Planning to explore new opportunities or make a career transition in 2023? The current talent shortage coupled with increased hiring means now is a great time to make a career move. Before you start applying to online job postings and reaching out to hiring managers, you need to ensure your resume is telling your story in a compelling way that makes you stand out to hiring managers. Here are three tips to freshen up your resume in 2023.
Tip #1 to Freshen Up Your Resume: Incorporate Culture Fit
The majority of recruiters say that culture fit is an important factor in their hiring decision. You don’t hear much about culture fit when it comes to resume writing, but your resume is a great place to start setting the stage for a great culture fit.
Research the culture of the organizations that you want to target in your job search. You can speak with current and past employees, connect with people on LinkedIn who work for the company, check out reviews of the company on Glassdoor, and ask around. Find out what beliefs and values drive their organization and if these align with yours.
On your resume speak to the values that resonate with you. If the company is committed to innovation and you’re a curious person, talk about how your curiosity leads to progress, innovation, and results.
Let’s say the company values growth. Share examples of how you’ve grown professionally, show courses you’ve taken, certifications completed, ongoing learning and development opportunities that you’ve capitalized on. Remember to discuss the results of your training. Did the training you received lead to a discovery that cut the company’s costs by 20%? Share that on your resume.
Tip #2 to Freshen Up Your Resume: Remove Useless Words
I can’t overemphasize the importance of word choice in resume writing. Words are how you convey value, communicate your achievements, and give the employer the information they need to make a decision to interview you.
Words like “results,” “success,” “professional,” and “accomplished” sound great, but they don’t communicate anything meaningful. It would be better to share the exact result you achieved or the challenge that led to the success.
Instead of saying you are “results-driven,” describe the results you deliver with metrics, facts, and figures.
Replace the generic term “success” with the actual successes you’ve had using specific examples, keywords, and industry terms.
The word “professional” can be switched with the actual position title that you’re pursuing.
“Accomplished” is an overused phrase that’s hard to quantify. So instead of saying you’re accomplished, share the accomplishments with metrics.
Additionally, replace passive phrases like “responsible for,” “duties included,” “worked with,” and “collaborated on” with action verbs. It’s a minor shift in language but a major change in meaning.
Instead of saying you are responsible for managing the budget, state that you: “Managed a $3M budget.”
Download this list of 178 action verbs and high-impact resume phrases. It will help you make simple switches in language that will get you more attention from employers.
I also recommend avoiding the following phrases:
Demonstrated success in . . .
Proven results . . .
Excellent communication skills
Instead of “demonstrated success in” or “proven results,” show the employer the results using data, numbers, and metrics. You can do this by writing bulleted statements about your accomplishments using the C.A.R. formula.
C.A.R. stands for Challenge, Action, Result.
Share the challenge that you faced, the action you took to address the challenge, and the data/numbers that go with the result. This provides proof to the employer of the value you can add and is much more specific than saying you have proven results.
Replace the phrases “excellent communication skills” and “team player” with examples of how you’ve used your communication skills and how you’ve been a team player. Words that can help you lead into these examples might be “influenced,” “empowered,” “negotiated,” “advocated,” “advised,” or “enabled.” You always want to show—not tell. Paint a picture for the employer of what you’ve achieved in the past by giving them examples just like you would in an interview.
Tip #3 to Freshen Up Your Resume: Modernize Your Resume
If you haven’t updated your resume in the last couple of years, it’s time for an overhaul.
Outdated resume formats and content can cost you opportunities for higher-level roles and increased income. I speak with job seekers every week whose resumes are only generating interviews for lower-level, junior roles or roles the person isn’t targeting at all. This is a surefire indication that the branding and focus of your resume is off.
The first way to modernize your resume is to marry results-rich content with storytelling. Employers want to know what you’ve accomplished and how. Giving them achievements in context (with the story behind the achievement) helps them see exactly the type of value you’re able to offer.
When we work with clients we ask specific questions to draw out each client’s story and achievements and put them into context so that employers immediately see their value. Our interview process uncovers critical information that makes a difference for our clients.
You can do something similar for yourself when writing your resume by asking yourself questions like these:
Which of my accomplishments are most closely aligned with the job I am applying for?
Which three accomplishments am I most proud of overall? Why?
Which accomplishment took the most work to achieve? Why?
Which accomplishment was easiest for me? Why?
Which accomplishment would I have the most fun describing during an interview?
Which accomplishment would be the hardest to explain during an interview?
What accomplishment would my current boss point out?
The answers to the “Which/What” question will help you find the accomplishment and the data to go with it. The “Why” question will help give your accomplishment context. Context is often underrated but more important than most people give it credit for.
It’s great to say you increased sales 10%, but to add that you increased it 10% during the 2020 economic downturn or to compare your 10% increase to simultaneous industry-wide 20% revenue loss gives your achievement more impact.
The second way you can modernize your resume is to update the format and design. Incorporate an on-brand color, and/or use shading, borders, and visuals.
If you’re worried that adding visual elements or white space will make your resume too long, remember that a one-page resume is not required, especially at the professional or executive level. A two-page resume is perfectly fine, and even expected.
In addition to adding visuals, you can also create a resume that is more visually engaging by adjusting its layout. Add a sidebar, change the font, enlarge the header, or put more white space between paragraphs or even between the items on a bulleted list. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a resume that is compelling—you just have to be aware of the modern trends toward visual elements and away from large, dense blocks of text.
You can review 12 examples of modern resume designs on our website samples page here. These will give you inspiration for modern layout and format.
Are you struggling to create an executive resume that will impress employers? Download this FREE executive resume template and receive a series of 10 emails with expert guidance on how to write resume content that resonates with employers so you get more interviews.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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