Spruce Up Your Resume in Six Steps

For Candidates


As the coronavirus continues to affect industries and individuals worldwide, over 6.6 million Americans have already filed for unemployment. According to the New York Times, “[s]everal economists expect that by the end of the month, more than 20 million people will have been thrown out of work, pushing the unemployment rate toward 15 percent.”

While the economy may take some time to recover, taking the opportunity to prepare and refresh your resume can help give you an edge over other candidates when jobs become more readily available. To help you get started, follow these six simple steps to spruce up your resume.


Step 1: Focus on recent experience

Employers reading your resume are most interested in your recent experience. Look back at the earliest listed positions on your resume—are they still relevant to the types of positions you are interested in now? Simply shorten the description of your role. Consider replacing a long list of job duties and responsibilities with a short paragraph description instead. Now, expand on more recent jobs, especially those with relevant experience for the role in which you are applying.


Step 2: It’s OK to expand your resume’s page length

Though employers once followed the “Golden One Page Resume Rule,” two to three page resumes are often preferred for higher-level executives. Reflect on any new responsibilities at work or conferences, workshops, and events that you have recently attended. Relevant and recent developments should be added to your resume.


Step 3: Use the “CAR” model

Keep track of your accomplishments in quantifiable terms. Fatemah Mirza, founder of CareerTuners, recommends using the “Challenge-Action-Result” (“CAR”) model to enhance the quality of your resume. Highlighting the results you achieved by taking action on specific work challenges immediately gives potential employers the information they really want. By following the “CAR” model, your resume will demonstrate how you went above and beyond expectations.


Step 4: Add new skills you’ve learned—especially technological skills

To spruce up your resume, make sure to include new skills you may have picked up. Listing technological skills will particularly give you an advantage—and remember not to forget experience with blogging or social media. Additionally, removing references to old technologies from your resume is as important as adding references to new ones.


Step 5: Use appropriate “buzzwords”

These days, employers are using search engines to find candidates, and they’re searching for “buzzwords.” When applicable, include certifications, computer programs, professional acronyms, and technical terms, to increase the likelihood that your resume will be found in an online search or in-house database. Beware of overused adjectives such as “innovative,” “detail-oriented,” or “entrepreneurial.” Since so many candidates use these same words to describe themselves, they’ve lost their impact.


Step 6: Proofread

Be sure that your resume is 100% ready before submitting. Fixing simple spelling and grammar errors are just as important as the previous steps to maintain a positive impression with the hiring authority. Have one of your colleagues review your resume to gain a fresh perspective and double check your work.


While following these six steps, be sure to adjust and tailor your resume to the specific jobs you are applying for in order to showcase how well your experiences will be a great fit for the potential role. Remember that keeping your resume up to date is essential even when you’re not actively searchingyou never know when you may get a call from a potential employer or recruiter.


This article, “Spruce Up Your Resume in Six Steps,” has been updated from an original Bristol Associates post from 2016.

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; Hotels and Resorts; Travel, Tourism, and Attractions; Facilities and Concessions; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Restaurant; Hospital and Healthcare; and Nonprofit industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here

Get The Newsletter

Receive Exclusive Career Opportunities, Hiring Best Practices, and More Straight to Your Inbox