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Four Things You Can Do to Improve Your Resume

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Alexis has worked in Human Resources and assisted several individuals in finding gainful employment.

How to update your resume effectively.

How to update your resume effectively.

4 Ways to Update Your Resume to Make It Stand Out

Whether you're happily employed, employed but looking, or job searching, you should be updating your resume at least once a year (preferably every 4-6 months). Perhaps you need to review your resume and tweak a small grammatical error you missed last time you dusted it off; maybe your job title changed or you took on a new volunteer role.

Regardless, now is a great time to brush up your resume. There’s never 100% certainty that a job is permanent, and if you do find yourself job hunting, having a primed and ready resume will make job hunting less stressful.

1. Add a Certification or Take a Class

Certifications, especially in your intended career area. always look good on paper. Some careers, such as teaching and psychology, require individuals with certifications to get CEUs (Continuing Education Units) in order to retain or renew their certification. By adding an endorsement or certification, you’re making yourself more marketable and telling current or future employers that you care about what you do and want to grow.

Taking additional classes, even if required, can also help you hone your current skill set. You might not put that you took a research psychology class, but some of the methodology you learn can help you presently and in the future. Plus, you may find yourself interacting with others in your field in your classroom (networking!), presenting new opportunities to grow or new job opportunities.

One thing to mention is that some companies offer tuition reimbursement if you take a class. Most require a year long commitment both before taking (a) course(s) and after completing the course(s). Some companies get around that by offering professional development days and funding. The school I worked at previously offered both tuition reimbursement and professional development funds, but some larger companies offer both as part of their benefits package.

2. Do Volunteer Work

Volunteering is fantastic. Sometimes it takes time to find a cause you feel passionately about, but when you do, it changes you and helps you to grow as a person. You often are able to develop new skills through volunteering and sometimes you are able to obtain on-paper positions in an organization. These tell employers a number of things, not limited to commitment, caring, time management, and unique skill sets.

Again, volunteering is fantastic and something everyone should do every now and then, at least, provided your time and life commitments allow it. If you are unemployed, I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a place to volunteer at. Even if you only volunteer once every week or two, it’s something you can put on your resume and long-term commitments look good to employers. Showing that you’re ‘working’ for a good cause also tells employers that you weren’t sitting around while unemployed, you were getting out there.

Oh, and volunteering can be great for networking. When you volunteer you often meet many people who come from a variety of backgrounds, but unite for a common cause. For example, I have have volunteered for an organization for five years and when they learned I was laid off, I received two job offers! If you make a great impression and connect with others, you may just meet someone who knows your future boss!

3. Learn a New Language

There are overwhelming benefits associating with learning a new language. Job hunting perks are no exception. Learning another language, if only conversationally, can open up doors and the eyes of employers. Being able to speak the language of individuals you are serving or working with allows for more growth of the company and relationships within the company.

Certain languages are more ‘in demand’ than others, depending on where you reside. Common languages that job postings have are;

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  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • German
  • French

What industry you want to be in may determine what language you want to pursue. Some languages are easier to acquire than others (especially if they’re in the same language family as your native language). Being bilingual or multilingual stands out on a resume and is one of the most in-demand skills you can have.

Languages can be acquired on your own, through classes or even meet-up groups. Speaking personally, I can put Spanish and German on my resume. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find others to speak with and not just rely on apps. Learning a new language, again, is an enterprise in itself, but once you do your research and successfully learn a language, putting it on your resume looks good. With hard work, you can become relatively fluent in some language in a year or less.

4. Add ‘Buzzwords’

Essentially a buzzword is a word that industries are talking about. They change from time to time and vary by industry, but one thing is certain, they get you noticed.

Speaking of my own field, education, some examples of buzzwords (or acronyms) are;

  • ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
  • CPM (Competent Learner Model)
  • Highly qualified

Look specifically at job postings for jobs you’re applying to and articles about your intended industry(or industries). Use the words that seem to be prevalent in your resume, especially when describing yourself. Many employers want employees who made progress in previous positions. A resume is a place to show that you know what is what in your current industry (buzzwords!) and know how to apply what you know.

If in doubt, use words that show a good grasp of the English language, but also words that you understand. A quick look through a thesaurus when describing a skill set you are proficient in goes a long way.


Resume formats vary dramatically and there isn’t one size fit all. The content of your resume, however, has more structure. Just like a sandwich, the bread should be holding it together, but the insides and taste are what makes a good sandwich. The content of your resume are the insides, the tastes. Having things that people like such as buzzwords, experience, education, credentials are what makes a resume great (like high quality cheese versus the cheap grocery store kind).

A new year is a great way to kickstart a job search and the best way to start things off right is to polish up your resume. It’s always good to find ways to improve yourself as a professional, especially in a competitive job market (particularly if your industry is competitive). Plus that class may provide networking opportunities, that extra credential being the one thing an employer is looking for. And in todays market, the sad reality is, you have to always be improving, especially to get a new job (sans connections).

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Alexis

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