November 14, 2023



10 Ways to Improve Your Professional Resume

Kareem Abukhadra

Author, Founder Relentless

A step-by-step guide to bring your resume from ineffective to irresistible.

At Relentless, we empower candidates.

We bolster your search processes by automating your applications, coaching clients through interviews, negotiating more competitive compensation packages, and building careers that are more than just day jobs. This entire empowerment process begins with one piece of paper, arguably one of the most important documents in your life — your resume.

While there is no one-size-fits-all way to write a resume, there are fundamental principles that every candidate can use to make their resume better. This process can feel daunting for some, so we’ve created a step-by-step guide to strengthen your resume, driving an exponentially more successful job search. These tips are calibrated toward resumes and careers in tech, but are largely applicable to most professional candidates.

We’ll start at the top of your resume and work down to the bottom of the page.

  1. Overall Brevity

Your resume is a short story about your career. Recruiters spend two, maybe three, seconds on their initial pass, so optimize your story accordingly. If you were looking at your resume with fresh eyes, how long would it take you to gain a basic grasp on what you do?

As a rule of thumb, you should have one page per every decade of experience, with at least a third of the first page being dedicated toward your most recent role, or the last year and a half. Everything prior serves as a timeline that brought you to that point.

Here are a few easy ways to shorten your resume and make your story more concise:

  • Instead of dedicating full lines for section dividers “Experience” and Education,” use a thin horizontal line to break between sections. This saves space and makes the page look sleeker.
  • Bullets should be no longer than two lines long. Make sure they don’t go over by a word or two onto a third line, which adds unnecessary length to your resume.
  • Use no larger than size 11 font on your bullets and 12 on your headers.
  • Adjust the margins of your resume to leave less white space around the perimeter, allowing more text to fit onto one page.
  • When you export your resume, double-check to ensure that no text drifts onto a second line, which can throw off your format and push you onto two pages.
  1. Your Current Title

When looking at your resume, recruiters want to get to the bottom of who you are as a candidate as quickly as possible. In a pile of hundreds of candidates, a resume that quickly aligns your experience with their criteria is the fastest way to get into the initial “yes” pile. Pattern matching goes a long way!

Think of the top of your resume as a thesis statement, and the rest of your resume as evidence defending why you deserve the title you list at the top.

Here’s a few different examples of strong openings to resumes:

Here’s 10+ other examples of strong summary statements.

  1. Contact Information

In the image above, you’ll also notice how the contact information is laid out. Let’s dive further into this. Including your phone number and email address is a no-brainer, but some candidates forget to do so. There’s also no need to say “phone number” or “email address” before listing them out. Simply listing your 10-digit phone number (including the area code, no need for a country code in the U.S.) will imply that it’s a phone number. Similarly, email addresses are self-explanatory and don’t need to be labeled.

Next up, many candidates forget to add their LinkedIn URL in their contact information, which can be helpful for recruiters. Rather than pasting a long URL, go to your profile, and on the top right-hand corner, select “Edit Public Profile and URL” and shorten it to your name, or one or two numbers if it’s taken. This looks a lot sleeker on your resume!

Edited URL vs unedited URL:

To take this to the next level, take out the “https” and “www” from the URL, which makes it look even cleaner. It’s unnecessary to type this in to get to a profile, so omit it!

  1. Location

While adding LinkedIn is important, the most significant mistake candidates often make in their contact info is with their location. For starters, there is no need to list out your full address — a city and state will suffice and look a lot sleeker.

Secondly, if you live outside a major city, your location should be where you work, not where you live. For example, if you live in a suburb of New York City and are applying to in-office roles, listing your location as New York, NY, will improve your odds of getting into an interview process than saying you live in the suburbs.

If you’re willing to commute or even better, willing to negotiate with employers to let you work remotely (we’ve seen it work), using “Open to relocation” gets your foot in the door at many companies that would otherwise reject you.

