May 02, 2012 04:13 PM EDT

Three Ways To Remake Your Resume

You've pumped in the great action words, checked your spelling and grammar and think you've used the right formatting. But here are some things that you might have overlooked, or tips that could take your resume to the next level.

1. Address the Employer's Needs, Not just Yours

Often in the "Objectives" section of the resume, job seekers are tempted to keep emphasizing what they are looking for in the job, instead of selling their product-their qualifications, to the hiring manager.  It is important to thoroughly know the "product," you are selling, your qualifications and abilities. It is even more important to know how to sell it. 

For example, when looking for a job in Communications, MSN Careers Writer Kaitlin Madden stresses that it is a bad idea for a resume to be filled with lines like this one: "To find a position in public relations that will allow me to further my communications career and develop my skill set." This statement is about what the job seeker wants, not what they are offering. Try to emphasize what you will bring to the company. Include in your "Objectives" lines like this one: "To benefit a company through my extensive network of press contacts, 10 years of copywriting experience and demonstrated ability to successfully pitch stories to the media."

When talking about experience, make your language as clear as possible. This means avoiding jargon that that only people in your office or company would understand, such as specific names for programs that wouldn't mean anything to a hiring manager in another company. To avoid this problem, have someone who does not work for your particular company look over your resume.

2. Make Sure Your Resume Is Visually Appealing

Nobody likes to read a chunk of text that's difficult to get through or a page full of information cramped up together with tiny margins. The way you organize the information on your resume goes a long way and emphasizes what you want to show the employer.  Looks can determine whether your resume gets read or not. To make the viewer's job easier, consider:

  • Using wider margins
  • Strategically using bold type, centering certain words and capitalization to call information to certain words. Make it easy for the employer to see any important skills, honors, or experiences that are relevant to the job
  •  Using more bullet lists instead of full, long paragraphs
  • Varying your line lengths
  • Arranging the information in a consistent way. The chronological format puts the information in time order, where most recent experience is listed first. The functional format organizes the resume thematically, according to specific skills which may help to outline those experienced that you want to highlight.
  • Paying attention to the details. Small things like making sure your bullet points align show that you are detail orientated and care about your work.
  • It should look professional. If it is being sent on paper, it should be printed on a neutral color on quality paper. It should be easy on the eyes but not too flashy.

3. Sometimes Less is More

When employers and recruiters are looking for a candidate to fill a post, they specify what skills they are looking for. Often, entry level job seekers include filler information like a long section on "interests." For older workers with more experience, it may actually be a disadvantage to list everything you are interested in, especially if it does not apply to the job, takes up space, and is out of date.  If you have not used a particular skill for many years, you may want to think about whether the skill you listed is all that helpful. The goal is to have everything on your resume somehow relate to what the employer is looking for.

There is a difference between "duties" and "accomplishments." Merely listing what you did at each job is not as exciting for the employer as listing the things you accomplished that make you different from everyone else who did that job. What makes you special? With that being said, avoid using vague descriptions like "creative," or "driven."  Make sure you include facts to back up your claims when taking about your accomplishments.

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