Time moves in a different dimension when you're job hunting. Managers say they will make a decision "soon," and you don't hear from them for three weeks. Recruiters say they'll get back to you "tomorrow," and they never, ever contact you again. It's a weird and frustrating position to be in. Finding a new job is pretty awful, but there are some things you can do to your résumé to help speed up the process. OK, they won't get you a job tomorrow, but they will increase your chances of getting one.

1. Remove the word responsible from your résumé. "Responsible for budgeting. Responsible for managing clients." Responsible, responsible, responsible. This tells me nothing. I'm responsible for doing the breakfast dishes, but I'm working and they are still on the dining room table. What you want to write instead is, "Managed the budget. Maintained client relationships." Use more active language.

2. Add in some numbers. How many clients? How big was the budget? You were in sales? What were your numbers? (Keep in mind, you don't want to reveal business secrets here, but percentages are generally good.) How many data records did you migrate to a new system? Numbers tell people what you did. There's a huge difference between "managed $10,000 annual budget" and "managed $2.5 million budget."

3. Ditch the objective. It doesn't add to your list of skills, and no one ever writes, "Obtain employment at a mediocre company that will crush my soul." No, every objective is some version of, "Obtain a position in a company where I can reach my potential." Just delete it. It gives you more room for your achievements.

4. Put your titles in normal English. If you work for one of those companies that come up with creative titles, you do have to list your official title on your résumé. Otherwise, when recruiters and hiring managers do reference checks, you won't pass. But after your "Bringer of Joy" title add (Office Manager) so they have a clue what you did.

5. Translate your accomplishments into normal English. Every field has its jargon. Some of this is not easily interpreted by laypeople. Now, in theory, the recruiters should speak the jargon for the job they are recruiting for, but sometimes they just don't. If a recruiter can't understand what you did, you won't get passed on to the hiring manager.

6. Focus on time. "Successfully managed the migration from System A to System B." Awesome. What an accomplishment. How long did it take? Now, of course, if this is something that takes normal companies two weeks to accomplish and under your leadership it took six months, you might want to leave off the dates, but otherwise put them in when it makes sense.

7. Do the math. You might think it's silly to write "Engagement Manager, January 2012 to January 2015 (3 years)" because, of course, the recruiter could easily figure out how long you had the position. But numbers jump off the page and immediately identify you as someone with solid, long-term experience.

8. Make sure you use common phrases. Vocabulary building is great, but if you trained people in SAP, use the words trained and SAP, not "brought other employees to a knowledge and understanding of a popular enterprise software." OK, I've never seen anyone leave out SAP who worked in SAP, but I've seen plenty of people try to make their work seem fancier or more important by using convoluted phrases to describe what they did. Recruiters use keywords when searching through applicant tracking systems. These aren't mysterious words--they are what you'd expect. So, have your résumé full of expected phrases.

9. Have a native speaker proofread your résumé. You should always have a set of outside eyes on your résumé, but, if possible, make sure that person is a native English speaker. (Or, if your résumé is in Spanish, a native Spanish speaker, of course.) Why? Because someone can be fluent in a language and still use phrases that others don't use. It doesn't really matter, of course, but it might disrupt the flow of the résumé and alert someone that you're a foreigner. While, legally, that doesn't matter, in reality people can be subconsciously biased. I'd even recommend that an American applying for a job in London ask a British person to proofread. You don't have to accept the native speaker's ideas, but at least you'll know them.

10. Don't forget the cover letter. It's true that some people won't read it, but having one will never hurt you. Use the cover letter to explain why you are a great fit for this job, not as a place to reiterate what's on your résumé. While your résumé can largely remain the same for every job you apply for (slight tweaks, of course, can make sense), your cover letter should be customized to the job. If you need help, check out Alison Green's advice on cover letters.

Published on: Jun 8, 2015