Refresh Your Résumé in 30 Minutes

You get a call out of the blue: A recruiter saw your digital portfolio on Behance or read your profile on LinkedIn and now wants a current résumé, stat! Problem is, it’s outdated. In fact, the last time you looked at your résumé was when you landed your present job.

Yes, you should have been keeping it up to date. But don’t worry: 30 minutes is all it takes to implement these easy but sure-to-impress resume tips:

  1. Go big and bold. Your name is your calling card. Make sure it pops with a font that’s heavier and several sizes larger than the main text. Try stacking your first name on top of your last name, using all caps or making one name bolder and/or a different color than the other. Keep the font for your contact information within the same family, but make it smaller and lighter. Centering this section can come across as a bit too conservative, so try aligning left or right, or using a column format.
  2. Do the shuffle. Rearrange your résumé so your job history is in reverse chronological order, beginning with your present position. Your education comes next, and then a list of technical and soft skills. Finish strong with a section on industry honors and accolades.
  3. Let it breathe. Your résumé should be inviting and easy to scan. Add white space to create focus, improve readability and avoid overwhelming the reader. The standard outside margin is one inch on all sides, but feel free to experiment with a smaller one, especially if there is sufficient white space within the document. Opting for a narrower typeface can further free up real estate. You’re in the creative industry, so play around with your résumé’s font.
  4. Get to the point. Hiring managers are busy and receive 23 résumés, on average for every open creative position. Don’t make them spend extra time picking out what you’ve done and where you’ve been. Make it easy for them to scan your work history by highlighting section headers and bolding job titles. The judicious use of hairline rules, colors and bullets can help direct the eye. If your job descriptions are too long, say, more than four or five lines for each position, be ruthless in pruning them back.
  5. Erase the extras. Résumés, like anything else, follow trends, and the latest is to nix the objective, hobbies, irrelevant skills and the gratuitous “References available upon request” line. This will net you more white space and keep your resume concise. The time and place to showcase your personality is the in-person interview; serious contenders will be asked to submit references later in the hiring process. So, what’s in? A catchy summary tailored to the job you’re applying for to replace the traditional objective.
  6. Don’t be a cliché. If you don’t want to bore the prospective employer, skip resume buzzwords like “qualified,” “experienced with” and anything involving “synergy” and “outside the box.” To really stand out, find fresher words to describe your expertise. The star of the winning resume is not the catch phrase, noun or adjective, but the action verb. Prospective employers want to know what you’ve done, so begin sentences and phrases with dynamic terms such as “created,” “pioneered,” “orchestrated” and “supervised.”
  7. Get it right. Nothing ruins a good first impression like typos and misspellings. Even though you’re applying for a job in design, where images and artistry reign supreme, employers still want to hire staff who know their “its” from their “it’s.” So proofread your resume through several times before saving, creating a PDF and sending it off.

That should do it! Put these easy resume tips into play, and your updated document will be sure to impress any recruiter or potential employer.

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