more reader-friendly to busy recruiters.
Quantifying your skills and accomplishments also makes them concrete to anyone gauging your value as a candidate.
“Exceeded the monthly sales quota by 15% after implementing a new sales strategy”
“Directed a team of 4 to 6 architects to finish a luxury condominium complex on schedule.
3. Prove Your Soft Skills
I’ve read hundreds of resumes where the candidate claimed to have “good communication skills” and “attention to detail.”
As much as I want to believe the applicant, I can’t take their word for it. Recruiters probably feel the same way so don’t waste valuable resume space listing these soft skills. Prove them instead.
“Showed new-hires how to use the customer request ticketing system”
The above example proves you’re a good communicator because you can explain how a technical ticketing system works to someone totally unfamiliar with it.
4. Include Continuing Education
Education doesn’t stop after college. So your degree shouldn’t be the only item listed under the education section of your resume. Add seminars, courses, and conferences you’ve attended. It doesn’t matter if you paid for it on your own, or it was conducted by your employer as a product training refresher, it’s still a learning experience.
To list continuing education, write the training event you attended, followed by the facilitator or training company’s name, and the date.
5. Add a Supplement
Your LinkedIn page and portfolio can supplement the qualifications in your resume. After all, it’s impossible to list all your accomplishments in a two-page document.
Include the link of your online portfolio and LinkedIn account on the top, right after your contact details and address.
If you don’t have a portfolio, a blog or website about your field can show evidence of your expertise. For instance, if you’re a fresh graduate with a degree in finance, writing blog posts about how to pay off debt, or how to invest money, will show evidence of your knowledge on this topic.
# 1 Tip You Shouldn’t Forget
Here’s the number one tip you shouldn’t forget: follow up.
Your application might perfectly fit the job, but you will still be competing with hundreds of applicants. If a recruiter doesn’t respond to your application within a week, send a polite follow-up email.
Just emphasize that you’re interested in the job then ask if they’ve had a chance to read your resume. Of course, you should attach your resume on the follow-up email so the recruiter doesn’t have to go look for it.
Michelle Riklan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and the Chief Career Marketing Strategist at Riklan Resources LLC. Before helping others with their careers, Michelle gained extensive HR leadership experience in Fortune 500 companies. Aside from individuals, she also helps small businesses and large corporations in different aspects of HR and Career Management. Follow her on Twitter at @ResumeWoman.