Polishing Your Resume to Make the Best Impression

Writing a resume can be stressful due to it creating the first impression to a potential employer. With wanting to make the first impression count, it's important to revise and polish your resume to show the right story in regards to a career. Read this blog post to learn more.

Your resume is your introduction to a potential employer. Make that first impression count, because it will determine whether the employer wants to interview you.

Take the time to revise your resume until it tells the right story about your career and how you can do the job the employer needs filled. A resume never springs complete in a single draft from anyone's keyboard.

Does My Resume Tell the Right Story?

As you write, rewrite, polish and otherwise revise your resume, regularly refer to your target job deconstruction, which clearly outlines the story your unique resume needs to tell. When you feel the story that you're telling is clearly focused and complete, review it against these questions:

  • Are my statements relevant to the target job?
  • Where have I repeated myself? Is the repetition redundant or does it make my resume stronger?
  • Is every paragraph focused on the employer's needs?
  • Can I cut out any sentences? Or, can I shorten a long sentence? Can I break that one long sentence into two short ones?

Short sentences pack more punch. And: If in doubt, cut it out!

Let's review the sections of the resume to make sure you've got all the parts of your story in order. Download this template for help.

Target Job Title

Use a headline to draw readers in. Do you have a target job title that echoes the words and intent of the job descriptions you collected when deconstructing your target job?

Performance Profile/Summary

This short paragraph follows the target job title and reflects the priorities and language used in typical employer postings for this job. Keep this summary to no longer than seven lines—just list the "must haves" of the job. Also keep it short because dense blocks of type make reading harder. If your profile/summary runs longer, cut it into two paragraphs or one paragraph that's followed by bullets.

Professional Skills

List the skills you bring to your work that support the statements made in the preceding performance profile section. Prioritize the skills so the most important come first.


Your work history should start with your most recent job and work backwards. Make sure each entry emphasizes relevant experience, contributions and achievements. Can you include endorsements of your work, if they are relevant? Leave out lists of references and only mention they are available upon request.


In all of the above entries about your work experience, whenever you can, give examples of doing your job efficiently and well, and emphasize these achievements with examples. Quantify your examples whenever you can and make them easy to read by listing them in bullet points. You can encourage a reader to call you for an interview by telling what you've done, but not explaining. Create a reason for starting a conversation.


Your educational record usually comes at the end of the resume and starts with your highest level of education. It should also include professional courses and accreditations that support your candidacy. However, if you work in education, law, medicine, sciences or other professions that put an emphasis on academic accreditations, your educational attainments will usually come at the beginning after the target job title and professional profile.

Much of the success of a project is determined by the amount of preparation put into it, and this is where the prep work gets done on your resume. I once worked with a senior HR partner on a resume and strategic career transition, and, before the job was finished, we had completed eight revisions, each one giving us just a little tighter focus and that much more punch. It took about two and a half weeks, but generated eight interviews in seven days, one of which landed her a senior position at Microsoft.

SOURCE: Yate, M. (16 June 2020) "Polishing Your Resume to Make the Best Impression" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/polishing-your-resume-to-make-the-best-impression.aspx

What Employers Need to Know About Successful Second Chance Hiring

With today's unemployment rate at the lowest it's ever been, many companies are beginning to explore untapped talent pools and unlikely candidates. Continue reading this blog post from SHRM to learn more.

Between the First Step Act bill being passed and SHRM's efforts towards Getting talent back to work, there are a lot of discussions opening up around second chance hiring. Before, it was pretty standard to assume that if you checked that box of "have you been convicted of a felony," you weren't going to get the job.

Today, our unemployment rate is the lowest it's ever been - forcing companies to explore untapped talent pools and unlikely candidates. As the Founder of a staffing agency for second chances, this makes me very excited. But it also frightens me.

I have worked with inmates, felons, and people in recovery over the past five years by helping them find their passion and meaningful employment. It is not as simple as making a decision to hire people with a criminal background. With this being such a hot topic, I thought I'd give a few tips for those considering hiring people with a criminal background.

1. Non-violent drug charges aren't always the safest bet.

I hear it all the time. And usually people who have never been arrested or spent time in prison. They talk about just hiring people who have non-violent drug charges. In my personal experience, those are usually some of my more difficult cases. A lot of people with non-violent drug charges have one of two addictions: 1. making fast money OR  2. doing drugs. Relapse for either of these are more likely if an individual isn't seeking proper treatment or counseling. A job opportunity alone isn't always enough to keep someone on the right path. I have noticed that my best employees are the most unlikely and most overlooked: Those who lost the most. AKA: People who spent time in prison for harsher charges such as assault, robbery or murder.

2. People who spent time in prison are great manipulators.

Manipulation is a skill best learned in prison. Inmates are very resourceful and know how to get what they want. This is why the formerly incarcerated individuals who are reformed make amazing sales people, debt collectors or call center representatives. But we won't always have a reformed person with a change of heart sitting across from us as we are interviewing for a position. Even your greatest "people-reading" employee can be tricked into making the wrong hire if they are not educated on what to look for and what to ask in the interviewing process. Making the right second chance hire can grow your business tremendously but only if you make strategic hires and give the right second chances to the right people. Not everyone wants to change and we have to accept that as a possibility for responsible hiring.

3. Second chance hiring isn't charity.

When people talk about giving a second chance, it always sounds very charity or philanthropy-like. While I'm glad these discussions are happening, I'm disappointed people speak about second chance hiring like it's a favor to someone. It's actually a favor to your company to bring in a hungry, hard-working, loyal employee that will be grateful you gave them a chance. Growing a team of second chance employees can literally grow your business faster. Your second chance hires will go the extra mile, stay late and come in early. Not for a raise or recognition, but to help grow the company that helped grow them. An organic tea company came to us to make their first official second chance hire a year ago. Today, they've hired 70 people who have a criminal background.

When I first started my company, a for-profit staffing agency for second chances, people thought I was crazy. (I am, proudly) But it seemed like a far-fetched goal to bank on the success of felons. I knew how effective second chance hiring would be, so instead of starting a non-profit and spending my time raising money, I wanted to raise men and women through meaningful job placements. I have seen first-hand the successes and failures when it comes to helping people coming out of prison find employment. My biggest fear is that we are going to successfully create an awareness for second chance hiring and see poor results because of lack of education or tools. This could hurt the reputation of what we are trying to do and hurt the reputation of people who really do deserve real opportunities and have transformed their lives.

SOURCE: Garcia, C. (4 April 2019) "What Employers Need to Know About Successful Second Chance Hiring" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://blog.shrm.org/blog/what-employers-need-to-know-about-successful-second-chance-hiring

This post is the first in a series for Second Chance Month, which highlights the need to improve re-entry for citizens returning to society and reduce recidivism. One of the primary ways to do this is by providing an opportunity for gainful employment. To sign the pledge and access the toolkit with information on how to create second chances at your company, visit GettingTalentBacktoWork.org.