Makeover Your Résumé

Look good on paper—online too. Career coach Amanda Augustine helps you get your résumé noticed by giving it a fresh, modern and digitally searchable spin. 

update your resume

Illustration by José Luis Merino

Illustration by José Luis Merino

1. Start with your elevator pitch.
Whether you crunch numbers or handle customer complaints for a living, every professional becomes a marketer when searching for a new job. Instead of thinking of your résumé as a record of your work experience, view it as an important part of your personal marketing campaign. 

The top third of your résumé needs to clearly explain your immediate job goals and demonstrate why you’re qualified. Swap out the tired old “objective statement” for a “professional summary” that pitches your value and leads with your qualifications. What’s the difference? A résumé’s objective statement usually consists of a couple of lines that focus on your wants, needs and goals. That may sound great, but it doesn’t focus on the information that an employer actually cares about—what you can do for them. These statements are often packed with fluffy marketing buzzwords (“self-motivated,” “proactive,” “fast learner”) that don’t carry much weight. 

Remember: This process is not about you, it’s about them, so try to remain objective. Avoid sharing past experiences that no longer support your career goals, or dedicating precious résumé real estate to describing what you’re seeking rather than focusing on what you can do for your next employer.

2. Use bullet points as bragging points.
Bullets used to be the way people formatted the information in their work history section. But an endless list of bullets is no more enticing—or easier to skim—than dense blocks of text. Instead, summarize your experience in a format that’s eye-catching and makes it easy for a recruiter to skim and absorb the most important information, like a short blurb describing your role and responsibilities. Then call attention to the information employers care most about—your results—with bullet points. List key contributions, achievements and awards that demonstrate how you’ve used relevant skills and knowledge to create value for your organization.

3. Optimize your résumé with “the bots” in mind.
Many organizations rely on applicant tracking system (ATS) software to prescreen applications as they are submitted, rank them based on their content and send only the most qualified candidates to HR for review. In other words, your résumé must make it past a digital gatekeeper before a human ever sets eyes on it, so you must pepper in relevant keywords. Review the job posting again and identify the terms that pop up throughout the description or are tied to the core requirements. 

4. Embrace your digital footprint.
You need to be a triple threat: on paper, online and in person. It’s no longer enough to have a polished, professional-looking résumé. Most employers will search online for information to corroborate your résumé’s career story. 

Be prepared to advertise your personal brand online. This means Googling your name as it appears on your résumé to monitor your online presence, increasing the security settings on personal accounts you don’t want recruiters to associate with your candidacy, and developing your professional profile on sites like LinkedIn. Include a customized link to your profile at the top of your résumé to point employers in the right direction. Depending on your field, it may be appropriate to include a link to your blog, online portfolio or other social media accounts to highlight your subject-matter expertise.

Amanda Augustine

Courtesy of Amanda Augustine

Courtesy of Amanda Augustine

Amanda Augustine is a certified professional career coach, résumé writer and career advice expert for TopResume.

Résumé Before and After

Before

Leslie Resume Before

Courtesy of Leslie Weber

Courtesy of Leslie Weber

Leslie Weber's resume before revisions.

After

Leslie Resume After

Courtesy of Leslie Weber

Courtesy of Leslie Weber

Leslie Weber's resume after revisions.