Like nearly everything else in life, your resume needs regular maintenance. Those in the market for a new career or job need to keep their resume current. But even if you aren’t looking for something new you should still make sure that all of your information is up to date and well-written.
In one of my previous articles I wrote about what a potential employer sees when they look at your resume. That article certainly has a lot of tips that can apply to the topic of cleaning up your resume. However, what I want to cover here is how to keep your resume at the ready, regardless of whether you’re job hunting or not. I’ve been asked for my resume when doing side work, putting in bids on work contracts, and even from business associates who are interested in forming new business alliances. Already having your updated resume on tap means that you won’t be scrambling to remember dates or update descriptions and personal information. Let’s take a look at some simple ways to spruce up your resume.
1) Make it make sense. Imagine that you’re not you, and that you’re reading through your resume. Does the information flow well? Is it cluttered? Are there spelling or punctuation errors? Are your job descriptions concise yet still informative and interesting?
2) Update information. Check that your personal contact information, career goals and work experience (especially dates!) are correct. When describing work experience, remember that accomplishments > responsibilities.
3) Use keywords. A little bit of research can go a long way. Using LinkedIn or even Google, check out the people who have the types of jobs you’d like to have, or have had, and see which words they use to describe their position. Look for trends – there will be words that pop up more than others. Using those words in your resume, both in your objectives and your own work experience, can really help to trigger a potential employer’s interest.
4) Make it digital. Today’s job market will often find you uploading your resume, where it must be downloaded by someone else, and possibly printed out, scanned and re-uploaded. This means that if you have things on your resume such as fancy fonts, boxes, bullets or heavy boldface, they may not survive this process and can affect the appeal of your resume. First impressions are everything!
5) Give yourself value. Having an objective at the beginning of your resume has been taught for years, but perhaps it’s time to try something new. Open your resume with a “value statement” – what kind of value would you bring to any company or any position? Things that seem simple, such as the fact that you value loyalty and punctuality, may be the difference between you and someone else being selected for the job. Just don’t put anything that can be found elsewhere on your resume.
6) Ditch irrelevant information. Once you’re well into your career experience, there’s no need to list every job you’ve ever had, especially if it doesn’t have anything to do with your current path or you didn’t accomplish anything particularly wonderful there. Consolidate your information so that anyone reading your resume can get a current image in their mind of you and what you bring to the table.