24 Easy Steps To Upgrade Your Résumé

Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
No matter what industry you may be applying for, résumés still matter. And even if you’ve gotten an interview due to connections (some statistics cite that over 70% of jobs are landed due to networking), you’ve still got to produce a piece of paper formally listing your credentials. Here, how to rock your résumé — so you can focus on nailing the interview.

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This should be a no-brainer, but there's nothing that turns a hiring manager off more quickly than a typo in your résumé. So proofread the doc. And then have your mom read it, and your best friend, and your mentor, and that acquaintance from college who was a grammar whiz. And then take a break before you read it a final time. Typos happen, but they don't need to prevent you from getting a job.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Not only do the lines take up valuable space, but the not-so-necessary info can subconsciously sway recruiters and hiring managers. They might see an out-of-the way address and assume you won’t handle the commute well or see an out-of-state city and assume you aren’t interested in the position. A telephone number and email address is enough.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Surprisingly, tons of hiring managers say their biggest pet peeve is getting oddly formatted résumés in their inbox. Saving and sending as a PDF is the bare minimum of professionalism; if you haven’t gotten into the habit yet, do so now.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
In this day and age, you can and should expect recruiters to assess you based on your digital life. Help them out by adding a link to your LinkedIn, as well as your Twitter handle or Instagram account, if you’re an influencer who has a big network. Having that information on your résumé shows you understand that your virtual life is one more part of how you present yourself.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
If you’re applying through a portal, chances are, your résumé is being scanned before it gets in the hands of a human, says Dana Leavy-Detrick, résumé consultant and chief creative scribe at the Brooklyn Résumé Studio. Choose SEO-optimized words for your industry (look at the job profile and use as many of those words as possible).

For example, if you’re applying for a marketing manager position and the job description states it's looking for a candidate that has CMS and marketing automation experience, make sure the résumé you’re submitting through a job portal contains those keywords. For an in-person interview, you can rely on a more creative, less jargon-driven version to show the hiring manager.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Grew traffic by 30%? Managed $1 million in assets? Whatever it is, using numbers is way more effective than just words, says résumé designer Hagan Blount. Check out some examples of how he’s managed to incorporate hard numbers in résumé designs, here.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
People may see that you graduated a decade ago and consider you too experienced for a position, regardless of whether you switched career paths. Less than five may make you seen too green. Katie, 32, an editor, noticed that her résumé got a lot more attention once she took her graduation year off.

“I know it’s anecdotal, but I decided to follow the editorial track when I was 27. I was a lot older than the other people gunning for assistant positions, and when I had my graduation year and all my other jobs listed, the hiring managers would assume I didn’t want to be an assistant. That wasn’t true. I didn’t lie, but I found that not having years on my résumé made it a lot easier to keep the focus of the discussion based on what I could do and how I could benefit the company.”
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Based on what job you’re applying for, you should have résumés that highlight different experiences and skill sets, says Leavy-Detrick. For example, say your dream job is a copywriter, but you’re also applying for admin assistant positions to pay the bills. Highlight your copy writing experiences on one résumé by putting internships and freelance projects front and center. You should have a separate admin assistant résumé that focuses on the office manager job you held or the fact you managed multiple phone lines during an internship. Yes, it’s annoying, but not as annoying as having a generic résumé ignored by dozens of hiring managers.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
If your résumé looks a little bare, or you have a lot of temp or freelance jobs, consider buffering it with a volunteer position, especially if you’ve taken on a leadership role or did major fundraising. Anything that shows you have the skills needed to succeed in a workplace, suggests Leavy-Detrick.

