As a headhunter, I’ve looked at thousands of resumes over the years. Most resumes need a lot of work! Here are two things you can do to improve your resume and get more job interviews.
First – PROOFREAD! This is probably something you’ve been told before, but it definitely warrants repeating. You must carefully look for typographical, spelling, grammar, and formatting mistakes. Spelling and grammar check in your word processing program are not enough. These programs often can’t distinguish the proper word usage in a given context, or they may recommend corrections that are contextually wrong based on your original butchering of the word you intended to type. Some common mistakes I see regularly are the use of first person (don’t say “I managed a team of 6”, opt for “Managed a team of 6”), inconsistent formatting and margin alignment (some employer names appear in bold type while others do not, bullet points indented irregularly, etc.), and improper use of similar sounding words (their AND there for example).
A great trick I learned from an English teacher in college was to proofread backwards. Your brain will scrutinize its own handiwork more easily going from the end of the resume to the beginning. I also recommend having a couple of friends or colleagues look over the resume. Another set of eyes can easily catch mistakes you have overlooked.
Second – CUSTOMIZE! When I’m working with a candidate on a specific job opening, I almost always recommend tweaks and revisions to their resume so that it targets the position as much as possible. This does not mean that you should lie or embellish your actual experience! You should definitely check how well your resume speaks to the job description. You may have a particular skill that the job description discusses at length, but it might not be well explained on your resume. An easy trick you can use to modify your resume is to simply cut and paste from the job description and wordsmith the language so it accurately describes your experience. Also, the first 3 or 4 bullet points in a job description are likely to be the most important duties of the job. It certainly makes sense to make sure that the first few bullets of your experience on your resume speaks to these skills (assuming again that you have the skills/experience in question).
Making sure that your resume is free of silly mistakes, and is targeted to the job you are applying to will give you a big advantage over other job seekers. These two tips will definitely help you land more interviews!