How to transform a weak resume into a strong resume

Strong resume? As a professional resume writer, I have seen my share of weak resumes. There are certain hallmarks of poor ones that all professional resume writers agree are problems.

In the end, the real question is will your resume land you an interview and get you a job?

A weak resume will not.

6 signs of a weak resume

Using a template

Are you using a Microsoft template – right out of the gates if you use one of the Microsoft standard templates, especially the old ones, you will pigeon-hole yourself into a weak resume category.

Including an objective statement

Starting with an objective statement – I can’t tell you how many people tell me that their instructor in high school or college said they had to have one. Stop reading the 1980 resume writing books or English textbooks. Replace the outdated objective statement with your actual target in a banner headline. Employers want to know your actual target.

Keeping the same target on every resume

Target in a banner headline on a resume that never changes. Don’t use the same one if you are changing the position. Rather take the two seconds to edit that banner and change it to the title of the position you are targeting. Go the extra mile and read the reason you are sending compared to the job description, does it fit? If not, edit.

A strong resume identifies your brand.

From the beginning of your resume, you need to stand for something. What value did you bring to the company? How did you impact the bottom line? Did you impact the company with innovation?

Dates on the left.

Readers in the United States read left to right. The best place for the dates is on the right so it isn’t the first thing that hits you. Little conventions like this help the reader move rapidly through your resume.

Bad use of space.

The old style of resume with headings running down the side, leaving a ribbon of white space and only the headings listed. Don’t waste that space. Use the full resume page for content, weaving in white space between sections.

Focus on Duties instead of accomplishments.

The hiring manager doesn’t need to know your duties except as they relate to your accomplishments. Think resume stories.

Key to your strong resume is resume stories (accomplishments, value)

The super stories are the times you made a difference. The new project you took charge to implement, the advice you shared that changed attitudes of the staff, or the costs you reduced to save the $3M. You made a difference and you now have a super story!

Take the weak resume and transform it into a strong resume

  1. Don’t use templates. By using downloadable templates or software provided templates, you run the risk of looking like everyone else. Not to mention that trying to make modifications on a template is very difficult and creates a mess. Microsoft Word skills take time to learn but you can create your unique design and formatting with some study.
  2. You want to create a document that stands out. Professional resume writers craft both words and formats that get attention and that will get you interviews.
  3. Demonstrate your target with a strong resume banner headline that defines your target and matches the employer’s needs.
  4. Don’t avoid color. In a technicolor world, you need color to create a commanding format.
  5. Customize to fit the job target. It’s a 5-second fix.
  6. Position dates on the right.
  7. Showcase your best skills and accomplishments incorporating the keywords that fit your particular target.
  8. Exhibit strength throughout your resume. While I believe in introducing your strongest points early, ensure every word in your resume for each role shows value. View my Resume Samples.
  9. I can’t say it enough – showcase accomplishments.
I help bring out your passion and stories to dig deep into your experiences with you. Learn more here
How to transform a weak resume into a strong resume

Resume Design and Job Seeking Tips

Here are Design Resumes' latest articles on job search, resume design, resume writing, and Linkedin optimization articles I've written.

FREE Resume and Job Search Tips by email

Get free tips and strategy direct to your inbox. just add your name and email below. I respect your privacy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

Here are ways I can help you land your dream job.

You may be halfway across the country or the world. When you work with me, we share coffee, laughs, and concerns. This turns the scary job search into creative, consultative writing and learning sessions.