Quick Tips For Updating Your Résumé (Today!)
Updating a résumé might be the only thing more agonizing than filling out a job application. Are your job descriptions too long? What font should you use? Oh, yeah, and what year did you get that certification, again?
In my most recent job search endeavor (which spanned 4-5 months) I rewrote my résumé a few dozen times. Every time I rewrote it, it was still awful. Tweaking a résumé is not fun, and I’m not going to lie to you and say it eventually becomes enjoyable because I don’t think that will ever happen. However, in the midst of all that editing, I learned a few quick tricks that helped me out along the way.
First, here’s the résumé I submitted for my current job:
Keep in mind that in my field (marking, communications, design), it’s ok to have something that looks a little funky. Your résumé doesn’t need to look pretty—it should always look professional—as long as your content is solid. Read on for some of the most important things I learned!
Add Your Current Role
This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes it’s hard to remember everything you do in your current role because you’re too busy doing it. Often times your role exceeds what was originally on our job description because you’ve gained responsibilities and proven yourself capable of taking on other tasks. If your job title doesn’t accurately represent the work you do, it’s even more important to elaborate. Maybe you started out as an assistant, but now you’re managing small projects or spearheading company-wide initiatives.
In most cases, your most recent role will be the longest description (3-5 sentences). Make sure you highlight how your current responsibilities translate into the job description of the new role you’re trying to land. Even if it doesn’t seem like there’s something on your résumé that’s equivalent to “5-10 years of experience,” think of what you do within a broad scope. It’s not each, but you can probably find a way to show you’ve got the necessary knowledge to succeed in the new role.
Rewrite Your Job Descriptions Every Time
This part, to me, was the most painful. Why bother to rewriting a job description for a job I had years ago: it worked then, so why change it? Even though I hated doing this, I also attest my high volume of first interviews to the fact that I took the time to cater each variation of my résumé to a specific job description.
As I read more job postings, I realized some tasks from previous jobs were more applicable than what I currently had on my résumé. By reworking old job descriptions and narrowing my content to only the skills that were most important for the current application, I could bolster my skill set to speak to each new job description. Rather than recycling the same old content and put useless information in front of a hiring manager, my job descriptions mirrored the job requirements for each role. This helped me look like an expert (or at least a semi-expert) in every job application.
Write Less to Say More
It’s tempting to make a bulleted list of everything you do in a job. You do a lot of things, and you deserve credit for all the skills you have to offer! However, when it comes to getting your résumé read, less is definitely more. If you can avoid wasting a hiring manager’s time by getting right to the point, you’ll definitely make a positive impression.
I personally prefer sentences on a résumé and utilize very few bullets to draw attention to specific details I want to stand out. Save some of the broad job overviews for your cover letter (you should always have a cover letter). Your résumé should be as clear and concise as possible. If you’ve followed the advice above, you should be able to trim a lot of fluff.
Determine Your Objective (And Include It)
I always thought writing an objective in a résumé was tacky. I poured my heart into my cover letters, so why did I need an objective on my résumé? Well, even though it pains me to say this after sinking so many hours into writing cover letters, a cover letter might not even be read if your resume doesn’t pass the test first.
Your objective should mirror the hiring company’s mission and voice. If the organization is focused around youth and children, it’s worthwhile to emphasize that these issues are also important to you. Stay true to yourself—don’t lie about your wants in a new role—but make sure you speak the language of the company. As a bonus, this little bit of research into your company’s purpose will help you stand out both on paper and in the interview.
Showcase Your Skills
After you’ve got the written content nailed down, it’s important to include the specific skills you can offer to a company. Include a short (well-organized) section where you list the programs, applications, and tools you know. If a job description asks that you know specific programs, rearrange your list so those appear first. By the same token, if you know how to do something but isn’t relevant to the role you’re applying for, leave it off. For instance, “cash handling” doesn’t mean a lot to an IT department, but it’s a desirable skill sought by banks and small businesses.
Think about this in terms of other parts of your résumé, too. Low GPA? If it’s not required for the application, leave it off and address it tactfully in the interview if it comes up. Do you have specific metrics measuring your successes? Definitely include these details.
Keep It to One Page
The most important thing to remember when writing a résumé is that it should never exceed one page. That doesn’t mean you should make everything 8-point font and cram it into a sheet with narrow margins. It means you should learn how to present yourself in a direct way.
Show your future employer that you have a solid understanding of yourself and your strengths by submitting a résumé that is the truest, best version of yourself. Minimize the fluff to flaunt your stuff.
These tips should be enough to get you started with revising your résumé. Feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts in the comments!