1. In addition to submitting your resume to a generic email address or online job board, try to also contact the person doing the hiring. Even if you don’t reach the exact right person, you’re more likely to be noticed if someone on the inside forwards it along.
2. Before you submit a resume for any job, identify keywords in the job description, paying special attention to what’s mentioned first and repeated. Then make sure your resume includes 50 percent or more of these keywords. Obviously, this applies to online job search boards, which track keyword usage. But even if your resume is just going to one humble HR person, his or her synapses are more likely to light up when your resume “talks the talk.”
3. Give job keywords a boost by making your resume skimmable. Clearly mark headings by bolding or italicizing the font, leave plenty of white space around them, and stick to three short bullet points per job (if you can swing it).
4. No one needs to know that you spend 85 percent of your day answering email. Instead of everyday duties, use bullet points to share work highlights and accomplishments.
5. Think like a newspaper and put your best, most relevant work experience above the fold.
6. Let the numbers do the talking. Quantify your accomplishments where you can, and make them easy to find by using numerals instead of writing them out as words (12 instead of twelve).
7. If your previous employers aren’t household names, provide a description to make things clear. For example, “Petvettes, A Startup Specializing in Sports Cars for Dogs.”
8. Eliminate widows. No, not the human kind: the publishing kind. These occur when a single word or phrase at the end of a paragraph ends up on its own line, taking up valuable space.
9. Ditch Times New Roman for a thin, simple font with consistent spacing. Georgia, Book Antiqua, and Tahoma are all great options.
10. Make it easy for interested hiring managers to see more of your work. Include relevant URLs to your portfolio, clips, and social media accounts (ones you’ve kept clean and work-appropriate, of course!).
11. Include your activities and interests—your interviewer wants to get to know you and gauge whether you’d fit in well with the team, so listing your volunteer experience or love of cooking can help showcase your personality.
12. Remove your current address. Recruiters have admitted to eliminating candidates based solely on their hypothetical commute time. If you’re looking for a job in a new city, a long-distance address poses just another hurdle in the job search.
13. While you’re at it, remove any other resume padding you’ve used to make your work history look more impressive. Delete irrelevant work experience, any mention of references, and college activities from more than five years ago. P.S. It’s 2016: No one should still list Microsoft Word as a computer skill.
14. You’ve heard that you should dress for the job you want; this holds true for your resume, too. If you’re in a creative industry, your resume can be more creative. If you’re a professional writer, those bullet points had better sing.
15. Want to turn a good resume into a great impression? Include an equally good cover letter.