Meg Applegate
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I connect women to career advancement

Your massive to-do list can feel like the elephant in the room. Weighty, immovable, and, well, large. 

The pure rush (and relief) of crossing off a task on your list is palpable, but what about those items that keep getting pushed further and further down the list? 

Is your resume one of them? You know it needs a refresh, but the brainpower isn’t there at the end of the day or you may feel allergic to the task. Either way, the daunting chore becomes an obstacle to your career growth.

When the overwhelm is real, take one bite at a time. It’s not as big of an elephant as you might think. It takes only eight bite-sized tasks to transform your resume from boring to brilliant. 

1. Add a headline.

This is the flashing preview of the work you do on your resume. Name the job title you are applying to as the first thing in your document (after your name and contact info, of course). 

The headline tells the reader what you do (or want to do) The rest of your resume builds your case about how you

uniquely do it.

2. Customize your LinkedIn URL.

Job applicants who listed their LinkedIn profile URL (that led to a robust profile) on their resume were 71% more likely to land an interview than those that didn’t, according to a 2019 study by ResumeGo

Ditch your default gobbly-gook of a link and create your custom URL for a sharp look on your resume and online branding real estate. You can follow the how-to here

3. Distill your brand.

Your resume is a marketing document and it’s selling you.

Just like your favorite product labels, you have unique features and qualities that specifically qualify you to do work that you love. It’s time to trade your lifeless work summary for your unique value promise. Consider what makes you distinct by asking yourself: 

  • What strengths do others acknowledge in me?
  • What feels like fun to me, but seems like work to others?
  • What am I known for? 
  • What do I have that peers in a similar role or applicants competing for the same job lack? 

4. Ditch the Times New Roman font.

Separate yourself from a typeface that is old school and outdated. Go modern with universal fonts like Calibri, Arial, Lucida Sans or Tahoma. It’s as easy as “select all text” and choosing your new font. Feel free to use a different sans serif font for your headings, too.

5. Swap out your “Responsible for’s.”

If you are bored reading your resume, others are too. Use sharp and unique action verbs to describe your achievements. Go specific rather than generic. Exchange your “responsible for” for words like champion, mobilize, leverage or influence.

6. Add color.

Today, hiring managers read career documents on digital devices rather than heavy-weight paper. So, it’s important to not only nail your content but the viewer experience as well. 

Color should enhance your candidacy, not detract from it. Your choice of format and color is the visual positioning of your experience that differentiates you from the competition and sells your brand. 

Use color in Microsoft Word functions like shading, borders and even headings and subheadings as appropriate. When in doubt, keep it simple. Less is more.

7. Address a company pain point.

Use the job advertisement to your advantage. Pose a qualification from the required skills list as a question. Then, use your answer on how you’ve done it in your resume. For example:

Job Requirement: Establish and implement a best-in-class sales operating system with key metrics to drive accountability.

Question: How have you established and/or implemented a best-in-class sales operating system with key metrics to drive accountability?

Resume Bullet Point: Slashed product schedule changes by 70% in 2019 through the formulation of and tracking within the Customer Scorecard.

8. Uncover your wins.

Don’t let your unique contributions drown in generic job duties. While sharing the scope and context of your role is important, your bullet points should be devoted to your unique contributions.

Replace dense paragraphs with bulleted, lean, achievement-driven statements. Get from paragraph to bullet point by asking yourself one simple question: "So what?" 

For example, you might say:

I help customers on the phone and increase customer satisfaction.

So what?

I created a procedure for call handling to ensure calls aren't missed.

So what?

I did this so well I was asked to create the customer satisfaction function of our company improving missed customer calls.

And so on. Boil it down to quantifiable, impactful bullet points. 

❌ Assisted customers on the phone and increased customer satisfaction. 

✅ Decreased missed inbound calls by 30% in six weeks by developing a new call handling standard operating procedure (SOP).

Remember bite-size actions take the weight out of updating your resume and propel your career advancement (and growth). Now, cross that off your to-do list.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for making a resume look better? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

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This article was written by a Fairygodboss contributor.

Meg Applegate is an award-winning resume writer who connects high-achieving women to career advancement under her boutique resume writing and coaching firm, Hinge Resume Collaborative

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