It's easy to fall in a rut when it comes to creating and building a résumé — that template you used in Microsoft Word 2007? Probably a good idea to revisit and revamp.
It's not just the formatting and design that should be clean and catchy. The actual text on your résumé speaks volumes, too — it's safe to say that every component on the doc is superimportant! So if your résumé needs a little TLC, here are six ways you can brush off the dust and make it like new again, as provided by the experts.
1. Tell a story.
Your résumé should tell your professional tale clearly, concisely, and in a fashion that keeps the hiring manager's attention. "If, after reading your own résumé, you are in the mood for a nap . . . you've done something wrong," says Jill Jacinto, a millennial career expert for WORKS. "A great résumé inspires and energizes the reader. Make your words jump off the page! The best way to do this is to tell a story. Don't say, 'I'm a creative director.' Instead, highlight a project or presentation where your creative skills were put to the test, and [you] succeeded." Success stories are the best kind, after all.
2. Use keywords you spot in job descriptions.
"Have you ever realized that the job description is actually a map key to your résumé?" Jacinto says. "It's giving you clues in terms of words and phrases for what the hiring manager is looking for. Make sure to speak the same language and highlight the same examples they will be looking for." So if you see "The candidate should be familiar with Excel" in a job posting, for instance, then make sure to include the course you took on Excel in your résumé.
3. Cut out the unnecessary stuff.
FYI: You probably have a lot of crap on your résumé that doesn't actually add to your overall image (plus, employers will likely skip over the fluffy stuff, anyway!). "It's important that hiring managers know how you're spending your time at work, but they don't need to know about the 40 percent of your job that you don't want to be branded by," says Ashley Stahl, a career and business coach for millennials. "For example, if you're filing almost half of the time yet applying for a job that demands a significantly increased amount of responsibility, really focus on the work you do that requires more from you. Do your future self a favor and focus on the accomplishments you're proud of. Pick from that file of your career experience wisely when drafting your bullets."
Hallie Crawford, career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com, backs up the notion that short and sweet is how to do it. "Try not to be too lengthy — remember, you have less than five seconds to make an impact, so to the point is best," Crawford says. Pack the punch succinctly!
4. Categorize your résumé.
Jenn DeWall, a career and life coach for female professionals, envisions a way to manually lay out your résumé so it captures anyone's attention. "Instead of starting with a résumé template, create a running list of all of your accomplishments," DeWall says. "Write down specific experiences/work assignments, responsibilities, and above-and-beyond work you have done within your role. Once the list is completed, break it out into career-related categories, like leadership, project management, negotiation, etc. The topics will vary depending on the field, but try to categorize it by the topics that are desired and sought after within your field. Be sure to list your experiences in a descending order from most relevant skill sets that the company is looking for to least relevant."
If you have a master list of all your skills rather than accomplishments that run together messily, it's easier to personalize your résumé based on the profession you're applying for, DeWall says. Not every employer is looking for the same thing, so be sure to tailor your résumé to each individual job prospect.
5. Make the language more compelling.
Good writing is key to a résumé that stands out. "Start your sentences with active verbs," Crawford says. "Remove all first-case pronouns — your résumé should be written in first-case implied. Include measurable results where possible. Watch for run-on sentences. Be direct."
6. Think big picture.
Overall, what have you achieved? "When considering your résumé verbiage, think big picture — you want the employer to see how well you can manage and operate at a high level," DeWall says. "High level and big-picture thinkers are typically the individuals who excel to the leadership positions, because they don't get caught up in the details of any given situation or project. Show them in your résumé how you can see the relevance between what your responsibilities are and how it benefited the company at a total level." Draw hiring managers in by listing the larger ways you contributed to your past employers, because that's what they want to see.
DeWall says that instead of using the phrase "I developed teams and partnerships," for example, try "I facilitated the collaboration of cross-functional teams to ensure projects were on time and of optimal quality, which improved our bottom line results." Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am.