Spring Clean Your Resume
When was the last time you updated your resume? Even if you’re not actively looking for a job, it’s a good idea to keep your resume fresh. Here are four ways to give your resume a modern makeover.
Cut the Clutter. If you listed every job you’ve ever had—including that three-month stint as a barista in college or the temp job you worked 15 years ago—it’s time to ditch the irrelevant details. Alison Green, writing for U.S. News, tells job seekers that a “resume isn’t meant to be an exhaustive accounting of every job you’ve ever held. It’s a marketing document designed to present you in the strongest, most compelling light.”
Banish Clichés. Are you a detail-oriented problem solver? Great—but so is every other applicant for your dream job. According to Career Strategist Sharon Graham, “Any word used at the right time in the right way can be powerful; however, when a word is overused, it loses its power.” Given the volume of resumes more hiring managers sort through, words like innovative go stale quickly. A good rule of thumb is to imagine the opposite of whatever descriptive term you want to use on your resume. For example, the opposite of detail-oriented is careless, and the opposite of a problem solver is a troublemaker. If, as in this example, the opposite term is overwhelmingly negative, it’s safe to cut the original description from your resume.
Show, Don’t Tell. “Your resume should provide details and examples of your achievements so that the employer can see what you could potentially bring to their role. If you are innovative, don’t say it – prove it,” advises Alex Malley of The Naked CEO. “Describe the processes you have modified or ideas you have developed.” When you complete a major project at work, win an award, or achieve something noteworthy, add it to your resume. Prospective employers are much more impressed with facts than generalities, so update your resume while the specifics are still fresh in your mind.
Focus Above the Fold. “Above the fold” is a newspaper journalism term that’s found continued life in the digital era. While it used to refer to the stories above the crease in a newspaper, it now describes text that appears on a computer screen before a reader needs to scroll down. That area of the page is prime real estate, and yet many resumes waste it on a header containing the jobseekers name and contact information. “That’s what’s going to make your first impression—so, no matter what you have further down, you should ask yourself if the top third of that page serves as a hook that makes the hiring manager to eager to read more,” says Melissa McCreery, writing for The Muse.
Trends come and go, and the must-have resume elements of yesterday are the dated clichés of today. A few years ago, experts recommended that everyone have an objective; now, objectives are passé and jobseekers are encouraged to write executive summaries instead. Next week, that advice will more than likely change again. Instead of following trends, stay focused on the purpose of your resume: To communicate, as clearly and concisely as possible, your qualifications for a particular position. None of the other bells and whistles matter.
A final word of caution: every time you revise your resume, you risk adding a mistake to the document. Proofread after every update, and don’t rely on your word processor’s built-in spell check, which ignores common problems like contextual spelling errors. Instead, try Grammarly, the super-charged automated proofreader. After all, the best way to show that you’re detail oriented is to have an error-free resume!