October 15, 2008

Bored with your resume? Then it's time to change it up! (Part 1 - Content)

Are you bored with your resume?

Do you think it's time for a change?

If you answered "yes" to the above questions, then you are in luck.
In this posting, I'll be talking about how to change the content of your resume to freshen it up.

Every so often, I take a look at my resume and identify what I don't like about the content. By doing this, I can try and figure out if there are any issues in my resume that potential employers might spot.

For example, recently, I noticed in my resume that I repeated "Assisted customers with their selection of fashion choices for teenagers and young adults" under two seperate jobs. With the help of a thesaurus and my trusty list of power words, I was able to rephrase both job duties to make them stand out even more.

So if you find yourself getting bored with your resume, then here are some things to consider:

1) Look at your objective. If you have it as a short phrase, try changing it to a longer phrase or perhaps a sentence. Often times, students will state in their objectives the title of the job they are applying for. Instead of just saying "Part-time sales associate job" start with "To obtain" as it will give you more leeway in terms of the content and structure. But remember to keep it to one short line.

2) If you are using a combination or functional resume, look at your skills section. Consider changing the title from "Skills" to "Highlights" or "Qualifications" or "Personal Attributes". And use different words to highlight your skills - that's right, it's time to crack open a thesaurus, or visit a really good dictionary/thesaurus website like Merriam-Webster. For example, if you talk about meeting sales targets, change the word "targets" to "quotas".

3) Change up the power phrases you are using. There are many ways to say you have excellent communication skills. You could say you have exceptional communication skills or outstanding written and verbal communication skills. Again, for this you'll need to consult a thesarus or my previous posting on power phrases.

4) Make sure all of your job duties start with a power word. All job duties should start with a punchy verb. Don't be afraid to use "fancy" or "big" words, so long as they relate to the job you did - in fact, one of my favourite resume words is "facilitated" and how many 22-year olds do you know who frequently drop that word into a sentence! Check out my previous posting on power words for more information and a list of my favourite words.

5) Change up the order of your job duties. Obviously, don't put the most important job duty you did at the bottom, but change it up. Group similar duties together and move them either up or down on your list. And if you find you are stuck for space on a one-page resume, use a maximum of 3 one-line duties.

6) If you have worked for a range of different companies and all of your experience relates to the job you are applying for, try choosing different work experiences. This can be tricky because you don't want to to replace your longest job with your shortest one. But let's say you have 4 different jobs, each of which lasted 4 months. If they are all in retail and you are applying for a retail job, change it up and list the first two, or the last two.

If you take this route, I recommend changing the heading to "Relevant Experience" and simply using years instead of the more traditional month-year listing. This way, you avoid looking like you have a major work gap.

7) Add an additional category. This is pretty simple, but can only be done if you have the space. Remember to be careful since additional categories can be both a blessing and a curse - keep it short, sweet and professional. For more information, read my previous posting on additional information.

In the end, if you find yourself bored of the content of your resume, don't be afraid to jazz it up. With the help of a thesaurus and various online resume writing tools, you can really "freshen up" your resume.

And if you're really into tweaking your resume, I recommend taking a look at it every few months and seeing if there are improvements you can easily make.

The next posting (part 2)
will be uploaded soon and will deal with how to change the physical look and design of your resume to add some extra oomph.

Stay tuned and good luck!

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