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Posted on March 7, 2018

How to Write a Kick-ass Resume

Nine Rules for Writing a Kick-Ass Resume

It’s time for a change, people. If you’re not updating your resume regularly, you’re behind the times.

I had done a terrible job of tracking my personal growth and updating my skills and accomplishments throughout my tenure at my previous job. My role had evolved over time, but my resume only reflected the basic duties I had when I first began. How much time I could have saved by simply updating my resume every time I took on a new task or challenge is mind boggling.

Having an accurate and up-to-date resume is critical, but the little things matter the most. Here are nine tips I picked up along the way that helped me put my best foot forward.

1. Make sure it’s legible.
Using a common font (e.g. Helvetica, Arial, or Times New Roman) will make your resume more readable and less likely to be rejected by applicant tracking systems.
Pro tip: increasing your margins and line spacing makes resumes easier to read and gives you more space. Check out this handy infographic from Undercover Recruiter for more resume formatting tips!

2. Get rid of unnecessary phrases.
They take up valuable space. It’s time to stop saying “references available upon request.” If they want references, they’ll ask.
Delete any mentions of your birthdate, marital status, or religion. (By the way, it’s illegal for a company to ask for this information!)

3. Delete your home address.
If you’re not local, recruiters might cut you first. Even if you are local, they could take your morning commute into consideration and deem it too long. Either way, it can hurt your chances at landing a position.

4. Include your LinkedIn.
Make sure you hyperlink correctly and save your resume as a PDF to avoid formatting irregularities.
Pro tip: Make your links pretty! Create a personalized LinkedIn URL, or use a free URL shortening service like Bitly to ensure any links on your resume aren’t cramping your style.

5. Update that pesky “skills” section.
Personally, this has always been the most daunting task. On a basic level, add any new skills you’ve gained and remove anything outdated (spoiler alert: people expect you to be fluent in Microsoft Office). If you’re lucky and have many skills, such as foreign language proficiency, software expertise, or leadership experience, break them up so they stand out.

6. Be a word nerd.
Upload your resume into a word cloud generator (we recommend WordArt.com!) to find out which keywords pop. Tweak your language to make it clearer and highlight the keywords you want noticed.

7. Pay attention to your tenses.
Refer to your current job in present tense. Use past tense for all previous jobs. Don’t use personal pronouns–it is understood that everything on your resume is about your own experiences.

8. A template is your friend.
TheMuse has a great selection of successful and readable resume templates. Try them out!

9. Use hard facts.
This is where tracking your success and accomplishments daily comes in handy. Companies like to see numbers. It’s okay to roughly estimate, just be aware of what you are able to prove and not prove.

Changing fonts, formatting, and tweaking keywords can all be accomplished in a matter of minutes. The real battle is tracking your success and growth. Why not take five minutes at the end of each week to reflect on what you did well? You did the work, so now it’s time to celebrate and acknowledge your accomplishments. Your future self will thank you later.

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Tess Palladino