— August 31, 2018
Your résumé is your pitch to a new employer. Your résumé has to tell your story in the most compelling and efficient way possible. The average résumé has just 6.25 seconds of review in the application process. Therefore, each word and whitespace must be chosen thoughtfully to make your résumé stand out.
Refining your résumé can be an overwhelming task. However, it can be easily improved by applying the best practices of business writing. We’ve compiled the top 5 ways to improve your résumé that will impress your soon-to-be boss.
1. Know Your Audience
It is crucial to write for your audience. If the hiring is being done by the department executive or the technical lead, you need to write for that person. Each audience requires a slightly different approach. Yes, the core content can stay the same, but the word choice, the technical level, and the way you sell your experience must be targeted.
Your audience also changes based on the company and the job posting. There are certain keywords that companies (or their HR algorithms!) love to see. Identify key phrases to the role vying for and incorporate them into your résumé text.
2. BLOT It: Bottom Line On Top
Where will your future boss look first on your résumé? On top. Therefore, the classic business writing tactic BLOT: Bottom Line on Top applies to your résumé as well.
Considering your audience, what information is the top priority? Is it your experience or education? Which aspect of your most recent job is most important? Organize your résumé to highlight the most important elements at the beginning.
3. Build Your Skills
Do you have all the skills listed in the posting? If not, you can add or renew key skills that will better align your experience with the role.
Today, you can take courses on almost any subject from the comfort of your home. Not great with pivot tables? Take an Excel course. Need to work on your business writing? My company, Instructional Solutions, recommends completing a business writing course. Uncomfortable with project budgets? Try a project management course. Invest in yourself to give your résumé an authentic boost.
4. Be Specific
A common mistake in résumé writing is to write too generally. Never make your would-be boss guess what you really did in your last job. ‘Managed a major project’ is unclear and uninteresting. ‘Managed a 6-month go-to-market product launch which exceeded quarterly sales targets by 18%’ is much more specific and valuable to the hiring team.
5. Design for online and offline
Your résumé has to look amazing on-screen and in print. While your résumé will most likely be submitted online, each hiring committee member has their own reading preferences. Some prefer the email attachment scan; others prefer a print-out review. To check that your résumé looks appealing and maintains its formatting, preview it both ways. Open your résumé in a document viewer (or two!) and print it out before submitting it.
Implement these five tactics and your résumé will make a great first impression. That first impression is critical to ensure your résumé is set apart and placed in the desired ‘To Interview’ pile.