3 Ways to Improve Your Resume

This fall I made the decision to become a mentor to a college student participating in the same internship program I completed three years ago. After a short questionnaire and a few weeks of waiting, I was paired with a college senior who was interested in learning about life after college and how to feel more comfortable entering the workforce for the first time. If I remember correctly, her first email to me said she felt like an imposter when in the office, a feeling I think most of us can relate to when we start working a real job.

After a few weeks of getting to know her I recommended she not leave DC without first showing me her resume because after three years of job experience and multiple positions, I can always find a way to make any resume look better.

How to improve your resume in three easy ways to increase your chances of getting an interview.

While having dinner at a nearby pupusa restaurant, I was reminded of the mistakes new graduates make with their resumes. It's no wonder new graduates have trouble finding work, our resumes typically look like we're desperate to mention everything we ever participated in, even if the most we did was show up for the free food and community service hours. Below are the three things you can change to make your resume stand out.

You're repeating the same experience again and again

The biggest mistake I see on resumes of soon to be graduates is repeating the same tasks and job duties again and again. While I totally understand that most internships will have interns complete similar tasks, there's no reason to word all of your bullet points the same way.

To really step up your resume writing skills, choose different tasks from each job to highlight, avoiding altogether the need to reword the same experience. What this means is if you mention clerical work in one position, don't mention it again for the rest of your work experience. Jobs and internships have so much they require of you, meaning there's no need to say the same thing twice.

Tips for describing your work experience

  • aim to make each description different from the previous one
  • tailor your description around an action verb (examples: managed, facilitated, developed)
  • utilize the job posting to accurately describe the job expectations you completed

You're not tailoring your experience, only mention what matters

It took me longer than I'd like to admit for me to begin tailoring my resume to each specific job application. What I mean by tailoring your resume is rewriting your resume so that it mimics the job requirements of the position you're applying for.

For example, when I was applying for receptionist positions, I removed all experience that didn't reflect skills and experience that were relevant to the jobs I was applying for. In addition, I selected keywords from the job posting and included them in the work descriptions on my resume.

Tips for tailoring your resume

  • pull keywords from the job posting to add to your resume (use them in past work experience)
  • remove past work experience that is not applicable to the job you're applying for
  • expand the descriptions of relevant work experience (remove unrelated positions and add an additional bullet point to each relevant experience)

You're adding details you don't need

The thing I was once most guilty of, mentioning work experience on my resume that had absolutely no relevance to the position I was applying for. True story, when I applied for graduate school I was expected to submit a resume/CV with my application, and for some crazy reason I submitted a two-page resume. Two full pages!

What new graduate has two legitimate pages worth of experience? Certainly not me! In reality, I had filled two pages with every internship, volunteer, and work opportunity from the past four years of my life, with only a third of the experience being of any relevance or importance to my graduate application. Save yourself the effort and space and cut out any experience that isn't directly relevant to the position you're applying for. Yes, it will make your resume shorter, but in the end, all of the information on your new resume will be both relevant and impressive to prospective employers.

Tips for keeping your resume relevant:

  • remove any experience that is more than four years old
  • chose the past positions that make you look best, don't be afraid to cut out a recent one and highlight something prior
  • limit your job descriptions to 3-4 bullet points, with all positions having the same number of descriptive lines
  • add additional skillsets at the bottom of your resume, dedicate 5-6 lines to listing additional skills you may have (ex: Excel, languages you speak, typing speed, software you're familiar with)

Tell me, what questions do you have when it comes to writing a kick-ass resume? Leave your questions in the comments below and I'll either reply directly to your comment or write an entire post on the topic!

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How to improve your resume in three easy ways to increase your chances of getting an interview.

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