A Practical Guide to Refreshing Your Resume
The labor market is blazing hot, and employees across all industries are in the enviable position of being able to choose where, how, and for whom they work. Now’s the time to take charge of your employment situation. Have you been thinking about leaving your current position? Maybe you’re interested in leveraging other employment opportunities to secure a raise or make working from home a permanent arrangement? Do you simply want to be prepared when a new opportunity presents itself?
Regardless of which applies to your situation, this is a great time to update your resume. What if you don’t know how to rework it for maximum impact? We’ll guide you through some tested strategies for breathing new life into your resume, but do check out our resume services to ensure the best possible results.
Tip #1: Don’t wait until the last minute
Your weekend chores will feel a lot less overwhelming if you spend some time throughout the week maintaining your living space. The same is true for keeping your resume up to date. Don’t start when you’re ready to find a new job—set a reminder in your calendar to update your resume every quarter. In this way, if an opportunity presents itself, you can submit your application right away instead of wasting valuable time cramming in all sorts of new information and purging irrelevant details.
To improve even further your chances of snatching a new, unexpected opportunity, add career blogs to your reading material. Consider requesting informational interviews with people who have your dream job, and seek out organizations that offer mock interviews and resume-building classes. If you really want to position yourself for success, check out our resume services.
Tip #2: Tidy up
It’s easy to accumulate junk that makes your living space feel cramped. You may be holding on to stuff such as wedding invitations from years ago, decades-old swag from a college job fair, and a broken treadmill turned into a clothesline. It’s just as easy for your resume to get cluttered after years of adding new positions and experiences. They may have been relevant when they were shiny and new, but your career is in an entirely different place now, and most of them have no business being on your resume anymore.
The first step in revamping this important document is to purge items that aren’t relevant anymore. Unless you’re just getting started, begin by removing internships, the first job you had after college, obsolete skills or awards, and any other items that are too old to speak to your current qualifications for positions you might apply for. As a general rule, remove any entries you made 15 years ago or earlier. If deleting an item will detract from your resume, mark it to revisit later.
No doubt you were top of your CPR class when you got certified seven years ago. Your copy machine and fax skills were probably just as impressive. Still, you’ll do a lot to improve your resume by removing details about expired licenses, outdated skills, and lapsed proficiencies. Be sure to take out any obsolete training, certifications, or technical skills (but make a note of any you think could be useful).
Keeping outdated or obsolete information on your resume indicates to an employer that you don’t have relevant qualifications. Mentioning your proficiency in a defunct software program, for example, detracts from the relevant skills you have for a position you’re after. With software-related skills, be sure that this section of your resume highlights your proficiency in supported versions. However, keep in mind that there are instances when it makes sense to include your knowledge of old software. Remember the rollout of Windows Vista? That was a time when proficiency in previous versions was a strong asset.
By following these instructions, you’ll be on your way to making sure that every piece of information on your resume adds to your value as a potential employee. Old and irrelevant information wastes valuable real estate that could be used to enhance a hiring manager’s impression of you. Even worse, they might view a cluttered resume as evidence that you were too lazy to update a critical component of your application or that you don’t have any better skills to showcase.
Tip #3: Apply a fresh coat of paint
Remember the jobs and experience you couldn’t bear to send to the trash can when you started revamping your resume? Now’s the time to make these old gems shine.
If the item in question relates to experience, underscore its relevance by including it in your Accomplishments section or listing it as a Notable Contribution. If the position itself is professionally valuable, highlight it as Additional Experience. Listing additional experience is simply a matter of deleting the more specific information about the job. You should include only the company name and your title. In this way, you keep the important information without cluttering your employment history section and accidentally implying that you don’t have anything more recent to present. For example:
D.M. Paper Company, Assistant to the regional manager
If the value of an older position or experience lies in the description, you can include the relevant information as a Notable Contribution or a Key Skills entry. To do this, craft a statement illustrating the competencies from that job or experience you’d like to highlight. Such accomplishments are timeless, so it won’t matter how long ago they happened. For example, if you developed an effective customer retention system, you would shine the spotlight on direct, quantitative evidence of its effectiveness:
Improved customer retention by 16% over two years, leading to an average annual increase in revenue of 42%.
Tip #4: Put the final makeover touches
You’ve eliminated the clutter from your resume. Those forgotten and tarnished gems have been dusted off and polished. Now it’s time to apply a new coat of paint and refresh the window treatments!
Have you updated your resume to include your current position? That’s a must. If you have, does it also reflect the skills, professional experience, and competencies you’ve added since the last update? As you finish giving your resume a makeover, be sure to use current keywords that are relevant to your skill set and experience. Do a bit of research to determine the best keywords since you want to maximize the chances of your resume making it through the applicant tracking systems that most companies use to screen job applications.
If you’re looking for a new position, this is the time to think about the kind of job you want. As you go through listings that interest you, keep an eye out for keywords that appear repeatedly. Do they feature in your resume? If not, get creative and consider adding as many of them as you can. However, take care to do it in a natural way—don’t make it obvious that you’re trying to cram them in. For example, you don’t need to have managed 100 employees to show that you’re capable of leading a team. Maybe you coach a rec league or organize the office holiday party every year. As long as you’re prepared to speak sincerely about how those experiences helped you develop leadership skills, you’re on your way to landing a great new gig!