As many of you know, my career involves helping transitioning candidates develop effective job search strategies. Given a solid resume is an essential element, stands to reason I'm often asked by friends if I will help them with their resumes too. Now to be honest, it's kinda the last thing I actually want to be doing in my leisure time...unless your reward involves a crate of Krug Private Cuvée Champers, six nights in the Seychelles, a bevy of gorgeous...wait! No!
Instead, here’s a five-step editing plan that will help you take your own resume from good to pretty damn impressive...you're welcome!
Editing is more than just giving your resume a once-over to eliminate egregious typos and grammar mistakes. It’s about looking at it with a critical eye, then making changes to ensure it’s the best it can possibly be.
And that’s what you want for your resume, right? Soooo....first up:
1: Consider the Resume's Aim
On that first read, ignore typos and formatting and think about the overall message your resume is sending. For each section, ask yourself the following:
• Is my email address professional? ('email@example.com' just won't do ok?)
• Have I added my LinkedIn URL below my email address and mobile number?
• Does my summary start with my 'functional title' e.g. 'Sales Executive' with expertise in....'
• Does my title follow with skills as they relate to the expectations of the job for which I'm applying?
• Does it summarise the actual strengths and experience I've demonstrated in the body of the resume?
• Does my summary sell me well enough to entice the reader to read more?
• What makes my experience stand out among other similarly experienced candidates?
• Are there gaps between the experience on the pages and experience required for the job?
• If so, what can I add to supplement those gaps?
• Are my responsibilities nicely summarized in a tidy three line sentence?
• Do my achievements demonstrate what I actually did with my responsibilities that made a difference in my past jobs?
• Do my achievements answer the critical questions - 'Why? (Challenge) How? (Actions) and So What? (Results)
• Have I quantified results as proof of outcomes?
• Have I started each achievement with an action verb?
• Have I edited my achievements back to sharp three line sentences?
• No more than 10-12 years history included?
• Have I included the name of the institutes from which I gained my formal qualifications?
• And listed the most relevant professional development courses I've attended?
• Is there anything in the document that doesn’t need to be, such as hobbies, date of birth, marital status?
• Does the overall document sell me as the perfect candidate for the role?
Insider tip: Quantify the results in achievements where possible. The critical difference between an average resume and a brilliant one.
Now to editing. Walk through your resume again and look at every section, every sentence, and every word and determine if there’s a better way to get your point across:
• Is this the strongest possible language I can use?
• Can anything be said more clearly? Or in fewer words?
• Have I used technical language that someone outside my company or industry might not understand?
• Have my acronyms been spelt out? (Don't assume the reader will understand them)
• Are there any words I've used repeatedly? Can they be replaced with more creative language?
Insider tip: Send your resume to your selected referees, ask them for feedback and adjust accordingly, after all, they'll be the ones substantiating your claims when called for reference.
3: Double Check Facts and Stats
Now review your resume again, this time asking yourself:
• Are the companies I've worked for named the same thing today?
• Are my position titles accurate?
• Are my employment dates correct?
• Are the stats I've used to describe increases, budgets, savings and achievements (reasonably) accurate?
Insider tip: Another reason to seek referee feedback. The facts need to weigh up with their recall.
4: Double Proofread
You can review your document for hours and still fail to notice that you've used 'lead' instead of 'led', 'there' instead of 'their', 'manger' instead of 'manager'. Don't rely on Spell-check alone. Proofreading one last time is a step you simply can’t neglect. More questions to ask:
• Are there any typos? Wrong word usage?
• Do each of my bullet points end with a period (or not)? Either is fine, just be consistent.
• Are my commas in the right place?
• Is my sentence structure grammatically consistent?
• Is everything written in past tense?
• Have I removed all personal pronouns e.g. 'I', 'we', 'our'?
• Are the pages numbered in the footer?
• Is my name on each page in the header?
Insider tip: When proofreading, it’s helpful to read your resume from the bottom up. Again, have someone you trust review for grammar and consistency.
5: Aesthetic Appeal
Now it's time to give it a final once-over with a designer’s eye, considering:
• Does each page look visually appealing?
• Are the pages overly cluttered?
• The font too small? Difficult to read?
• Bullet points used for easy readability?
• Do the headings stand out?
• Is the font size and formatting for each section consistent?
• Does the layout make sense?
• No more than three pages max?
Insider Tip: Make your document easier on the eye by leaving plenty of white space.
Editing your resume to ensure it's sharp and focused, sells you effectively and is error free can be exciting, challenging and rewarding all in one. Why? It reminds you of just how much you've accomplished in your career. And that boosts your confidence. Which in turn better prepares you for typical behavioural interviews. And opportunity to negotiate salary because you now know your worth. And ultimately...it can land you that job!
Oh! And if you need someone to share your celebratory Champers with, you know where to find me!