Resume Reboot: How to Take Your CV From Decent to Dynamite

Resume written on old typewriter
Love or loathe them, a resume starts the process of getting that job you want. It's the first impression a recruiter, HR executive, or other hiring professional has of you, so it should be a document that tells your professional story in an engaging way that -- hopefully -- prompts the reader to take action by helping you get your foot in the door.

But first, let's take a step back and understand that your resume acts like a gateway. It's just one part of a whole that is made up of your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and any other digital footprint you have out there. As they are all extensions of you, it's important to have them reflect back an accurate version of who you are and what your story's all about. Think about strong brands and how consistent they are. This also applies to you and your personal brand.Now comes the "how" of getting noticed. Let's simplify and think of a resume in terms of structure and content. There are those of us who work with the standard format and others like the applicant at Airbnb who took her resume to a whole different galaxy. Not to worry, you don't have to go there. (Though kudos to her for her hard work and determination.) However, you do want to get noticed, and here are some key strategies to make that happen.

"Don't sell yourself short," says Heidi Duss, Founder of Prepster, a company dedicated to helping individuals make the best first impression. "A resume ... helps a potential employer understand your achievements and successes throughout your career." And on the subject of success, Duss emphasizes putting modesty on the back shelf and, instead, owning it. It's the fruit of all your hard work, right?

"Think back to the achievements that made you an asset to your previous employers," says Duss. "Consider not only what you did but also how it was achieved." Remember to use the power of "X" by "Y," when describing your accomplishments, as in, "I increased our bottom line by 40% ("X") by fine-tuning our SEO strategy ("Y")," instead of just "I increased our bottom line by 40%."

Show numbers as much as is appropriate. People like numbers because they help set up a context for what you are describing. As an example, if you did a special internship or got into a competitive program, don't forget to describe that you were selected out of "X" amount of other candidates. This helps to give a sense of the kind of selectivity you were up against.

Also remember the power of using keywords associated with the job description in your resume. Think of how you scan articles when you're looking for a particular subject matter. The same goes with recruitment. Use your words strategically.

And lastly, remember the little things. "Never underestimate the power of spell check! Have a mentor or friend review your resume for grammatical errors and ensure that the layout is visually appealing," says Duss. It's hard to imagine that after putting your heart and soul into your resume that it will be looked over in under one minute, but that is the reality. However, if you make that minute count for the reader, your voicemail and email inbox might start getting very busy, very soon.
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