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4 Tips To Spring Clean Your Resume

Apr 22, 2021 Posted by Rob Leteste

As our economy moves closer to being fully reopened, employers are ramping up hiring, and opportunities to get your resume in front of hiring managers are popping up everywhere (such as our upcoming career fair). Along with sourdough and banana bread baking, you probably have a lot of new skills to add to your 2021 resume. Grab that bulk-sized cleaning wipes can and let’s get to spring cleaning for your job search with these resume tips.

  • Know Your Audience
    • Spend plenty of time reviewing the organization’s about us section, their recent social media posts, and the types of products/services they sell. Jot down plenty of notes during your research, and circle aspects of the company which connect to your experience and passions.
    • Avoid industry jargon as much as possible. If you must use acronyms to save space, be sure to fully spell it out the first time it is used, and then put the acronym in parentheses afterwards.
    • Connect the dots on transferrable skills, even if part of your work history seems completely different from what you are applying to. A good example of this is Salesforce, a cloud database used by non-profits, tech companies, and many industries in between. A great guide to finding these transferrable skills is EMSI, which provides a free skill identifier utilizing job titles and education. You are your own rosetta stone when it comes to translating your past experience to the skills a new job desires.
  • The Two Highlighter approach
    • Start with a sketch of the most important skills mentioned in the job description, use one color to highlight the skills that are strengths, and another color for skills you need more work on
    • For the skills your highlighted as strengths, every bullet point under your work/volunteer/school history should connect to one of these skills.
    • For the skills you highlighted as weaknesses, consider two approaches:
      • Did you develop a similar skill in the same topic area? For example, are you light on python experience but have done plenty of HTML work? Add some information about how you learned HTML, and how you continue to keep that skill fresh – allow the employer to view this as a template for how you might learn that related skill!
      • Understand the pathway you might take to learn that skill. While it won’t go on the resume, being able to answer the question about a skill gap with a “where/how long/how much” response can show you are open to a professional development plan. No person will work their entire career without continuous upskilling and being able to develop a learning plan is a highly valuable skill itself.
  • Action Verbs
    • Don’t start examples with “I did this”, but instead lead with action verbs which can often times do double work for conveying your soft skills. Avoid duplicating the same verb throughout your examples. One common resume suggestion is to include quantifiable numbers on outcomes. While saying you managed a $5M procurement budget is a nice barometer, use these action verbs to describe how you accomplished the work: (ex. Enhanced company’s database to generate automated alerts for future supply shortages to better manage a $5M procurement budget).
  • Explain what your degree means
    • Take it from an Economics grad, if you do not provide details on what you learned you run the risk of having your education stereotyped. “Economics? I hated that class.”
    • Include pertinent classes or topics to the job/industry you are applying to.
    • If you are having a hard time thinking back to find those related topics, include a couple bullet points discussing how you learned. Include examples of group work to show your teamwork skills, or the methods you used to find trustworthy articles and data for a research paper to provide insight into how you can distill large amounts of information into an actionable report.

A final suggestion goes beyond your resume. Seek out and include others in your network to support you in your job search. Those who are part of your life want to see you land the perfect job as much, if not more, as you do. Your perfect proofreader probably only charges you for a walk around the block.

About the Author - Rob Leteste is an Economic Development Analyst with Invest Buffalo Niagara.