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How to improve your resume in less than an hour

Young woman in tech job interview

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Your resume is the first impression that a recruiter or scanning software has of you. To make it stand out, you need to demonstrate why you would be a good candidate as quickly as possible. Here are some tips on how to improve your resume in less than an hour.

IMPACT WORDS 

A resume is essentially a sales pitch for yourself and your skills. Using strong, descriptive words to describe your competencies is a quick way to elevate your resume with little effort.  

A competency is a specific skill or behavior that is necessary for success at a company. Some common examples are customer focus, adaptability, and problem solving. 

You can find the competencies that a company is seeking on their website or on websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, or GeeksForGeeks.  

Some online tools, like Rezi, will scan your resume and the job description to tell you how much your resume fulfils the job description. You can use this information to choose impact words that highlight the competencies that the company is seeking. 

Let’s look at a use case – to demonstrate critical thinking and engineering skills, try using words like engineered, investigated, analysed, pioneered, crafted, and innovated. In practice, instead of saying that you “Fixed bugs”, you can say that you “Investigated logging data and engineered a solution to fix app errors, reducing product crashes by X percentage”. 

Woman writing notes in her workbook

XYZ METHOD 

The XYZ method is a format recommended by Google recruiters to help you share your experience in the most effective and efficient way by focusing on the, ideally quantitative, results and impact. It is described as “Accomplished X as measured by Y, by doing Z” or otherwise known as XYZ.  

Instead of saying that you “Helped run events for the computer science university club”, you can say that you “Enhanced leadership and teamwork skills through creating successful events, such as career lectures, hackathons, and social gatherings, and driving toward short and long-term visions in the computer science club, receiving recognition by club members and advisors.” 

Or, instead of saying that you “won 2nd place in a hackathon”, you can say that you “won the 2nd place out of 100 teams by ideating and collaborating on a project to use data to track ocean plastics for removal”. 

Woman sitting on the floor with laptop working on CV

REMOVE UNNECESSARY INFORMATION 

After polishing up the good bits of your resume, you should remove the less impactful information and trim your resume down to no more than 2 pages (UK) or 1 page (USA). Simple things like your phone number are rarely needed in your resume as you will submit them elsewhere. Other things to consider excluding are things that happened 5-10+ years ago or work experience in different industries if you do have more relevant job experience. 

The second part of this stage is being mindful of what information could actually hinder you. An unfortunate part of life is that people have biases, and so do the algorithms trained on biased data which reflect those biases back on us.  

Take a pass over your resume to remove information that could prevent you from getting to the next stage – e.g. age related information (graduation dates, if not still in university), home address, or an unprofessional email address. 

Woman's hand writing updates to her resume

POLISH 

Your resume is the only thing recruiters have to base a decision on. Little things can make a difference, especially if you are early in your career and have fewer experiences to distinguish yourself with. A clean, well-organized, and consistent resume will give you a much stronger first impression. 

Make sure your resume is visually appealing and easy to read. Avoid spelling and formatting errors. Have others look at your resume to help spot issues that your eyes may be glancing over. Even printing it out can help bring fresh eyes to review the document. 

THAT’S IT! 

Crafting a compelling resume is crucial as it is often the first impression you make on a potential employer.  

To stand out from the crowd, it is important to highlight your strengths and emphasize how you can add value to the company. This can be achieved through careful formatting, the use of impactful language to describe your achievements, and the removal of any unnecessary information that may be hindering your chances.  

By putting in the time and effort to polish your resume, you increase your chances of being invited to that all-important first interview and ultimately landing your dream job. 

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