Resumes & Cover Letters

Supercharge your resume in 30 minutes or less

Written by Kate Lopaze

Okay, so you already know you should spend lots of quality time honing your resume, lovingly crafting the masterpiece that will get you your next job. Resumes benefit from time and editing. But reality doesn’t always give us the time we’d like, and sometimes you need to produce a great resume on short notice. Maybe it’s been a while since you updated and an awesome new job opening has popped up, or maybe someone in your network has mentioned that hey, there’s this new job that would be perfect for you—can you submit you resume today? Whatever the time crunch is, it means you have to produce something solid without much notice.

So what do you do when you want to spruce up your resume but you don’t have much time at all? Don’t panic…it’s doable! Let’s walk through some of the best things you can do to supercharge your resume in no time flat.

Choose a format—and stick to it.

If you had more time, you could play with different formats and see what works best for your skills and experience. No time for that today, so choose your path quickly.

If you have a lot of work experience in your field: Go with the traditional reverse-chronological format, where you put your work experience section prominently up front and work backwards through your jobs.

Here’s an example of how your resume can look if you want your experience to be the most prominent feature:

Jenny Smith

21 Jump Street

Evanston, IL 12121

Experienced Store Manager


  • Store manager with more than 10 years experience.
  • Creative, innovative team leader with proven results.
  • Exceeded sales goals by more than 15%, three years in a row.


Big Box Store ‘R Us, 2013 – present

Store Manager

  • Manage a busy Chicago branch of a national department store chain.
  • Lead a team of 60+ employees.
  • Improved in-store sales by 10% in 2017, 9% in 2016, and 8.5% in 2015.

In this example, Jenny goes straight for the emphasis on her work history, and her results.

If you are inexperienced, or just starting out in the field: Go with a skills-based format, where you lead right into a skills summary that relates directly to the job you’re applying for.

Here’s an example of how your resume can look if you want your experience to be the most prominent feature:

Kai Burns

1 Main Street

Los Angeles, CA 12312

Disciplined, enthusiastic recent grad seeking a marketing role at X Corp.


  • Social media expertise (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook)
  • Demonstrated leadership on team projects
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills

In this example, Kai leads with her skills, because she’s a recent grad and doesn’t yet have a ton of work experience or concrete professional results she can call out.

Don’t reinvent the wheel.

You’ve only got 30 minutes, so unless you’re really attached to the idea of creating a resume from scratch at breakneck speed, work with something that already exists. That may be your current resume, but if it’s really outdated or not great then there are lots of pre-existing templates where you can drop in your information and go from there. Using a resume library template can be a major time-saver, especially when you’ve only got a few minutes.

Focus on the short, sweet elements.

You don’t have a lot of time to pore over your experience bullets, but you can spend your time making sure that some of the shorter, punchier parts of the resume are in good shape. For example, make sure you have an effective, attention-grabbing headline. Your headline helps you set the narrative yourself. And this is where having less time can work in your favor: you want to focus on the most important, relevant parts of yourself as an applicant for this particular job, without overthinking it too much.

Similarly, a good summary can help you really focus on your most important strengths as a candidate and what you want to say in your resume.

Use bold action words.

You want your supercharged resume to be potent, not wordy, so it’s all about the word choice. Instead of using long bullet points to develop a point, use a targeted action verb to get the point across faster. It’s not only more effective, but also cuts down on your writing and editing time. Some examples of strong action verbs that look good on your resume:

  • Chaired
  • Coordinated
  • Executed
  • Headed
  • Implemented
  • Maximized
  • Operated
  • Orchestrated
  • Organized
  • Outperformed
  • Overhauled
  • Oversaw
  • Planned
  • Produced
  • Redesigned
  • Streamlined

Saying more by taking up less space is something you can do pretty quickly that has a big impact on the quality of your resume. You’re using your limited time to make sure that parts of your resume pop instead of using the same old verbs that pass unnoticed as a reader skims your resume.

For more on how to punch up your verbs:

5 Action Verbs That Will Energize Your Resume

How to Create a Resume Packed with Action Words

Powerful Action Verbs That Will Make Your Resume Look Like a Million Bucks

Don’t skimp on editing.

The final proofread can be the first thing to go when you’re in a rush. It’s done, it needs to be out the door…it’s probably fine, right? Not so fast. If you’re only taking half an hour with your resume, make sure you slot five minutes at the end to do a careful read of the final doc before you hit send. Ideally, you’d have someone else look at it to make sure everything reads well and there are no glaring errors, but if you truly don’t have enough time to do that, use your own critical eye. You may only have half an hour to work on your resume, but you don’t want your resume to look like it.

Make it look nice.

Again, since you don’t have time for the deep resume dive, focus on as many of the aesthetics as you can. Is your layout clean and easy to read? Are there blocks of uninterrupted text that could be broken into reader-friendly chunks? Is your resume free of odd formatting that might not work on a computer or device screen? A quick pass to make sure your resume looks appealing should be one of the last things you do before you send.

Whether you’ve got 30 minutes or 300, you want to put out the best resume possible. After all, it can be your first step to a new job, and you want to make sure you’re presenting yourself in the best possible way. If you’re crunched for time, it’s important to accept that you don’t have time to finesse every detail—but you do have time to pick the most important points and shine them up so the reader never knows you had such a tight timeline.

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