5 Tips to Improve Your Resume

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A good resume can get your foot in the door, but a well-written one can put you on the top of the consideration list. Here are a couple of tips from two experienced recruiters to help you construct a resume that could give you an edge, Andro Kahn, Global Recruitment Manager, and Monique van Der Zanden, Graduate Recruiter, who offers a few tips worth taking note of.

1. Provide concrete evidence of your qualifications

“Most recruiters spend about 7 minutes scanning through profiles.” says Andro Kahn. In that time, an applicant’s resume should ideally communicate key competencies and achievements in a clear and concise manner.

For students and graduates without professional experience, this means providing evidence of your qualifications in detail. Monique explains:

“They should have a think about all the activities that they have been involved in that helped them develop as a person. This could be work experience, but it could also be voluntary activities.”

2. Quantify your contributions

Sometimes the difference between a good resume and a great one lies in the details. Monique says:

“If you have written on your resume that you were active in a study or a student’s association, on a great resume, you would also quantify your involvement. For example, whether you had any budget responsibilities, how big the association was etc. Quantifying the experience is important.”

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When it comes to resumes, numbers speak louder than words.

When sharing your professional experiences, sharing details such as how many people were in your team, the size of your project, and the number of customers you dealt with are critical. When it comes to resumes, numbers speak louder than words. Where you are not permitted to share the exact details of delivery such as profit or technical information that is sensitive or confidential for your previous employer find creative ways to establish the quantifiable delivery. 

For example:

  • “Increased sales volumes by 10% above industry average” is more powerful than simply saying that you met your sales targets.
  • “Delivered a new software product that was purchased by 5,000 new customers” can be more revealing than saying that you “worked on new software that had a successful sales result”.
  • Saying that you were “responsible for changing an engineering process that reduced delivery time by 40%” helps to demonstrate the impact your activity had.

3. Be concise

“The resume should be written in a manner that’s clear and concise. I recommend adding a statement at the top stating your career objective and why you’re qualified for the particular position you’re applying for.” – Recruitment Manager, Andro Kahn

The best resumes are the ones that can communicate a candidate’s roles, achievements, and strengths from a quick glance.

Streamlining your resume in a way that highlights your competencies clearly is key. Only include details that will lend insights into your achievements. Avoid vague and generic statements, and most importantly, choose function over form. Andro recalls a recent resume that stood out to him:

“In one glance, I was able to understand what the person did, what their strengths were, what they were able to achieve, and the relationships they built.”

4. Use keywords and action verbs

The Cikal ethanol, #501, a ethanol UrbanConcept vehicle from team Cikal ethanol at the Institut Teknologi Bandung in Bandung, Indonesia, on the track during day three of the Shell Eco-marathon Asia, in Manila, Philippines, Saturday, March 5, 2016

Try identifying the unique set of keywords associated with your role.

Every recruiter has a checklist of skills required for a role. Knowing what skills to list on your resume can give you an edge, as Andro explains:

“Normally we have keywords per function or role – so I try to see if there’s a fit. If I’m looking for an Analytics person for example, I tend to look at the skills relating to the analytics projects that they did. Describe what you did, what was accomplished and what competencies you used for each experience.”

To stand out from other applicants, try identifying the unique set of keywords associated with your target role, often found in the job description, then tailor your resume to accommodate those words.

After adding your keywords, scan your current resume and identify words and phrases that can be substituted. As Andro puts it, “Use powerful words in terms of describing what you did. We’d like you to use action verbs, or task-based words.”

5. Ask a friend to review the resume for errors and clarity

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Get a fresh perspective from a friend.

Sometimes a good way to gauge how easy it is to understand your resume and your qualifications is to get a fresh perspective from someone you know. Along with possible minor typos and grammar errors, there may be terms in there that a recruiter or hiring manager may not be familiar with or may not understand. For students and graduates, it is helpful to provide context where something is specific to your school or university. Monique explains:

“Bear in mind that the person or the recruiter reading the resume might not be knowledgeable for instance of a student association that you’ve been a part of so it’s important to provide some explanation.”

Contributed by Shell Recruiters, Andro Kahn, Global Recruitment Manager, and Monique van Der Zanden, Graduate Recruiter

Agolo Uzorka
the authorAgolo Uzorka