When it comes to applying for jobs, looking good on paper is important. After all, you'll only get to the next step—an interview—if your resume grabs the attention of hiring managers. If you've already done the basics of crafting your resume, it's time to move on to the next phase: making each individual position shine with the work experience section.
But how? We've rounded up tips and tricks that'll help make jobs sound impressive on your resume—without going too far, and making yourself appear boastful or silly.
Which sounds better? Option 1: "Served tables at busy restaurant" or Option 2: "Served 15 tables simultaneously at busy restaurant."
You'll probably pick option number two, which is just a bit more descriptive thanks to the use of numbers. It's surprising how meaningful metrics can be—and that's true even for positions that are English-major friendly. If your position is staff writer, your resume can list how many articles you write each month or how many page views you receive online, for instance.
You probably thought about formatting, from font choice to margin size, at some point during your resume creation. But take a second look at each job description that you have listed, with an eye toward how easily each description can be absorbed. Consider the readability from both a copy and a design perspective.
If it's a bit too take in, consider cutting some copy or using less jargon. (Some jargon is good, but using all buzzwords and acronyms can make a resume hard to read.) And, make sure there's plenty of white space—you can add this by using bullet points or paragraph breaks.
Of course, it goes without saying that having typos or grammatical errors in your job description is detrimental to their readability.
Talk Accomplishments, Not Tasks
It's tempting when describing a job on your resume to create a bulleted list of tasks, essentially writing down your day (or week's) to do list when you were on the job. But most likely, that's information that hiring managers already know from looking at the job title. Instead of a to-do list, share accomplishments and achievements.
Rather than write, "Designed window display on monthly basis," you might write, "Increased customer walk-in rate by 10% with themed window displays, updated on monthly basis."
If you led a meeting, talk about what happened during that meeting, how you steered it, or what got done as a result of your leadership. Or, if you create a monthly report, talk about why the report matter—did it help keep the budget on track, prioritize sales efforts, or engage customers? See more tips for sharing accomplishments on your resume.
Choose Powerful Words
A caution: Don't go over the top with your word choice. No need to break out the thesaurus on a hunt for zany, unusual words! But be aware that some words are just more exciting than others—here are some recommended power words to use on your resume.
Review your job descriptions for words that get re-used throughout the document. Try to vary them more. Instead of "managed," for instance, try "supervised" or "coordinated."
There are some words that often come up on resumes. Think: "team player" or "detail oriented." These words and phrases can feel stale to hiring managers. Consider ways you can show off that you have these skills rather than stating you possess them. For instance, instead of saying "detail-oriented" maybe you can have a bullet point about "Releasing clean code and helping others track down small code errors."
One cautionary note: There's making your job sound impressive and meaningful—and then there's boasting. If you puff up recognizable positions with over-the-top language, it can really backfire and make you seem silly.
The hiring manager will know what it means if your job title is "assistant" or "manager" and aggrandizing the position's responsibilities with inflated language won't help you land an interview.
And definitely, do not be deceitful or dishonest. Lying on your resume can cost you a job opportunity and is even grounds for dismissal if the lie is discovered after you're hired on—here's more on why it's important to keep your resume honest.