Whichever stage you are in your career, refreshing your resume is one of the best things you can do to land a new job. Even if you’re not actively on the job hunt right now, it’s still a good practice. Try updating your resume once a year to keep track of your accomplishments and ensure the next time you’re ready for a promotion, your resume is ready to share. Here are fifteen tips to guide you in the revising and refreshing of your resume:
1. Be mindful of resume optimization
You’re probably aware that many employers now use computerized systems to scan resumes for keywords and quickly narrow down the list of potential candidates. Employers want to know if you’re qualified. While it’s still okay to follow a common sense resume structure, it’s important to revise your resume with this pattern-recognition software in mind. Software programs will rank information in a hierarchy according to an employer’s needs.
2. Emphasize your skills
In order to make it past the software scan, you need your resume to clearly state the skills you have that your potential employer desires. Consider listing your skills at the top of your resume, and then following with a professional summary and employment history. Review the job listing for keywords to incorporate these words into your resume.
3. Steer clear of jargon
Remember that a computer scanning your resume won’t understand metaphors or jargon. If you state that you’re a Renaissance man (or woman), you’re not going to get past the initial scan – and such language probably wouldn’t impress your potential employers, either. Be clear and specific when describing your skills.
4. Add relevant details to your employment history
Instead of just listing the names of past companies you’ve worked for and your dates of employment there, include relevant details about the company size, its customer base, and so on. Review the job description again and look for clues about how your previous job experience places you in perfect position to work for the company you’re sending your resume to – for example, do you have experience working for a company of similar size? Make sure this is apparent.
5. Format your job description– but keep it honest
There’s a chance your official job title may not reflect the full reality of your job or your professional capabilities. This is especially true if your job title is listed as “manager” or “program coordinator.” In this case, consider adding in a keyword or two into the description that better encompass the scope of your position. Just make sure that your editing or supplementing still faithfully describes your work. You can’t lie about your professional responsibilities or exaggerate them.
6. Quantify what you can
Incorporate as many facts and figures as you can. For example, think about the number of people impacted by your work, or whether you can calculate the percentage by which you exceeded any fundraising goals. Depending on your profession, this may be easily accomplished, or may take a bit of creativity. If you can’t come up with easy figures, focus on providing answers to the following areas: range, frequency, and scale. For example: About how many clients did you supervise? How often did you evaluate articles for publication? What scale did your budget operate on, and did you find ways to save money?
7. Don’t share too much
Resist the urge to put everything you’ve ever done on your resume. Don’t think of your resume as a comprehensive list of your career. Think of it as a marketing document that has been tailored to highlight the reasons why you are exceptionally qualified for the position you seek.
8. Focus on formatting
Some professions, such as those focused on graphic design, might demand a more visually creative resume. But for everyone else, it’s best to keep it simple, and use classic and readable fonts. It’s also to your advantage to leave a good amount of white space on the page to increase readability.
9. Revisit and revamp your contact information
Your contact information needs to be prominent, but it no longer needs to include your home address. A professional email address and phone number will suffice. In place of your address, consider including information about where your employers can find you on the web, such as your LinkedIn profile or Twitter handle (provided your social media sites are suitable for prospective employers to see).
10. Scale down to a page
There will always be some who insist that a two- to three-page resume is ideal, but most would agree that a resume should be kept to a page. If you truly have enough relevant experience to showcase on a second page, go ahead – but see if you can first scale back to a page. Do you have five to six bullet points under each section? See if you can reduce them to two to three. Professional recruiters will thank you.
11. Smooth over any gaps
Depending on where you are in your career – maybe you’re looking for a first serious job, or you’ve switched careers after taking time off – you may have gaps in your work history. In this case, don’t list the start and end dates for each job you’ve held. Use years only. Avoid the temptation to get cute about your time spent out of the work force by inventing reasons for unemployment. If you need to address serious gaps in your work history, do so in your summary statement at the beginning.
12. Don’t list references
And don’t write “references available upon request.” If employers are interested in hiring you, they’ll let you know if they need references, and they’ll assume you’ll have them ready.
13. Proofread twice
Make sure your resume is perfect. Not only do you need to have proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling, you must also see that you’ve varied your word choice, and described your career history in accurate and exciting ways. Once you’ve gone through your resume carefully, give it to a trusted friend or colleague, and have them give you feedback about what you could change.
14. Don’t be afraid to ask a professional for help
You have your own set of professional capabilities. Resume writing and design may not be one of them – and that’s okay. There are professionals to help you with any resume concerns, from rewriting to redesigning your format. Consider hiring a Fiverr resume writer right here. Your resume is the first thing potential employers will look at, and you owe it to yourself to get it right.
15. Apply for fewer jobs in a smarter way
Rather than revising your resume until it becomes a suitable but bland document you could send to hundreds of potential employers, think about which jobs you really want to pursue. It’s better to invest your time in creating customized resumes for specific job positions. Applying to fewer jobs with a thoughtfully targeted resume will ultimately get you farther.