30-Minute Makeover: 7 Steps to Make Your Resume Sparkle

You’ve applied for dozens of jobs or internships… and have been invited to zero interviews. The problem is your resume.

Pure and simple: no matter how good you think your resume is, you’re wrong.

Here, in just 30 minutes, are steps you can take to dramatically improve your resume – and get the interview…

Put Your Name in Lights

Hiding your name on a resume by using a small, black font shows a distinct lack of confidence – and recruiters notice. Instead, put your name in a much larger font (perhaps size 16) than the body text. And, make sure your name is surrounded by white space… don’t crowd it with other text, graphic elements or lines that separate the sections of your resume.

Remove Those Silly Lines

Those lines, the ones every other resume “expert” suggests you put under your header and between every major section on the page? Lose them. All of them. Why? Because the recruiter doesn’t read your resume… they spend 6 to 7 seconds scanning your resume. Your job is to make your resume scan-able… and those silly lines serve as a mental stop point that takes up valuable brain time. In contrast, the generous white space between sections calmly says “keep reading, please”.

Choose an Easy-to-Read Font

Seeking a job in an old-school career such as engineering, legal or medical? Times Roman 11 is probably best… because that’s what old-school recruiters expect. Working in a more contemporary field like social media, design or public relations? An 11-point Calibri or Verdana is a solid choice. The real key: keep your audience in mind by choosing fonts that won’t make recruiters reach for their reading glasses.

Create a “Summary of Skills”

Your Summary of Skills is five to eight bullet points that enable you to sell… you. List your marketable soft skills, display relevant achievements and include keywords unique to each job description you apply to. The Summary of Skills says to the recruiter: “I’m good, I’m qualified and I’m confident.”

Not sure where to put the Summary of Skills? You know the space just under your header (that now contains your big, bold name; email address; phone number and social media links), where that “Objective Statement” used to be? Right there.

Remove Passive Words

Your resume is a marketing document, not an obituary… this is no time to be bashful or reflective! Review  the resume and remove the “7 Words I Never Want to See on Your Resume” – then replace them with adjectives (“excellent”), adverbs (“skillfully”) and action verbs (“perform”) that infer achievement and potential – and sell you.

Quantify, Quantify, Quantify

Recruiters love numbers, the percent sign and dollar signs! Wherever possible, rather than just say you’re an “amazing leader and mentor” – back it up with quantified statements such as “Achieved 132% of team goals; 7 of 12 team members received promotions.” These clear, concise statements demonstrate impact and give the recruiter that “ah-ha” moment that get you noticed.

Minimize Academics

This advice kills career centers and traditionalists – and it just may be the one piece of your resume that gets you the interview…

The fact is that “relevant coursework”, “applicable class assignments” and even your GPA makes you sound (and perhaps act) like a student. And no one hires a student. They hire young careerists ready to go to work, and contribute, right now. Move your academic history and achievements to the bottom of your resume. If you’ve done everything else right during the makeover, the recruiter will now be more than ready to review your educational background.

Follow these seven steps, and in about 30 minutes your resume will be greatly improved… and maybe even sparkle (or at least put a sparkle in the recruiter’s eyes).

Still not sure how to get your resume to the next level? YouTern has a terrific resume template that incorporates this advice, and has proven highly effective for most professional career paths. We’re happy to share the template with you. In the comments below, via Twitter or on our Facebook page, let us know how best to deliver the template… and let’s help you get that interview!


About the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, 12Most.com, The Daily Muse, Alltop, PRDaily, StudentBranding.com and Intern Advocate.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” and was recently featured on HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and several top blogger lists, including JobMob’s “Top Career Bloggers of 2011”. Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!


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