Chances are every so often you take time to clean out and update parts of your life – whether it be a closet, the fridge, or your computer desktop. But how often do you update your resume?
The resume often remains a relatively untouched document until the time comes when you suddenly need it, whether that’s due to an unexpected layoff, a sudden opportunity that presents itself, or you’re just ready to make a job change. And in the mad dash to create an updated resume, sometimes one that is several years old, you might not give it the time and attention it deserves.
And that could significantly dampen your job prospects.
After all, your resume is what will determine whether you get a call for an interview. As such, having an updated resume on hand should be a top priority.
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Ideally, you should give your resume an update every time you take on a notable new responsibility, secure a promotion, acquire a new skill, or receive a degree or certification. While that resume update cadence might not be feasible for a lot of busy marketing and creative professionals, getting into the habit of refreshing your resume every six months can save you valuable time in the long run.
Following are tips to consider as you work on your resume update:
CREATE A STRONG BASE RESUME
When you begin your resume update process, first make sure you have a well-constructed base resume that best highlights your core skills, experience, and achievements.
Once you start applying for jobs, you’ll want to rework this base resume by tailoring it to specific opportunities. But the first step is to create a solid resume foundation that can stand on its own.
Choose a clean and simple resume template with an intuitive layout that is easy to read and looks professional. If you’re a graphic designer you might want to create your own design to show off your skills, but if design is not your specialty, there are hundreds of free resume templates online to choose from.
Pick a standard easy-to-read font. Calibri, Cambria, Georgia, Helvetica, and Palatino are a few good options. Some examples to avoid include Comic Sans, Courier, Brush Script, and Impact.
Reminder: The font you choose should remain consistent throughout your resume.
Save your resume as a PDF, unless the job posting asks for another file format. And make sure your resume update is saved using a professional resume file name.
UPDATE YOUR HEADER SECTION
This might seem obvious, but if you haven’t updated your resume in several years there might be some things you’re forgetting.
Your header section should include your first and last name, phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile URL, and a link to your digital portfolio and/or website if applicable.
Also, make sure the email address you list sounds professional. First and last names are ideal, but if that’s not possible some variation of your legal name should be used. If you’re still using firstname.lastname@example.org, for example, it’s time to update your email address.
PRIORITIZE YOUR SUMMARY
After your header section, your resume should include a compelling summary that succinctly captures your value and industry expertise.
If you’re still using a resume objective, consider replacing it with a summary, as objectives are typically used by recent college graduates and those early in their careers.
Some things to consider when writing your resume summary:
Include your top achievements and biggest contributions to previous employers
Make it as relevant as possible to the industry that you want to work in and the job that you are seeking
Include keywords from the job posting
TAILOR YOUR RESUME
If you are using your updated resume to apply for a specific position that you’re really interested in, take the extra time to customize your base resume for that job.
The terms and phrases you use in your resume summary, skills section, and employment history will be especially important. Many employers use software that scans and filters resumes by keywords. You might have an incredible resume with in-demand skills and experience, but you also need to devote attention to keywords so that you get your document past filtering tools and into the hands of a human.
It is important to carefully review each job posting and identify key requirements and required experience and then weave that language (only if applicable, of course!) into your resume.
STREAMLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY
This is often the section of the resume that takes people the most amount of time, and for good reason! Succinctly narrowing down everything you’ve accomplished in your professional career in a handful of bullet points in a way that makes you stand out and utilizes relevant keywords is no easy feat.
However, some rules of thumb that might help you in the process include:
Avoid long blocks of text
Keep responsibilities clear and concise
Incorporate verbiage that speaks to your transferable skills where applicable. (Examples include terms relating to collaboration, communication, adaptability, creative thinking, problem-solving, and initiative)
Use action words to describe your work – led, collaborated, curated, implemented, and launched are just a few to consider
Use quantifiable information (percentage increases, for example) wherever you can because numbers demonstrate real-world value; they show, they don’t just tell
Remove older jobs that are no longer relevant to your career trajectory
REVAMP YOUR SKILLS
Your resume update should include a mix of hard and soft skills. Once again, customize the language as much as possible to the job that you’re applying for. Oftentimes the job listing will include required and desired skills and qualifications, which you can use as a guide for what to highlight.
Include any relevant software, programs, and platforms that you have experience using. This might include email marketing software, social media platforms, content management systems, third-party analytics systems, and creative design programs.
As you work on your updated resume make sure you’re removing old software programs, outdated skills, and antiquated terminology.
REMOVE EXTRANEOUS INFO
Some job seekers include extra sections in their resumes to list volunteer work, board participation, internships, and foreign languages. Depending on the context, this information can be highly valuable or highly unnecessary.
Bottom line: Only include information that is truly relevant to the job at hand or your specific industry. Listing unrelated hobbies or personal family details should be avoided.
Before you submit your resume, carefully proofread it for spelling, grammar, and overall clarity. After you have proofread your updated resume once, step away for a bit, and then proofread it again. As the saying goes, time is the best editor.
Make sure to use a spell checker and a program like Grammarly that checks your grammar and word usage. Read your resume out loud and then have the computer read it to you using a voice-over system. Once it’s in a good place, send it to a friend or family member to review with fresh eyes. And then for good measure give it one last edit before sending it out to prospective employers.
Nothing can undermine an otherwise strong resume like a silly spelling mistake.
WORKING WITH A SPECIALIZED RECRUITMENT AGENCY
If you’re working on a resume update in hopes of landing a new job or freelance opportunity, work with the specialized recruiters at 24 Seven.
Our team is tapped into a vast network of organizations in the marketing, creative, digital, fashion, beauty, and retail sectors. We often know of jobs before they’re even posted and can help you get your foot in the door of your next dream job.
The best part? We work as a free job resource for you!
If you’re ready to start your search, contact a 24 Seven recruiter today.