Think in terms of a transferable skill set. Did you manage $50,000 in donations? Coordinate a 150-person event? Successfully solicit donations from 10 businesses, netting $100,000 in goods? These skills are ones that a hiring manager can immediately visualize as beneficial in the office.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
It takes up a line and it’s obvious. Other obvious lines to delete: The fact you’re familiar with Microsoft Word or Excel — newsflash, that’s like saying you know how to use your smartphone. And résumé experts are split about having a line offering hobbies or interests: If you must include (or to fill the line on the LinkedIn profile) make sure you choose something that makes you seem like a great job candidate. For example, marathon training shows dedication. Seeking out the perfect food truck taco? Not so much.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Were you editor-in-chief of your high school paper? Did you play on the varsity basketball team? Graduated with honors? That's nice. But if you're closer to your five-year reunion than your high school graduation day, it's time to remove those accolades from your résumé. Employers aren't interested in what you did with your free time in 12th grade. They want to know what you're doing now.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Your résumé should be all about the numbers, along with concise descriptions of what you do on a daily basis. Don't waste valuable space trying to explain the intricacies of your job, such as your ability to manage a micromanager or how you mentor younger employees. Those skills are better saved for interviews when you can really go into detail.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Don’t worry so much about chronological order, especially if you’ve had a few concurrent freelance or contract roles, suggests Leavy-Detrick. Employers are much more interested in seeing that you have relevant experience in the industry that you’re applying to. If you’ve had to keep yourself afloat with temp work during employment lulls, explain that in the interview, but keep your paper résumé focused on the gigs you’ve had that match the current job description you’re applying for.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
More than two years out? It's time to take off information about what you did in college, unless it was something extraordinary (like founding a business that’s still running). If you had some impressive internships, relegate them to one or two lines, but keep the focus on what you’ve done post-graduation. And on that note, ditch the GPA. You can say you graduated cum laude, but avoid the specific number, which can make you seem young, say experts.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Not getting bites? Consider having a pro read over your résumé. Yes, a session will cost you, but it will be worth it in terms of landing a gig. “Job seekers often miss who their target audience is, or get too muddled in describing their previous gigs,” explains Leavy-Detrick. “A good résumé consultant can help you successfully learn how to market and present yourself on paper.”
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
In a creative field, it helps you stand out. Art director and graphic designer Beth Briggs updated her résumé to an infographic one, and found herself inundated with interviews — and a job offer. “I’d had a dry, corporate résumé that didn’t get nearly the same response rate,” Briggs explains.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
This might seem so obvious, and yet frequently people send out résumés without their full name in the file name. It's not helpful for hiring managers to get a file called "Resume2016" or "BusinessNameResume." How are they supposed to distinguish yours from the dozens of others they've received?

Your best bet is to include your full name with an underscore, plus the word résumé (FirstName_LastName_Resume.pdf), so whoever is looking for the file knows right away just what they're going to get.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Bring paper résumés to interviews. Sounds old school, but interviewers want to see it on paper. Not bringing one makes you seem disorganized. “I’m so surprised by how many people don’t follow this advice,” says manager and creative director Jamie. It’s more work for me to pull up the résumé on my screen, plus it makes you seem like you don’t care. When I have a paper résumé, I also feel like it’s easier to read it in real time. If I don’t see one and write notes on it, I’m probably going to forget about you a second after you leave my office.” Harsh, but definitely good motivation to head over to Kinkos and spring for a few copies!
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
This should go without saying, but your résumé should never be more than a page, especially if you're fresh out of college. But even 10 years (or more) into your career, you should be carefully editing your CV so it still fits on a single sheet of paper. Your current gig should get the most room on the page, and you should provide fewer and fewer details for those first jobs and internships (eventually removing them altogether).

Also, we've said it before, but don't waste valuable space on "skills" everyone should have. Knowing how to use Google is not something to brag about.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Some people swear by objectives — a short paragraph that sums up who you are and what you are looking for — but I think more often than not, they aren't worth the space they take up. If you've had more than three or four jobs, and a fairly extensive work experience, skip this and use the space to offer more information about your past gigs. If you're fresh out of college, objective can be more helpful, especially if you're trying to establish a work identity.

If you do include one, make sure you have someone you trust (a mentor, former boss, etc) vet the objective to make sure the language is clean and tight and to the point. And please, leave off overly personal details or information that has nothing to do with the job you're applying for. You may want to tweak the objective depending on the kind of job you're applying for.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
I've seen people argue against using bullet points on a résumé, but if you eschew them, you run the risk of having a sheet of paper filled with a lot of text that's hard to follow. Hiring managers review a lot of résumés — you want yours to be readable.

Bullet points break up big blocks of information, making it much easier to review. Just remember: Every job doesn't need the same number of bullet points. You'll have a longer entry for your current gig than you will for past jobs. And as you run down the list of jobs, they'll get fewer and fewer, to the point where you offer just brief summaries of responsibilities.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
It should go without saying that you shouldn't lie on your résumé, but just in case: Don't lie on your résumé. Even the smallest fibs can come back to haunt you, and they make you look unreliable and unprofessional.

The point of this piece of paper is to play up your strengths — even if you don't have a ton of experience, focus on the skills you do have and never, ever pretend you're fluent in French when you're not.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
In 2013, Careerbuilder did a survey of hiring managers and asked them to identify which résumé words and phrases are cliche and which ones get their attention. Do you have "go-getter" on there? Time to delete that one! (Also avoid "best in breed" — but that one seems obvious).

Among the top 15 most-liked phrases are action verbs like "create" and "achieve." You want your résumé to have some life and a little bit of pep. While "managed" isn't the most thrilling word in the English language, it does clearly state what you did and is much better than "worked."

If you're looking for a few more words to spice up your resume, check out this list from The Muse. Just make sure you understand what the word means and you're not relying too heavily on a thesaurus. Nothing will turn a hiring manager off quicker than misusing a word.