6 Tips to Beef Up Your Resumé

by Sean O’Brien, former Head Editor, INALJ Colorado

previously published 3/20/13 & 3/25/14

6 Tips to Beef Up Your Resumé

seano1So, you’ve beefed up your work history, found a great resource for job listings, and now you’re itching to get out there and start applying for jobs.  However, sending out applications can be one of the most frustrating and time-consuming steps of your job search, especially after it feels like you’re endlessly filling out the same information only to get no response it all.  Don’t fret, because I’m here to give you a few tips on how to get the most out of your time spent applying.

6. Seek Professional Help.
No beating around the bush on this one.  If you have access to professional resumé writing assistance, use it.  Use it, use it, use it.  If you’re still in school or have recently graduated, go look up your Career Services department.  The rules are going to vary per academic institution, but you may be entitled to help free of charge.  Either way, it’s worth checking out!

If that isn’t an option, consider looking up a local career assistance center or even a professional resumé writer.  These services often come at a cost, but you may want to consider the investment if you’re not getting any bites with your current set of bait.

5. Customize It!
Aside from getting professional assistance, this is my all-time favorite bit of resumé advice; customize every resumé you send out to fit the specific job you are applying for.  That’s right, I said resumé (it should hopefully go without saying this that you need to customize your cover letters).  “Uuugh,” you say.  “That will take forever,” you say.  Maybe, but consider this: is it better to send off a single tailor-made resumé that will be seriously considered, or blast off five generic ones in the same amount of time, only to have them immediately dropped in the wastebasket?

There is a great deal of competition for jobs right now, and if it’s not immediately apparent how your work history is relevant to the job posting, your potential employer isn’t going to want to spend much time trying to figure it out.  That’s why it needs to be clear from the get-go.  Make them feel like you were made for this job, and that it was made for you.

4. Brevity is Your Friend.
It’s always tempting to really expand on your experiences, because hey.  You’re trying to sell yourself, right?  Still, you want to fight that urge as much as you can, and make sure your resumé is in a clean, concise, easy-to-read package.  Hiring managers are only human, and even their attention spans start to wane after they’ve sifted through a few dozen applications.  If they’re going to be reviewing your credentials, you don’t want to give them the time to get bored.

There is some debate about how long exactly you want your resumé to be, but ultimately it’s going to come down to the details of what job you’re applying for, and how much text you feel you need to get your info out there.  Some experts claim that you never want your resumé longer than a single page, but I personally find that a two-page document better reflects my work history.  It all comes down to what you’re comfortable with.

3. Save the Ranting for Facebook.
Whenever you’re filling out your work history, there’s always a space that asks you to explain why you left your last job.  Was your last boss a total lunatic?  Yeah, maybe.  That sort of thing does actually happen, and everyone knows it.  Does your prospective employer know for certain that your side of the story is completely accurate?  Nope, not a chance.  In fact, this sort of outburst may throw your stability and ability to work with others into question, and label you as an unknown quantity that the boss may prefer to avoid entirely.  Give them an answer that honestly reflects what happened, but don’t go into great detail or use language that might seem bitter or inflammatory.

This advice goes double for when you go for the interview later, when you might really feel the sudden urge to lash out at your former boss.

2. Give It the Once-Over.  In Fact, Do It Twice.
This one’s as easy as it is important; proofread your work.  Spellcheck is nice, but won’t catch words that don’t make sense in context, or the dreaded “your vs. you’re” breed of common errors.  Take the time to give your resumé a nice, thorough check to make sure everything’s correct, and that you haven’t made any embarrassing mistakes such as misspelling the name of the library you’re applying to.

In fact, you may want to take a minute to look up some of the common errors with contractions and possessive forms, and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything they stopped teaching after the 5th grade.  No, mistaking a possessive form of a word for its plural isn’t going to affect your ability to do your job.  Yes, it is going to irritate the person reading your resumé if they catch it.

1. Be Patient.
Job hunting is stressful and tough, no two ways about it.  It can be easy to get discouraged, but sometimes the most important thing is to just keep plugging away at it.  Sometimes it may be months before a hiring department even selects resumés to interview, so don’t feel like you’re being totally ignored.  If you’re having absolutely no luck at all, you may want to examine your resumé and application process to see if it can’t be improved in any way.  Remember that you can always improve, and that sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting.

Well, that’s it for this article, but tune in next month where I’ll talk about how to ace that interview once you get it.  And, as always, best of luck in your job searches!


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.