Updating your resume regularly is important – but most likely, your resume has gotten away on you and needs a serious makeover. To point out the obvious, these times have been trying and updating your resume is another added, daunting stress.
So, let's figure it out!
Your resume and cover letter are your best marketing tools. Think of these documents as your personal advertising. It needs to be eye-catching and give a clear and perfect description of your education, professional experience, skills, and accomplishments. It is one of your most valuable documents – and putting your best face forward will get your foot through the interview door.
Your first task is to choose your resume type
A number one mistake is making your resume too long. A company can receive hundreds of applications and are not interested in every single detail of your working history - only the information pertinent to their needs. Brevity is key.
This is the most common and should be used for an entry-level job.
For a more experienced candidate, this resume length is suitable as long the information on your resume relates to the job listing and company objectives. Always make sure your resume is combined into one document (most likely PDF).
Three-Page Resume or Longer
This style of resume will be for a seasoned professional with a lengthy relevant working history. It is considered an executive resume.
Choose your resume template
Unless you are a graphic designer, stay away from infographic resumes. Choose a resume template design that has a readability factor; meaning balanced white space and a smart layout. As well, make sure it is modern, professional, unique, and eye-catching. Customized resumes will make your application stand out from others.
- Using common fonts (not papyrus, silly!) – try Calibri, Avenir, Verdana, Helvetica.
- Keep your font size to at least 11 points.
- Get rid of paragraphs in exchange for bullet points - even better, keep each point to one sentence.
- Be consistent – if you have chosen to bold your subheadings with size 13pt font, make sure they are all the same.
Remove old work history information - or at least condense it
Get rid of any old job positions – unless you have an executive resume. Any job positions that are older than 10-15 years can be removed, especially if they do not relate or are relevant to the job position.
Update your skills and professional development
Stay away from generic skills like team player, communication, problem-solving. Instead, show why you are good at these skills – prove it! Add any new classes, workshops, schooling that you have taken. Learn a new computer program? Show you are always improving your skills if you want to impress a future employee.
Your resume must be unique to each position that you apply. You need to do a little sleuth work to get results. First, go through the job advertisement. Look for keywords matching your skills. Match as many as you can – the more points you have, the more suitable you are for the job. Next, go through the company website and get a feel for the company their objectives. This can be useful in both your resume and cover letter.
Remove cliches and outdated stuff that undermines your credibility
- You no longer need to have “References Upon Request”. You do not need to offer any references. If they want any references, they will ask.
- Double-space after a period is outdated – back to typewriter days. Fonts today are made for the digital world already have a proper amount of space – it is not just accepted but expected.
Add serious power words
The pen is always more powerful if you give it some creative force. Use strong and powerful verbs to lure a reader. Find some examples here.
Check your contact information.
Check your phone number. Keep your address short; you only need your city, state/province. Make sure your email is professional.
Add some numbers
Companies are looking for numbers. This makes prospective employers see results and what you can do for the company more tangible. Examples of numbers: Cost saving, profit increases, customer ratings, team size, sales revenue, cost reduction, user engagement, response time, test scores, reduction in overtime costs.
Save yourself by saving your files properly
First of all, make sure you check the job posting for the correct format in which to save your resume file. The most common is PDF. This format will keep your resume safe from others altering your template. It is also easy to pull up on any computer. Again, check to see what format the company wants for you to send.
Name your files
Always have your first name and the job title to which you are applying. Do not put RESUME in the file name and always double-check if the job posting has a specific file naming.
Here is an example: NAME_SURNAME_JOBPOSITION.docx
Proofread, dang it!
This is the most important part of making your resume. One small mistake can ruin it all. Proofread it, wait 10 minutes, then read it again with fresh eyes. And then do it again. Get your family, friends, spellcheck, grammar.com, and professional colleagues to scrutinize your application. You only get one chance, so make your resume perfect.
And lastly, be confident and be happy. Put in a little extra effort and the job interview is yours for the taking!