It’s a competitive job market out there. When you apply for a job, no matter how qualified you are for the new position, it’s absolutely imperative that your resume stands out from the crowd. After all, it’s your resume that will get you noticed out of a stack of resumes on a future employer’s desk. But it’s not just what’s currently on your resume that counts. You want to make sure you are continually making your resume better by taking some steps to improve your skills and your knowledge base. These things will take some time, but they will all be beneficial in the long run.
If you are looking for a job, even if you are still employed, there are some simple steps you can take to improve your resume – and improve your chances of landing that new job.
- Add skills. If you are employed, you have a specific skill set that you can bring to a new job. But what if the job you want requires a different set of skills? Now is the perfect time to take some night classes, or earn some certifications, to help you gain new knowledge and skills. Head to the local community college and take a few classes that will help you get the kind of job you really want.
- Volunteer. Get involved in your community and volunteer for a cause you believe in. When you volunteer, not only are you helping the community where you live, but you are also adding more job experience to your resume. You could volunteer for a literacy program at the library, work with your city council to beautify the downtown area, or even adopt a highway. There are many opportunities available where you can make a difference.
- Go back to school. More education never hurts, especially when you are looking for a job. Go back to school and earn a bachelor’s or a master’s degree that will help you in your career. Many employers will even help pay for tuition or give you a flexible schedule to go to classes. There are many night school programs available for business people looking to better their careers.
- Network. One of the best things you can do to get noticed in a job search is to network. Get to know other people in your job field who could help you land the job of your dreams. You can join networking groups that meet on a weekly or a monthly basis or you could even join networking groups online. Websites such as LinkedIn are dedicated to helping working professionals make connections.
- Ask for projects at work. You might have enough on your plate already at the office, but try to find opportunities in other departments where you can make a contribution. You’ll feel good about pitching in with another area’s project, but you’ll also be widening your skillset by learning about another area of the company. And you never know, you may actually like the work that is done in another department.
- Line up solid references. While it is standard protocol to omit references from resumes nowadays, you want to be ready if a potential employer asks for references at an interview. Well before you start sending out resumes, ask three or four people if they will be a reference for you. At least two of the references should be professional (previous supervisors), and one or two can be academic or character references (former teachers or colleagues). Never ask close friends or family members to serve as references. Make sure that you prep your references beforehand by giving them a copy of your resume and briefing them on your most important accomplishments so they know what to say when a potential employer calls them.
- Hire a resume writer. Hiring a resume writer may seem like an unnecessary step—since it is not actually improving your experience or skill set—but it is an excellent way to set your resume apart from the competition. A resume writer is skilled at formatting and will make your resume readable, scannable, and appealing to the eye. A good writer also knows the language and terminology to use to make your experience sound as professional and impressive as possible. It may cost you hundreds of dollars or so to have your resume completely revamped by a professional, but the cost will be well worth it when those interviews start coming your way.
Look for simple ways to improve your skillset and knowledge base to help your resume grow. It won’t be long until you are on your way to a new and better job (or maybe even a promotion at your current place of employment).
Allen Smith is an avid networker, marketer, and basketball fan. He writes for Your Local Security, a trusted retailer for ADT Home Security.