How to Edit Your Resume: Knowing what to add, cut or rewrite on your way to a final draft

Editing your resume can suck, especially after putting so much time into writing it. But it’s essential. To make sure your skills and experience are shown in the best possible light, it’s a must-do. By knowing what to add, cut or rewrite, you can create a final draft that stands out and makes a strong impression on potential employers.

The first — and usually the easiest — thing to do, is to review your resume thoroughly and check for typos and grammatical errors. You can do this through spell check. You can also run sentence checks through ChatGPT or other AI writing tools. These tools can be especially helpful when you feel like you have awkward sentences or your bullets are too wordy. But you should still be going over it manually. As advanced as spellcheck and AI tools can be, it can still miss things. So you still need the human touch. 

Besides corrections, consider the appropriate resume format that highlights your strengths and downplays any weaknesses, such as limited experience or employment gaps.

Another key aspect of editing your resume is ensuring that the content is relevant and tailored to the specific job posting. This means including the right keywords, emphasizing your achievements, and optimizing the information to showcase how your skills and experience can contribute to the success of the company. By combining these elements, you’ll create a resume that is both engaging and effective in showcasing your professional value.

Key Sections to Edit in Your Resume

Contact Information

To ensure your prospective employer can easily reach you, check that the contact information section of your resume is accurate and up-to-date. This includes your name, phone number, email address, and any relevant links such as your LinkedIn profile or personal website. Double-check and triple-check your email address and phone number. Keep this section concise, and make sure the information is clearly visible at the top of your document.

Summary Section

An effective summary section highlights your most valuable skills and experiences in a few brief sentences. Avoid generic or cliche phrases like “results-driven professional” or “proven track record of success”. These mean nothing without context and can apply to any job or vocation. Showcase your unique selling points and soft skills that make you a strong candidate for the role.

Experience Section

In the experience section, list your previous roles in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position. For each role, focus on the achievements and responsibilities that relate to the job you’re applying for. Make sure your accomplishments are quantified with concrete figures, such as “increased sales by 20%,” to demonstrate your impact. Don’t hesitate to trim down irrelevant roles or responsibilities to keep this section focused on your relevant experience. Remember, sometimes less is more. 

Education Section

Your education section should provide a clear overview of your degrees, certifications, and any other relevant qualifications. Include the name of the institution you attended, the dates you were enrolled, and the diploma or degree you obtained, highlighting any significant achievements, such as honours or a high GPA, especially if you’re a recent graduate. Keep this section brief though, Remove any outdated or unrelated courses that may not be relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Skills and Certifications

In this section, list your relevant technical and soft skills, as well as any industry-specific certifications you’ve earned. Organize your skills using bullet points, and prioritize the most important ones first, tailoring them to meet the requirements of the job posting. Be honest about your abilities and ensure that you can confidently demonstrate any listed skills during an interview.

Resume Formats and Templates

Choosing the Right Resume Format

When it comes to editing your resume, selecting the right format is crucial. There are three primary resume formats to choose from: chronological, functional, and combined (hybrid). The chronological format highlights your work history in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent job. This format is best for people with a consistent employment history and linear career progression. The functional format focuses on your skills and accomplishments rather than your work history. This format is suitable for those who have employment gaps or are planning a career change. The combined (hybrid) format is a blend of both chronological and functional formats, utilizing the best aspects of each to showcase your achievements and work history.

Using Templates

Templates can make formatting your resume easier. Microsoft Word and Google Docs offer a variety of professional resume templates to help you start. To use a template, simply choose one that aligns with your preferred resume format and adjust the content to reflect your own information. Remember to personalize the design and structure to suit your industry and job application needs. But unless you’re applying to a creative job, keep it simple! 

Resume Builders

Resume builders are online tools that guide you through the process of creating and formatting a professional resume. A good resume builder will offer a variety of format options, customizable templates, and helpful tips on what information to include and how to edit your resume. Resume builders like Zety and Resume Genius save time and effort while ensuring that your resume looks polished and follows industry best practices.

Enhancing Content and Presentation

Incorporating Keywords and Job Descriptions

One crucial aspect of editing your resume is to incorporate relevant keywords and phrases from the job posting. Doing so will help your resume get past applicant tracking systems (ATS), which are often used by employers to filter out resumes before they’re even seen by a hiring manager. Carefully read the job posting and make note of the unique skills, qualifications, and responsibilities mentioned. Then, include these in your own resume, adjusting the wording to fit your experience and style.

Using Bullet Points and Action Verbs

To make your resume as concise and easy to read as possible, use bullet points to present your previous experiences. Begin each bullet with a strong action verb like “managed,” “collaborated,” or “achieved.” This approach not only improves readability, but also highlights your specific contributions to previous jobs. Remember not to overcrowd this section with excessive information, and instead focus on your most relevant and impactful experiences. And make sure you follow those words with context that demonstrates your resulsts.

Focusing on Achievements

Another key factor in editing your resume is to emphasize your accomplishments. Instead of simply listing the duties in each role, provide quantifiable metrics to demonstrate how your work directly contributed to the success of the company or project. For example, mention revenue increases, client growth, or percentage improvements in efficiency. What you can present depends on what your vocation is, but whether your background is in marketing, finance or some other field, showcasing your achievements will help you stand out from other applicants.

Proofreading and Fine-Tuning

Proofreading should be the crucial and final step in perfecting your resume. To catch errors, use spell-checking and grammar-checking software. But as I said in the intro, don’t forget the human touch. Consider the following techniques:

  • Read your resume aloud: Hearing the text can help you identify awkward phrasing or missed punctuation marks.
  • Print your resume: Errors may be more noticeable in print format than onscreen.
  • Ask a friend: Another pair of eyes can spot mistakes you may have missed.


Final Thought…

Taking the time to thoroughly proofread and polish your resume is an important final step before sending it out to employers. While the initial draft may have conveyed your qualifications and experience, small errors or unclear wording could undermine your application. By slowing down and carefully reviewing each section, you can catch typos, formatting inconsistencies, and anything else that may cause confusion. Asking fresh eyes to look it over can surface issues you may have glanced over during your own reviews. Remember – your resume is often the first and only impression an employer has of you. Making it error-free shows attention to detail and paints you in a professional light. Taking that extra time to edit will serve you well in landing more interviews and opportunities. Your resume is a reflection of your skills, so be sure to represent yourself in the best possible way.

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