Opportunity Knocks: Improve Your Resume In 5 Steps

Maritza De La Cruz, Sr. Staff Recruiter

Opportunity Knocks: Improve Your Resume In 5 Steps

When was the last time you updated your resume? The job market is always changing, and you never know when the next great opportunity might come along. Don’t let a weak resume stop you—especially if the job looks like a perfect fit! Taking a fresh look at the classic career-booster can help you prepare for your next step and put your best foot forward.

Shine on: making your resume count

Recruiters and hiring managers usually have lots of resumes to review when considering which candidates to call in for interviews. That means you have only a few moments to make a great impression. You need a resume that quickly and clearly communicates your value and demonstrates what makes you a top contender.

Here are 5 steps to set your resume (and yourself!) apart from the crowd:

1. Pick the right format

When determining what your resume should look like, there’s no one-size fits all answer.

  • A chronological resume shows what you have done most recently, moving backwards. It’s best for those with a steady career path in the same field and who are applying for a similar job. 
  • A functional resume more closely targets the job you’re going after, highlighting your relevant skills and any experience you may have. This format is best for people who are making a career change or who have gaps in their employment history.
  • A combination resume takes the best of both! It tend to work well for people making a career and industry change, or for someone who is a “master” in their field1

2. Aim for clean and concise

Your resume needs to be simple, professional, and easy-to-read. Here are tips to hit the target:

  • Details and grammar matter-remember to spell check.
  • Make it one-sided, although slightly longer is fine if you have many years’ experience.
  • Limit descriptions to 3-4 lines and use bullet points to help make key details easy to comprehend at-a-glance.
  • Use smooth sans serif fonts like Arial, Veranda, Tahoma, or Helvetica, and keep your font size between 10.5 and 12 point.
  • Include enough comfortable white space between paragraphs and in margins to avoid crowding and potential printing issues.
  • You can save space by eliminating the standard “Objective” section unless it’s different than what your experience suggests and needs to be clarified.

3. “Wow” them

What makes you stand out? You bring a unique set of skills, experiences, and expertise to each job—and your resume needs to highlight these. The idea is to show what you can do for an employer—not what you want from them. Forbes suggests asking yourself the following questions:2 

  • When have I been first or best?
  • What is the No. 1 thing I achieved in each position?
  • Which of my achievements have the most impressive numbers?
  • What have I been publicly recognized for?

And make sure the answers appear in your resumé—the can’t-miss details should be placed in the top third of the document. It’s not a bad idea to customize your resume for each job category or industry you’re targeting to make your skills ultra-relevant.

Numbers, dollar signs, and percentage points really stick out. So when applicable, be sure to show how much money you saved a company, how much you grew sales, etc. You can even place “wow” content in its own category, such as “Media Mentions,” “Honors and Awards,” or “Sales Accomplishments.”

4. Fast-forward to 2017

Make sure your resume reflects the lingo and technology in today’s job market. Here are some tips:

  • Swap out your old lingo for the current language of your profession. For ideas, look at terms used in job postings, in the  “About Us” sections of company websites, and in companies’ social media conversations.
  • Digital applicant tracking systems/software look for keywords, so you’ll want to optimize your resume for terms used in the job posting.
  • Refresh your resume’s action words. Instead of the classic responsible for and handled, try: like, controlled, executed, devised, launched, boosted, expanded, maximized, revitalized, inspired, mentored, and resolved. Get more ideas at TheMuse.com
  • Omit experience that dates back further than 10 years unless it’s essential to your career story. And you can also leave out graduation dates and GPAs, too, unless you’re a recent grad and don’t have a lot of work experience included in your resume.3 
  • Include live links to your email address, professional blog, and relevant social media accounts (most notably, LinkedIn).
  • Today’s resumes should include just one phone number (preferably a cell phone) and one email address. And you can eliminate your full mailing address, as your city, state, and ZIP code are all you need.2
  • Your resume should parallel your LinkedIn page, which is essentially your virtual resume. When you update one, update the other, so there’s always consistency in what you’re presenting to prospective employers.

5. Send it over to Combined Insurance!

Ready to see where the supplemental insurance industry can take your career? Check out our job opportunities today.

 

References:

1 Facebook.com/theinterviewguys. “Best Resume Format Guide For 2017.” TheInterviewGuys.com, 2 May 2017, theinterviewguys.com/best-resume-format-guide/. Accessed 12 May 2017.

2 Avenue, Next. "8 Critical Ways To Improve Your Resume." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 12 May 2017. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2016/02/09/8-critical-ways-to-improve-your-resume/#6e655cf01bc9>.

3 "What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2017 | Money." Time. Time, n.d. Web. 12 May 2017. <http://time.com/money/4621066/free-resume-word-template-2017/>. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram

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