When did you last edit your resume? I admit I haven’t done it in last one year. I think that’s the case with many of us. Unless we are actively looking for a job, we don’t spend time on our resumes. If you are one such person, this guest is for you. When this post was offered to me, I took the chance and gave blogging a break. Let me update my resume while you enjoy the post!
Most people don’t give their resumes a second thought until a job loss or a career change. While these are the most obvious reasons to get a resume up to speed, there are other situations that apply, even if you aren’t currently looking for a new position.
First, you never know when a company will close or go bankrupt, and updating the last year of your resume is easier than updating the past ten. In addition, you may occasionally need to present yourself as an expert, such as at conferences or trade shows. Your resume is part of what qualifies you for these elite engagements. Similarly, many veteran workers get nominated for industry awards, which again require resumes as proof of experience.
Lastly, you may not want to change companies, but you may want to move up the corporate ladder. Having an up-to-date resume allows you to spring into action the moment that a corner office opens up. Here are some tips to help you modernize your resume and get the best results from employers and recruiters.
Update the look
If your resume was designed to be printed, it’s time for an update, as most resumes are now only viewed in an electronic format. Use a font that is easily readable on screens and avoid colors or fancy embellishments.
Avoid old-fashioned fonts like Courier, and opt for modern-looking fonts such as Arial, Calibri, Tahoma or Helvetica. In addition, skip advanced formatting techniques such as tables, line breaks, borders and icons, which can display differently depending on the operating system and screen they are viewed on.
Instead, focus on creating a clean layout with plenty of white space to make scanning easier. One way to do this is by using bulleted lists instead of long paragraphs. Additionally, avoid bolding important words and phrases and instead set them apart as a heading.
Optimize for applicant screening systems
Formatting changes do more than just make the resume easier to read. They also ensure that the resume displays properly in applicant screening systems. Many companies use these systems to track and review resumes instead of doing it manually.
In these scenarios, even the most qualified candidate won’t get an interview if their resume doesn’t line up with what the system is looking for. For example, odd line breaks, unrecognizable graphics and complicated formatting often don’t translate well into these systems.
An important part of optimizing a resume for these systems is including the right keywords. Computerized systems search through resumes looking for words that match the job description, so your resume needs to be relevant to the job. Print out a copy of the application and job description, and highlight the action verbs, nouns, skills and technology included.
Make sure that each of these words are included in your resume, and that they are spelled correctly.
It’s also important to use alternative forms of these keywords. While a human reader might quickly scan resumes looking for words like “wrote,” “published” and “created,” computerized systems often look for nouns, such as “writer” or “publisher,” as well.
Eliminate the objective
If your resume still has an objective listed at the top, it’s a red flag that it hasn’t been updated in a while. The objective has gone by the wayside in favor of a descriptive, informative summary of your professional experience. While the objective was focused on what you want in a job, the summary instead explains who you are and why you are valuable to the employer.
Do away with the duties
Just as employers no longer want to see an objective on a resume, they also don’t want to see a list of duties a candidate performed at each job. Not only are some of the duties irrelevant, but they don’t tell employers how well you performed them.
Instead of including a laundry list of daily tasks, include accomplishments, achievements and results. For example, instead of stating that you trained new employees, state that you developed a customized company training program that decreased turnover by 10%.
Another aspect to focus on is highlighting a pattern of career growth. Whereas resumes used to focus on providing comprehensive job descriptions of each position, now they focus on showing that each position helped the candidate grow.
Emphasize job titles and promotions, as well as new skills or technology learned at each position. If you held multiple positions at a single company, enter them as separate jobs instead of lumping them all together under one entry.
Be selective in what you include
While many aspects of resume design and content have changed, the rule of keeping it at no more than two pages still stands. This can be challenging for industry veterans with long work histories. These individuals need to prune their past experience to only what applies to their current goal. If that goal is a new job, eliminate experience that doesn’t relate to the job. If the goal is simply moving up in a company, target the experience to what is relevant.
The best way to reduce the number of entries is to review your oldest jobs. If these jobs aren’t relevant, delete them entirely. Otherwise, eliminate any bulleted items that aren’t relevant, even if it means you are left with only a job title and a company description. You can use the space that you gain to emphasize more recent skills higher up in the resume.