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There’s only one thing worse than suffering through a personal problem or frustration, like a prolonged job search: watching a friend or loved on go through the same thing. When it comes to our own job searches, struggles, lessons, and lay-offs, our feelings and our sense of optimism are within our control. But when we see someone close to us rolling their own stone up their own mountain, the same rule just doesn’t apply. The experience is just plain painful. And there isn’t much we can do about it…except when we can.
If you’re looking for a way to be your friend’s job search hero and offer practical—not just emotional—support, start here. Use these seven resume-editing tips to make your own world brighter by helping someone else.
1. Ask questions.
Before you get out your red pen or even take a look at the document, ask your friend a few questions. First, what level of responsibility is she targeting? Will her ideal job be an entry-level, mid-level, support, or leadership position? And second, what can she tell you about her industry that you may not already know? Encourage her to talk about the things managers typically look for in this field. Take notes.
2. Do some research.
Your friend can offer one perspective on this field: her own. But job seekers and managers don’t always view the job search in the same light. So do a little internet research to expand your understanding of how this specific hiring process will work and what these specific managers are searching for. What personal traits make them light up, and what kind of accomplishments will impress them the most?
Now, pick up the resume and read it. You can print it out first, but don’t read
with a red pen in your hand. Just move down the page from top to bottom with an open mind. If she has a cover letter for you, read that too.
4. Put the resume down and review your impressions.
After what you’ve just seen, how do you feel about this candidate? What are the details that you remember the most? What are the items that stand out as potential red flags? Which claims and statements left you with questions, or left you wanting to know more?
5. Get out the red ink.
Now take out your editing tools and start helping your friend tighten and shape her message. Start with the subheadings. Are they all there? Do you see a clear summary followed by a section each for education, experience, and skills? Do the contents under each heading fit the heading and flow together logically? Look for parallel structure and accomplishments and claims that make sense.
6. Attack grammar and language flow.
Circle every example of awkward or confusing text. Then circle every adverb, empty buzzword, and use of the passive voice.
7. Attack accomplishments that aren’t.
Circle every statement that adds nothing to your friend’s sales approach. For example, don’t let her list “accomplishments” that are really just basic job descriptions or examples of adequate performance. Every detail of the resume should add something or claim something that will help your friend stand out in the applicant pool.
Start from the Top & Solve Every Problem
When you’ve completed step seven, go back to the top and start fixing. Delete the adverbs, tighten the language, replace weak accomplishments with better ones, and stay in contact with your friend at every turn. Use Livecareer’s resume builder to keep yourself—and your friend—on track to success.