When you want to start applying for new jobs, make sure your resumé is polished with our top tips.

Since submitting your resumé is often the first contact you will make with a potential employer, you need to ensure it is polished and powerful to give you the best chance of moving forward to the interview stage.

There are many ways of giving your resume a boost, with some involving more effort - like learning a new skill - but others just requiring a little attention for a big payoff.

Here’s how we recommend giving your resume a boost to ensure you’re getting the hiring manager to pay attention:

learn a new skill

Skills and experience are what get people the interview: your chance to provide more context and wow the hiring manager. So if you can add a new skill to your resume - particularly one that other applicants might be lacking - you’ll be giving yourself a better chance of getting through to that meeting. It can also demonstrate your commitment to your career.

You don’t even have to spend much on gaining a new skill, with plenty of free courses available online. Major institutions offer free learning materials, including Google and the UK’s Open University. Consider what the most relevant skills for your chosen field are and investigate whether you can acquire them.

add volunteering

If you’ve undertaken voluntary work in the last few years, don’t forget to include it in your resume. This experience can be highly relevant to certain jobs and sectors - particularly non-profit organizations. It shows commitment to charitable causes and can highlight you as someone who would fit into a potential employer’s company culture.

Kara Montermoso, content manager at Idealist.org, says volunteer work “shows an employer that you are willing to try new experiences, be involved in your community and generally demonstrates a willingness to take initiative and make things happen”. Showing this will give you a real advantage over other candidates. However, make sure you’re not overemphasizing this experience at the expense of your paid employment, which could be more relevant to employers.

optimize your resumé

In today’s world, getting noticed is often down to search engine optimization (SEO). This technique can also lend itself well to job applications, since increasing numbers of employers are adopting applicant tracking systems (ATS). These systems scan resumés and put forward the ones they consider most relevant based on established guidelines.

If you can incorporate the right keywords in your resumé, you can give the ATS what it’s looking for. According to Rachel Rowan Stamper, writing for the Muse, “even if your prospective employer isn’t using an ATS, including clear, relevant keywords increases the odds that your skills will jump off the page to someone screening with limited time”. Make sure you’re matching the keywords you use with the ones mentioned in the job description to showcase how your skills are relevant.

link your work

Because resumés are rarely sent through the physical mail today, you’re able to include links to other assets in yours. This could be to portfolios of your work, your online resumé - which could offer more detail than the one you’re submitting - or your social media profiles. If you don’t have any of these, it’s be time to start thinking about setting them up.

Establish what’s most appropriate to the role you’re applying for and connect it to your resumé. Doing so can show your personality and provide a hiring manager with evidence that you can do the job, particularly if you’re looking for a role in the creative industries.

look forward

Forbes contributor Nancy Collamer advises job seekers to think about the future when putting a resumé together, saying “the key is to give heavier emphasis to the credentials, experiences and accomplishments that relate to your objective and less to things that don’t”. She explains that your current goals should determine which aspects of your previous experience are mentioned in your resumé. 

This is why it’s essential to tailor your resumé to the specific position you’re applying for. Muse writer Lily Zhang has noted that no matter how good your resumé might be, “it will always benefit from some personalization”.

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