As summer approaches, more students will be looking to trade in their graduation cap for exciting new opportunities in the workforce. Finding a job that you’re passionate about requires you to stand out from the crowd and showcase your unique skill set! Your resume should highlight your personality and work ethic so that employers can see just how talented you are. With that in mind, here are 10 proven ways to improve your resume.
Improving your resume
1. Review example resumes from your industry
Depending on what industry you want to enter, your resume’s appearance will need to adapt in order to fit the job description. Seeing a sample template will give you an idea of what skills to include or omit, and will help make your resume more in line with what employers are looking for. For tradespeople, this typically means a rather straightforward layout that documents your abilities and education clearly. That being said, referencing a skilled trades resume sample that is suitable for your background and the job you want will give you a great template to put you ahead of your competition.
2. Include information that you would consider relevant and important for the job
Depending on the size of the company, employers may have to look through hundreds of resumes each day to find a suitable applicant. If the entire first half of your resume only speaks to your interests and your hobbies, but fails to talk about important aspects that qualify you for the job, you likely won’t hear back after applying. Take time to put yourself in your employer’s shoes, and figure out what facts you’d want to know immediately that make you a good hire for the job. Whether you were a top trade school student, or you’ve been working in the field for the past 10 years, highlight the “jaw dropping” information about yourself first that will get employers excited to read the rest of your resume.
3. Use numbers to elevate your experiences
One of the hardest parts of writing an effective resume is figuring out how to tell your story in a small amount of space. It's difficult to translate all of your personal experience into a brief summary, so save your qualitative facts about yourself for when you land your first interview. Quantitative facts can help bridge the gap between you and your employer, by providing scope to your resume stories. Find ways to incorporate numbers that elevate your previous work experience, so that whoever reads your resume can understand just how important your role really was. For example, if you coordinated an event in the past, speak to the number of attendees who came. If you have cold call experience, how many calls did you make while working? If you were a technician, how many jobs did you complete? Including facts and figures like this in your resume will help set you apart from other candidates who are more broad in their work history, and let employers know that much more about your experience.
4. Write in the active tense
Remember, employers want to know your experience quickly and concisely. Instead of fluffing up your resume with fancy language, speak directly about your skills and accomplishments. Start your descriptions off with active words (eg. Achieved, Produced, Acquired, Designed, etc.) For example, instead of writing an education description as:
“During my time at Trade Academy, I spent 3 years educating myself on the HVAC industry and improving my technical skills in the field.”
Take your resume to the next level by condensing this information into:
“Graduated from Trade Academy after 3 years with a strong understanding of HVAC system design”.
The bottom line - The more time you spend highlighting your experience, the better.
5. Only include the sections that you really need
While you should find a resume template that fits your industry, don’t feel like you need to copy every section. If you’re just graduating high school, don’t leave an empty work history section. Instead, incorporate sections that fit your experience level. Headings like “Volunteer” or “Academic” experience will help you substitute sections that normally would be filled. It's important to emphasize that a resume should highlight your personal experiences, so don’t feel pressured to include sections that don’t fit your background. Instead, adjust your resume so that you feel as confident as can be about the material listed.
6. Skip generic descriptions
With employers receiving hundreds of resumes each day, you need to find language that sets you apart from the rest of the herd. Almost every application will contain a section that explains how “hardworking, qualified, dedicated, determined, etc.” the candidate is, but a great resume will explain why all of those qualifiers are true. Instead of relying on these key words to land your job, let the experience speak for itself. Focus on concrete examples of your talent and truly elaborate on why these moments set you apart from the competition. That way, employers will know why you’re the most dedicated, hardworking, and qualified candidate.
7. Search diligently for errors
It should go without saying that checking your resume for errors is incredibly important when applying for a job. Employers want to see that you have responsibility and pride in your work, and the last impression you want to leave them with is that you couldn’t even take the time to proofread your own application. Check your resume frequently after committing to changes, and have friends or family read through it just in case your eyes missed something. You’ll thank yourself for the extra due diligence later.
Building a resume shouldn’t be hard, but writing one that truly details out how talented you are takes finesse. Take time to think about your qualifications and remember to be proud of yourself, no matter where you are in your job search. There are always experiences that you can speak to that will highlight your qualities for employers.