Looking for ways to improve your resume? Even highly qualified job applicants should take a hard look at the way they present themselves on paper to prospective employers. And, to be more attractive to the hiring team at your dream job, you may need to beef up your demonstrable skills and abilities. Read on for ideas to round out your resume that will make you a better candidate for open positions.
Become a Specialist
Give yourself an edge by specializing in an aspect of your field. This is one of the best ways to get your resume to stand out, but it’s also one of the most time-consuming ways. This won’t happen overnight, so start planning now for your next career transition. If you choose to specialize, think about the different skill areas you have that you can fine-tune. For some, this could be doing additional training, like earning a cyber forensics investigation and administration degree online. For others, it might simply be going to your boss and requesting to focus on a specific area of your current position. Whatever you choose, you should have a plan for how it will help your future career path. Hiring teams like to see visible progress toward a career goal.
Another place that resumes often look weak, experts say, is extracurricular activities. If your resume only lists your workplace accomplishments, you’ll want to look for volunteer opportunities that highlight targeted skill areas while simultaneously showing you are a person, not just a position. For example, listing your work with a local community theater group emphasizes your creativity and ability to work with a team. If you would like to start volunteering and aren’t sure where to begin, contact your human resources department to see if your company has any local partnerships with nonprofit groups or other community organizations that seek volunteers.
Attend More Conferences or Trade Shows
Not only will attending conferences, workshops, trade shows and other events relevant to your industry help you network and find leads on new jobs, they look good on your resume too. Going to these events provides evidence of ongoing interest in your field and a willingness to improve yourself. And, if you’ve been asked to take part in a panel discussion or participate in another public way in these events, don’t be shy about putting that experience on your resume. Any leadership role you have been invited to take reflects well on you.
Expand on Your Existing Accomplishments
If you’ve already got volunteer experience and trade shows listed on your resume but still feel that it’s not adequately representing all you can offer an employer, look through the accomplishments you’ve already listed and think about ways you can elaborate on them. A word of caution: Resumes should convey a lot of information as concisely as possible, with lots of white space around the text. If you tend to pack in paragraphs of densely worded explanations into your resume, you risk making the information in it too hard to absorb. It’s still the rule that employers give only 30 seconds — or less — to evaluate your resume.
Curate Your Web Presence
If you have a lot of additional information about your previous jobs and the skills you’ve gleaned while working at them, but can’t cram everything on to your resume, you can consider adding links on your resume to your social media profiles. Then, on your LinkedIn page for example, you can go into further detail about previous projects you’ve spearheaded, internships or anything else you think will represent you in the best light. If you have a personal website or blog, it’s appropriate to include that link as well. A caveat would be that common sense should dictate only including social media links you use for professional purposes. And, don’t forget to ramp up the privacy settings on all your other social media presences before beginning your job search. Draw clear lines between your professional and personal life, online as well as in person.
About the Author: Sarah MacDougal is a retired HR specialist with 25 years of experience evaluating resumes. She routinely blogs on smart hiring practices.