Six Ways to Elevate A Résumé

A résumé is a bit like a profile picture. It needs to be recognizable while being the best, most current representation. This living document will need to change about once a year. Typically, we look at a résumé only when applying for another job. We may simply glance at the dates, the contact information and send it on. However, to really get another job, it deserves a deeper dive.

The #1 goal of a résumé is to get an interview. The goal of the interview is to be offered the job. Imagine the manager who will read the résumé with an eye to the open position. What skill or responsibility is the team missing? How will a new person fit into the culture of the workplace? Answers to these questions are hinted at in a job description, which should include skills needed, responsibilities to be assumed and information about the work environment.

Is the résumé easy to read?

Take 5 seconds and skim the page. See what the eye is most drawn to.

Things that should pop off the page: my name, my summary (headline or brand), my relevant skills or highlights.

Easy fix: Make the name larger and the summary short and prominent. Use bullet points for skills.

Does it look fresh?

Use a font size large enough to read easily, size 11 or greater. Utilize a clear font, Calibri, Arial, Georgia, Helvetica, Garamond or similar. Break up any large blocks of text to create a balance of print and white space.

Easy fix: Update the font and correct any too-small fonts. Limit the number of words used in descriptions and use bullets to organize important information. Use Bold and/or Italics to set off important words.

Can the employer guess my age?

The hiring manager may have an idea what age person they are seeking. My graduation date 15+ years ago is too much information. So are jobs from more than 10 years ago. If in doubt, leave it OUT. Provide no more than 7-10 years of work history. Leave them guessing.

Easy fix: Remove older work listings and remove dates from education, unless a recent graduate.

Is it clear that I possess the needed skills?

Use keywords from the job description when possible. Delete irrelevant or excess information.

Easy fix: Use a scanner like to show the matches and misses between the résumé and the job description.

Does it showcase my strengths?

The headline or summary at the top of the résumé must clearly fit the intended job. For example, the summary for a Customer Service Agent may be Customer Service Professional with over 5 years of experience. Use this in place of an objective at the top of the document just under contact information.

Is it finished?

Ensure the résumé is FREE OF ERRORS and well-suited for the job sought.

Easy fix: Have a trusted associate or professional read through the résumé and give honest feedback.

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The Job Help Center at Main Library has Résumé Review Service available. Email a copy of your résumé to Allow 3-5 days for a response from a staff member.

The library also provides a quick review day or night through Create an account on, using a library card, then upload your résumé to the review drop-off. A review summary will be available in the account within 24 hours.

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