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5 Ways to improve your resume

Sending out resumes and not getting any job offers? Maybe it’s not you — it could be your resume that’s stopping employers from calling you. Turn your resume from “meh” to marvelous in five easy steps.

Woman on interview

1Forget paper

In this competitive job market, you’ve got to make your resume stand out in the crowd. Increasingly, job applicants who want to rise above the rest are creating resumes that leave the paper format behind. A video resume shows potential employers exactly who you are, it grabs their attention, it shows you’re a whiz when it comes to multimedia, and you have a captive audience. (Check out Mashable’s Top 5 Tips for Creating Impressive Video Resumes.) Of course, video resumes aren’t for everybody or every position. If you’re applying for a job at a company that reminds you of Dunder Mifflin, you may want to stick with a more traditional format. On the other hand, if you’re looking to become a videographer, what better way to show off your video-making chops?

2Showcase your successes

Make sure you don’t fall into the resume trap of listing all the things you’ve done in your previous positions, but not framing them as quantifiable achievements. For example, if you say you managed a team of six, well, that’s good, but it’s not great. (And today, you’ve got to be great to get an interview.) Focus on what you actually accomplished with each skill you mention. For example, you managed a team of six that increased company revenue by 57 percent. Now we’re talking.

3Polish it to perfection

Ask HR managers what one of their biggest pet peeves is when it comes to screening resumes, and many will say it’s the little things. Title your resume “Resume”? They can’t find it again on their computer. (Try FirstnameLastnameResume.) Spell check your resume repeatedly, especially if you’re regularly updating it (as you should); a perfect resume makes you look like a stickler for detail. Make sure the formatting is consistent throughout. Use dynamic verbs and adjectives that show you have a passion for this type of work. Whether to include an objective statement at the top is up for debate these days, but it won’t hurt to remind the person who’s reading it exactly what position you’re applying for and why you deserve it.

4Keep in short and sweet

Resumes that run more than a single page — with very few exceptions — are just too long. Know how long the average recruiter spends looking at your resume? In all likelihood, no longer than 20 to 30 seconds at the most — and probably less. That’s not a lot of time. This means you need a resume that’s easy to scan quickly (not just easy to read slowly), that’s consistent in format, that features simple statements focusing on your successes, and that shows you can leave out what’s not important. Your resume is you. It should come across as focused, neat and straightforward.

5Get in the right hands

Now that your resume is totally solid, it’s up to you to make sure it finds its way to the person who can help get you hired. If you’re not having any luck submitting your resume through websites or uploading it to job-seeker sites, use LinkedIn, your personal connections and some Internet sleuthing to see if you can form a one-on-one relationship with the hirer. People like to hire people they know. Make that person you.

More career tips for women

Superpower your online profile
Put some creativity into your business card
How personality shapes a career

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