  1. Role Titles

Some employers are great about creating titles for roles that are really clear about what someone does, like “Recruiter” or “Customer Service Manager,” while others are more vague, such as “Talent Partner” and “Support Engineer.” While a Recruiter and Talent Partner may have the same day-to-day functions, as would a Customer Service Advisor and Support Engineer, one title makes this more straightforward than the other. Similarly, simply listing yourself as a “Software Engineer” can be vague, so it’s better to be more specific about what type of tech you’re using, such as “Front End Software Engineer (Javascript).”

In these cases, it’s acceptable to change your title to a more understandable variation. This type of change simply helps a recruiter understand the work that you did, rather than misleading them.

  1. Company Description

Unless you work for brands that are household names, many recruiters won’t know the name of your company and how they may overlap with your target company. Include a one-line description below the company name and above your title that briefly describes the industry, and include fundraising and stock tickers, if applicable. If you can, customize these descriptions to call out commonalities between where you’ve worked and where you’re applying, such as “B2B,” “SaaS platform,” or “health tech.” Here are a few examples of concise company descriptions that are easy to understand:

B2C fintech company ($20M raised)

B2B SaaS platform (NYSE: ABC)

  1. First Bullet

As mentioned earlier, recruiters spend a lot less time than you think looking at resumes. While they’re likely to spend only a few seconds on a first pass, the second pass may include looking at your recent companies, and the first bullet of each role. To optimize your resume for this, make sure that the first bullet includes the most important parts of your role, including any management experience, the type of work you did, and a summary of your biggest outcomes.

Basically, if they were only to get one sentence about the work that you do, what parts set you up to be the most attractive candidate for your next role? Here are a few examples of winning first bullets:

Lead the development and growth of operational strategies; partner with cross-functional senior leaders to define operational KPIs and build solutions to bolster org-wide success

Build and lead a team of 40+ marketers; led lifecycle, content, and loyalty marketing, monetization, profitability, and transactions, impacting more than 40,000 global users

Oversee strategies and timelines for 10+ senior engineers building customer-facing technology products, pricing algorithms, automations, internal tools, and micro-services

  1. Quantify Experience

It’s one thing to say you did good work; it’s another thing to prove it. While not every role tracks KPIs, you should extract as many data points as possible to quantify your experience and effectiveness.

For some roles, like sales and finance, this may be more straightforward, including the number of deals closed or total revenue brought in. For some other roles, you may need to get more creative. Here are a few examples:

  • For product roles, KPIs may include how quickly a project was finished compared to the expected delivery, how many stakeholders you oversaw, or how many users you attracted to your product.
  • For marketing roles, you can include website engagement, call-to-action clicks, marketing funnel growth, return on paid ads, and customer conversion rates.
  • For operations roles, you can include how many teams or employees you supported, how many new tools or strategies you implemented, and how much time your work saved other employees.
  • For recruiters, you can include the total number of hires, total of compensation offered, offer-to-close rates for candidates, and how much the team has grown in your tenure.
  • For UX designers, you can include how often a user may engage with your product, how effectively you optimized any desired interactions, and how many product managers and engineers you worked with cross-functionally on projects.
  1. Leadership

If you oversee a direct team, this should go in your top bullet. This positions you to take on another management role or move into a higher-level IC (individual contributor) role. Include how many people you oversee and what their titles are, if not implied by your position.

Even if you don’t oversee a team, you can still demonstrate leadership. Focus on projects you oversaw, cross-functional initiatives you managed, or relationships with clients, customers, vendors, and any other partner you were in charge of. Even in an entry-level role, you may have managed a front desk or scheduling for senior team members. Whatever you owned, emphasize how well you managed it.

  1. Skills

Many candidates make the mistake of listing skills that are too vague (strong communication, attention to detail, etc.) rather than focusing on applicable tools (Salesforce,, etc.). These soft skills, like communication and organization, should be shown, not told, through your bullets. This area should be reserved specifically for any software, platforms, or hard skills you have, as well as any recent certifications or ongoing educational achievements.

Thanks for making it to the end of this article! If you did so, you’re likely pretty serious about your job search and leveling-up your career. If you need more help with your resume and job search, reach out to our team to set up a free introductory call — we’d love to meet you!

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