10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Résumé (Without Actually Doing Anything)

Whether it’s upping the number of shoes in your closet (we won’t judge) or finally getting those highlights you’ve been dying to try, we all feel the urge to indulge in something new. Upgrades aren’t just in our personal lives; they’re necessary for our professional lives, too. But no need to break out the Swiffer and Windex—this one’s going to be an easy cleanup. Check out HC’s 10 simple ways to improve your résumé to help you present yourself in the best possible light. It’s not a matter of doing anything new—it’s just a matter of selling what you’ve already got.  So pull up your resume on your computer and read on! 


1. USE A STANDARD FONT/SIZE

First, Hofstra University Director of Career Services Suzanne Dagger recommends you use a size 10-12 and nothing smaller. The last thing you’ll want is to be placed in the “no” pile just because an employer needed a magnifying glass to determine your major. Once you’ve gotten that down, opt for a basic font like Arial or Times New Roman. “These standard font types are not only easy to read (since our eyes are so used to them), but are also less likely to have conversion problems when uploading a résumé,” Dagger explains. To help avoid this common issue, save your document as both a .doc and .pdf file. Attach the PDF when sending emails—PDFs are more professional and can’t be manipulated.

2. DON’T GET MARGIN HAPPY
Next step: Adjust the margins. You may be thinking: But if I’m only allowed one page, how can I fit everything? Trust us, it’s possible. You must take the time to prioritize your experiences (make sure relevant experience like internships is at the top) to consolidate space. Dagger suggests you stick with ½ inch margins in order to fully maximize the page. If you choose to go thinner, just ensure that they’re consistent and don’t look funky when you print it out. 

3. DELETE HIGH SCHOOL STATS
The third step is simple! Unless you’re a freshman with no other experience that matches your major, high school honors and activities are no longer relevant. Listing things from high school just looks juvenile! Your résumé should be a testament of your accomplishments as a young adult, so determine what is most important and recent. Highlight the clubs and organizations you’re a part of, the leadership roles you participate in, or courses that you’re taking that give you special skills.  If any of your high school accomplishments are mind-blowingly amazing, or extremely relevant to the position you’re now applying for, you can leave them, but otherwise, skip it!
 

4. COMPOSE YOUR OWN CHRONOLOGY
Ever want to write your own autobiography? Well, think of your résumé as a guide to that lovely story (fill us in when it’s being sold at bookstores nationwide). This document should be a detailed list of your accomplishments in chronological order. Though you’re organizing the page into sub-categories, it should be presented with the most recent, relevant experience first. Hint: The meticulous magazine editors of Ed2010 suggest you spell out the months in the dates of your employment (e.g., March 2010-present) rather than 03/10-present.

5. CONSISTENCY IS KEY
You follow MPA style when writing 12 page papers, so your résumé should certainly be no different. Decide on a format and stick to it! So, if you choose to bold a company name or organization, do this every time. If you’re indenting once each line, don’t indent twice near the bottom of the page. You want a crisp, professional look that shows that you care about how you’re presenting yourself. Dagger recommends using bulleted statements as they’re easier to glance at. “Remember, employers may only look at your résumé for 10 to 30 seconds!” she warns.

6. CLEAR & CONCISE
Here is your most difficult task: Incorporating all of your accomplishments and fitting it in one page! That’s why you must use clear and concise language when explaining your experiences, employment, and skills. “Résumés are for glancing; it’s the interview where you can further explain your accomplishments,” says former Seventeen art intern and graphic design major at Montclair University Kelly Lackner. So try this: Imagine that each major experience on your résumé is a word that needs defining and you have a character limit like on Twitter. For example:

Ed2010 Hofstra University Chapter - Vice President

  • Assists president in networking organization that discusses media news and professional advice for aspiring magazine editors.