Resume Tips to Give Your Resume the Edge

resume tips, resume writing tips, photo of paper and pencilTry this advice for making great improvements to your resume

Writing a resume is a critical step in your job search. You probably already have a boilerplate resume stored on your computer. But is this resume strong enough? Are you careful to customize it every time you apply for a job? If not, there are some simple steps that you can take to improve your resume and increase your chances of getting noticed. Try these tips next time you need to submit a resume. With these tips, you can work to craft a resume that maximizes your strengths and shows the hiring manager why you are the best candidate for the job.

1. Be careful what jobs you apply for.
Some people send out as many resumes as they possibly can, thinking that this will improve the odds of getting called in for an interview. But generally, this approach does not work. Sending out too many resumes for too many jobs is usually a bad strategy, because many of the jobs will not be a good fit for you. Instead, study job descriptions carefully, and make sure you are highly qualified before you spend your time applying. Think quality over quantity.

2. Customize your resume for each job you are applying to.
Your resume needs to be closely aligned with the job responsibilities that are outlined in the job posting. You want the employer to see how you are qualified for the position and bring the right skills and experience to the job.

3. Focus on your accomplishments (and less on your duties).
Part of your resume will contain your job experiences in the past. Make sure you focus on the things you accomplished in those jobs, rather than simply listing your past duties. This might include describing how you solved a problem, improved a process, or achieved a targeted outcome.

4. Highlight measurable/quantifiable results.
Employers want to know how you have made a positive impact in past jobs. Hiring managers like to see measurable, concrete evidence, such as number of clients served, percentage increase in sales, or other metrics used to measure success.

5. Put the most impressive/relevant part first.
Most hiring managers spend only a few seconds looking at a resume before moving on to the next one. For this reason, you want to have your most important parts at the beginning of your resume. This may be a past job that is relevant to the new job. Or it could be your education/training, if you have just graduated. Whatever it is, make sure it shows how you are qualified for the job.

6. Keep it simple and concise.
Keep your resume clean and simple. Hiring managers will not want to read unnecessary words. Aim to keep it to one page, unless you are applying to a high-level position where a multi-page resume is appropriate.

7. Use keywords.
Because most resumes are reviewed by applicant tracker systems, it’s very important to customize your resume with keywords. Look carefully at the job posting, and try to identify which words are the main job-related words. Be sure to use these same terms in your resume, including using the job title itself somewhere in the resume.

8. Keep the formatting simple.
Applicant tracker systems sometimes get tripped up when scanning resumes that are too heavily formatted. Avoid symbols, accent marks, headers/footers, borders, lines, columns, or shading. Usually bullet points are okay to use. Use a standard font like Arial, Calibri, or Georgia. You don’t want to have your resume overlooked because of a formatting issue.

9. Get feedback.
If you have access to a Career Services professional at your school, make an appointment to have your resume reviewed. These professionals are trained to help you make important improvements to your resume.

10. Ask someone to proofread the final draft.
You want to have your resume error-free, and sometimes it’s hard to notice your own mistakes. Ask a trusted friend or mentor to read your resume to catch the small errors in spelling or grammar.

In addition to a strong resume, most resumes need to be accompanied by a cover letter. Use these cover letter tips to craft a strong cover letter for your next job application.

We hope this advice helps you feel more comfortable with the process of writing your resume. Remember, your resume is your chance to show the employer what you have to offer and why you are uniquely qualified for the job. Take the time to put your best foot forward and show the employer you’ve got what it takes!


The Harris School of Business provides student resources and job-related advice in its weekly blog. Check back often for the latest!