Resume writing is a difficult skill, and not nearly enough people have it. Far too many job applicants write their resumes too quickly, edit them poorly, or use a writing style that shows little to no personality. There are hundreds of ways that job applicants can improve their resumes. Below you'll find five strategies for both writing and editing your resumes to ensure that they're ready to be seen by employers.
1. Read it Out Loud - How you read your own writing is different from how someone else reads it. That's why you should always read your resume out loud. If the sentences sound disjointed or awkward, they'll read that way to your hiring manager.
2. Avoid the Thesaurus - It's rarely a good idea to use a word that is not a regular part of your vocabulary in your resume, because words have subtleties that make them appropriate or inappropriate for different sentences and prose. Don't use the thesaurus unless you can be 100% confident you are using the word correctly in context, and it's not being used when a simpler word is available.
3. Replace Cliches - In every sentence you write, ask yourself if someone else can say the exact sentence and have it be true about them as well. Resumes should be about what makes you different, not what makes you the same. Phrases that don't help you stand out should be avoided.
4. Don't Try to "Sound Smart" - A common resume mistake is when the applicant tries as hard as they can to sound like an intellectual. While you want to sound like a professional on your resume, you also don't want to sound unnatural. Those that try to write a resume in a voice that doesn't come naturally are going to create resumes that hiring managers don't want to read.
5. Consider the Tenses - Another common mistake is changing the tense of your resume. In general, everything should be past tense, including your current job, with a few rare exceptions. Make sure you're not switching tenses simply because you are unfamiliar with how to use bullet points.
Grammar and spelling are extremely important. But even beyond that, you need to make sure that the way you write your resume sounds like someone with personality and intelligence - someone that the employer will want to hire. If you try too hard to use complicated words, or to create a resume that sounds like how you believe a resume is supposed to sound, rather than focusing on your unique qualities, you'll find that too often your resume becomes generic and unimpressive. Showcase yourself, make sure you're editing your resume thoroughly, and focus on sounding professional more so than sounding "smart."