Your Best Year Ever continues into 2016! This month, the co-founders of Fairygodboss, a site dedicated to improving the workplace for women, offer advice on how to balance your own act. Say hello to a happier nine-to-five this August-and ever after....
Who says that improving your résumé has to require hours of wordsmithing or professional analysis? Sometimes, forcing yourself to make quick improvements can be even more effective than a long editing session because of the focus it requires. If you've got a tight deadline, here's where to direct your energies. Note: To be clear, we are not advocating that you spend just a cool 10 minutes preparing your resume. But if you've got a working document in pretty decent starting shape, these quick tips will give it that extra, attention-grabbing sparkle. Consider this as less face-lift, more Friday night contour session.
Step #1: Show Off Your Muscle
Move your top three strengths to the top half of your résumé so someone can easily spot them in a quick scan. (Recruiters have been known to spend as few as six seconds skimming résumés, so make sure that the things that are most important and "best" about you as a candidate stand out.) Help recruiters out by putting important things toward the top of the page, and don't be afraid to highlight them in bold or use capital headings. Whatever you do, make sure your qualifications aren't sitting at the bottom of the page.
"This one action can prevent you from being inadvertently screened out of the running."
Step #2: Keywords Are Major Key
It's important to remember that it's not only human beings who review this document: tracking software often searches through countless applications in order to uncover only those most relevant for the position. If you have 10 minutes to spend on a résumé make-over, spend at least a few on making sure the keywords for a job you want are actually listed. For example, if you're interested in a sales role with the job title "Business Development" in it, make sure the bullet point description following the title of your last job which was, say, "Account Executive" includes something like "responsible for business development." Though it may feel a little on the nose, this one action can prevent you from being inadvertently screened out of the running.
Step #3: Cut the Fluff
After you've emphasized your strengths and plugged in keywords, ask yourself whether you really need to include your summer intensive French course, or whether your part-time position in college (however important it may have been to you at the time) still matters. Every year or two, what matters changes as you gain more work experience (as does where your educational credentials go). If you really are so experienced that you need a two-page résumé, so be it, but keep in mind that some career experts insist you shouldn't go to two pages unless you've had at least a decade of experience.
Out of time yet? Be sure to leave a minute or two to double check grammar and spelling and to make sure you adhere to a consistent format and layout. After all, at some point, a human being will actually read this. We promise.