A resume is one of those things that can either make you or break you when it comes to job hunting.
The statistics are that the average employer only spends a few seconds looking at a resume, so it is imperative that when yours lands on that desk, it makes an impression.
Your resume is meant to be a “snapshot” of your career and professional history with the intent of capturing and emphasizing interests and securing yo cu the interview.
It won’t necessarily get you the job—that’s where interview prep comes in—but your resume should succeed in getting you the job interview.
As such, your resume should not be used as an autobiography, the history of your life, a summary of your hobbies, or a rundown of all your social media feeds.
Since your resume is the primary tool in your job search, it needs to be carefully written and critiqued. It should be well-structured, organized and formatted.
When you update your resume, it needs to be scannable, in chronological order, free of errors, free of jargon, succinct and easy to read.
1. Change the Visual Style
Give your resume a visual style makeover. Explore the style and presentation options on Creative Market and choose a font, color palette and visual theme that fits with your personal brand.
Simple style elements can attract a potential employer—especially if you’re in a creative field like marketing, public relations, design or event planning.
Watch out for fancy fonts or complex layouts that might be hard to read and stay away from dark or bright colors and graphics that might distract from the actual content.
2. Remove Objective
If you haven’t already, remove the “objective” field as part of updating your resume. That’s yesterday’s news and a potential red flag to hiring managers that you’re not on top of current standards.
The truth is, your objective is clear—to land an interview.
3. Update Your Summary
Update your summary (or referred to as “statement”) with whatever recent growth you’ve accomplished in the past few years. If you were looking for an entry-level position the last time you were job searching, you might now be reaching for a more senior role where you can lead and manage others.
As always, state your ambitions and expectations briefly and clearly, and focus on what you have to offer, not just what you want.
4. Update Your Education
You previous degrees and training qualifications will stay the same, but you’ll want to add any new courses you’ve taken or certifications you’ve earned since you last updated your resume.
5. Update Your Work History
The work section is the meat and potatoes of your job hunt so this part should take a majority of your focus when you’re updating your resume.
You don’t need to go through your daily to-do list and include each and every little task. Instead, detail the results and outcomes of your efforts in order to update your resume with an accomplishments-driven focus.
For example: for each of the positions you’ve held, use action verbs to describe how you contributed to your employers and what you’ve accomplished for them.
Use words and phrases like: cut costs, generated revenue, improved service, enhanced processes, solved problems or saved time.
Don’t forget to quantify as many bullet points as possible. Use numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, comparisons or other key details to back up your claims. Be sure not to reveal facts that disclose proprietary or confidential company information.
Also, make sure that your updated resume includes plenty of relevant keywords. Look for words, phrases, and credentials that continually crop up in ads you want to apply to. If you see terms used frequently, they should probably be on your resume.
6. Update Your Skills
Have you increased your proficiency levels with specific software applications? Have you moved from basic competency to “expert levels” in certain programs?
Have you added new skills to your repertoire that you couldn’t claim in the past? Make sure each of these is represented before you re-launch your search with an update to your resume.
7. Remove Personal Information
Many years ago, we were all encouraged to include personal information on our resumes such as marital status, number of children and hobbies.
But these days that type of information is HR’s worst nightmare. Keep it professional at all times. Unless your hobby or side passion directly correlates with your career and industry, consider removing any personal information.
Perhaps your job hunt will be well-planned or perhaps it’s come as a surprise. Regardless of the reason, it’s always good practice to keep your resume current and up-to-date.
According to Vicki Salemi on Monster.com: “You should update your resume every six to 12 months to add new skills and experiences.”
You never know when the next awesome job opportunity will arise, and you want to be ready for it.
But remember—the only goal of a resume is to get you the interview. Your resume won’t get you the job—that’s your responsibility.