Three Steps to a Healthier Resume | Jobs In NJ

Three Steps to a Healthier Resume

By: Margaret Hansen

With the unemployment rate continuing to climb, it only makes sense to keep up with the competition (your fellow job seekers). Giving your resume a fresh update is a practical move. Old standards still apply, but today's resume "kit" also includes an online search-friendly version. Follow these steps to improve your resume's health for today's job market.

Step #1: Proofread

Reading your resume aloud is a great way to catch typos, inconsistent tense and unclear language. You can do this yourself or enlist a friend. But don't forget to do it.

Although your resume is more of a list than an essay, someone still has to read it and understand it. Give yourself a day or two after updating it for a fresh perspective. The employer will notice if you have skipped the proofread.

Pick a tense and stick with it. Under each job, stay consistent with tense, using past tense for past jobs and present tense for your current situation.

Keep items in a series parallel. Don't say "Managed 12 associates, created new employee manual, company recognized my work with awards and chaired cross-functional team." Instead, move the 3rd item out of the series to its own sentence and get specific: "Recipient of Leadership Teamwork Award, 2007." The past tense verbs of "managed," "created," and "chaired" are parallel.

Consistency allows your resume to speak for itself without distracting the reader. Let them remember your skills, not your resume blunders.

Step #2: Add Keywords

Think online. Having a resume is required. Having one online is better. Most resumes today are stored online somewhere - be it on a job board or in a company's applicant tracking database.

Increase your resume's chances of coming up in an employer's search by including several relevant keywords.

What exactly are keywords? Think of your job duties, personality type, skills, education, job titles you've held and job titles that you wish to hold and make a list. Research job boards and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and take note. Then, make sure that these words are on your resume.

Just keywords. No logical place within the confines of your resume for all of your keywords? No worries. Include them anyway. Add a paragraph at the bottom with a bold header named, appropriately enough, "Keywords." Separate them by commas.

Step #3: Less Is More

Spare the reader. Take a pen (or your mouse) and cross out any words your resume can live without. Words like "I was, also, very, and really" can waste valuable real estate. You'll save the reader's time and score some favorability points.

Stick to an outline. Bulleted lists read better than giant paragraphs. Bold your headers and use sub-headers. Provide easy, uncluttered reading with enough of the right words to keep it interesting.

Your ultimate goal: to land an interview. Don't include everything you've ever done since 2nd grade. Be concise and intriguing enough for the employer to want more information. Craft your resume toward an ideal job.

Apply these three steps to your resume on a regular basis and it will be healthy enough to turn some heads.

Post or update your resume now.

Margaret Hansen has been writing professionally since receiving a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maine. She has worked for multiple organizations as a weekly newspaper reporter, a weekly newspaper editor, and in a variety of internal/external marketing communications roles. Her freelance career has focused on writing and editing for print, email and web publications in the employment industry, as well as manuscript editing and resume writing.