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Ways to Spruce Up Your Resume

A list of words and a person writing a resume

As the world begins to re-open and COVID-19 vaccines are readily available, the job market is showing signs of recovering from last year’s economic shutdown. To make sure you appear as a top candidate on the jobs you’re interested in, here are a few tips to improve the look of your resume.

1. Focus on experience from the past 10-15 years, and include keywords

Regardless of the length of your career, recruiters want to see your most recent experience and how it applies to the job description. Rather than include every job switch in your resume, focus on the past fifteen years. Include 5-6 bullet points under each of your occupations listing your experience and skills, and make sure to begin each phrase with an action verb (i.e. “Collaborates with employees on “x” project.”).

After compiling those bullet points, skim over the job application for specific keywords. Many companies use computer programs to scan over submitted resumes before a recruiter even touches them. These applicant tracking systems (ATS) look for keywords that match each job description, so make sure to reevaluate your resume and incorporate some of those phrases before you apply. For example, if you are applying to a Graphic Design job, make sure to include that phrase into your text, as appropriate.

2. Remove elements that age your resume, such as personal addresses, graduation dates, and outdated software

As the job market gets more and more competitive, it’s important to “age-proof” your resume to avoid appearing outdated to a recruiter. Before you submit your resume, make sure you remove a few of these details:

  • Personal Address: Companies no longer require a street address on your resume. Remove it to avoid any potential identity theft.
  • Graduation Dates: In the “Education” section of your resume, remove your graduation dates from your college or high school degrees. They’re an obvious tip-off to your age.
  • Old Email Addresses: Avoid including email addresses from America Online or other older services. Instead, create a free Gmail account to use on your applications and resumes.
  • Outdated Software: Take a quick glance over the “Skills” section of your resume and delete any outdated software, replacing them with more recent versions. If you’re interested in receiving basic certification for certain skills and software, LinkedIn Learning is a great resource.
  • Mobile Device: When listing your personal information, make sure to include your personal cell phone over a landline so a recruiter can reach you at any time.

3. Keep your resume under two pages

If you’ve had a lengthy career, it’s important to limit your resume to under two pages. Studies have shown that recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reviewing a resume, so it’s important that you use your space to effectively highlight recent work experience that is relevant to your job search and supports your career goals.

4. Consistency is Key

Prior to submitting your resume, give it a proofread to ensure it is streamlined and consistent. Check for grammatical errors, and make sure tiny details like dates and locations are all formatted in the same way. Also, instead of listing job references and work samples in your resume, include a link to your LinkedIn profile with your contact information. Not only can your LinkedIn profile include references, but it’s also a streamlined way to view work samples, recent experience, and skills all in one place.

For more information on career advice, visit aarp.org/workandjobs.

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