There’s no time like the present to get your career materials ready for action. Whether you’re amidst a job search or happily employed, it’s always wise to have an updated resume on hand. Should the right opportunity arise, you want to be able to jump.
We suggest updating your resume frequently so it’s not a huge task when the time comes to apply for a new position. But for those just getting started, below are five easy strategies for turning an outdated resume into a powerful and effective job-searching document today.
1. Remove unnecessary and outmoded information.
This includes the tired “Objective Statement,” which has fallen out of favor and speaks more about what you want than what you have to offer. At the tail end of the document, ax the phrase, “References available upon request.” This is understood and only makes a resume appear outdated. Also, delete your full address unless you’re applying for a hyper-local position, opting for your city and state instead. Finally, get rid of superfluous details in your “Education” section. If you’ve attended a university, you don’t need to mention your high school. If you’ve been employed for more than three years, you don’t need to list clubs, volunteer work, or GPA from college. The point is to present a streamlined and clear document. To the weary eyes of a hiring manager, less is often more!
2. Front-load the resume with your value-added.
Resumes are scanned quickly – an average of 6 seconds – before they’re judged. It’s critical then that you highlight your best features above the fold. Entice the hiring manager to read more by explicitly stating what you bring to the table. For example, a brief summary of your experience and capabilities gives the reader an idea of your career “story” and transferable skills. Bulleted career highlights show that you’re able to deliver significant results. A list of your industry expertise lets the hiring manager tick off the boxes and see that you understand the position.
Figure out your value-added by thinking about what you do best: what you’re known for and where you excel. List these skills and accomplishments out and then match them to the language used in the job posting.
3. Convert responsibilities into results.
The single most impactful resume edit you can make is converting lists of responsibilities into lists of results and achievements. Responsibilities, roles, and duties were handed to you. Results and achievements are what you did with them.
For some positions, it’s easy to showcase results. In Sales, for example, there’s hard data in terms of dollars and percentage increases. For other positions, it takes a bit more digging.
In converting your responsibilities into results, consider questions such as:
Did I take an existing process and improve upon it?
Did I save time or money?
Did I create something?
Did I represent my company/brand?
Did I inform or influence the decisions of higher management in any way?
Did I make anyone else’s job easier?
Did I nurture key relationships to retain clientele?
Did I help to promote?
Did I exceed expectations?
Infuse your “Experience” section with hard data and clear-cut results, and you’ll grab the attention of prospective employers.
4. Check your style.
Though content is king on your resume, aesthetic is queen. Create a visually appealing document to capture attention and draw in hiring managers.
Central to resume style is font selection. Stick with modern, neutral fonts like Arial, Calibri, Cambria or the tried-and-true Times New Roman. In the body of your document, stay within 10 – 12 pt font size, exceeding this only for headings and your name.
White space is also critical to a readable, appealing resume. Be sure there are adequate margins and spaces between different sections to allow breaks for the reader’s eye. Going on to two pages is fine, but not if only by a few lines. You don’t want a near-blank second page. Also, be consistent with your spacing. If there’s an 11 pt space between the first two jobs, make sure it’s the same between the second and third.
Finally, be careful with images and colors. Do not include a photo unless called for by your industry. Set a professional tone with blues, greens, and maroons while avoiding jarring yellows and oranges. Be wary of the image presented with pinks and purples and, when in doubt, opt for black, white and gray.
5. Pay attention to your social media.
Hiring managers can (and do) find you online, so be wary of the image you present. During a job search, it’s wise to make your Facebook and Instagram profiles private and check that your profile picture is appropriate and positive.
Also consider optimizing your LinkedIn profile by filling out the summary, making use of your headline with an attention-grabbing title and description, and selecting a professional headshot and neutral background image to complete the visual effect. Customize your URL so that it ends with just your name rather than a list of random letters and numbers and then add that link to your resume “Contact” information. Finally, get active! “Follow” leaders in your field, “like” and “endorse” others’ activities and profiles, and share a post of your own from time to time. Your visibility will increase, and your network will grow.
Whether you opt for professional resume-writing services or take a DIY approach, these edits will transform your career materials. Put distractions by aside and turn your resume into a document you’re proud of today!
Follow Pillar Resumes on Facebook for more tips and strategies and email me today to get started!