Even if you aren’t a serial job seeker, at some point in your grown-up career search, you’ll need a resume. Developing a good one can be just as exhausting as finding a job to apply for, but I’ve got some tips that will hopefully make it easier.
Below are 5 tips for updating your resume. Make sure you grab the Resume Workshop Checklist from our Resource Library to keep track of your updates!
1. Use keywords.
This is an especially important tip when submitting your resume to job search engines as these websites often use keywords to filter out applications that are likely unfit for the position at hand.
When you’ve found a job you want to apply for, take note of specific words used in the post. Then take the extra step to research similar job positions.
Cross reference your notes to see if any words keep coming up, and be sure to include them in your resume to increase your chances of being noticed.
2. Understand the benefits of different resume formats.
Most applicants stick to using chronological resumes, but you may want to consider using a functional resume instead. I had never really heard of this format until I took a business writing course in college, and I’ve been sold on it ever since.
What’s great about a functional resume is that you can really showcase your skills by detailing exactly how your experience meets the job’s requirements.
Use the keywords you’ve found to create headers, and take the opportunity to show off. Functional resumes can also downplay potential shortcomings such as employment gaps. Read about more of the benefits of functional resumes here, if you’re interested.
3. Edit, edit, edit… and edit some more.
Your resume should be well written. It is your first impression on a potential employer, and poor grammar will signal poor communication skills—an often fatal flaw considering most companies want employees who can communicate effectively.
Reading your writing out loud is a good way to proofread a document. You’ll catch small errors that you might have overlooked if reading silently, and you’ll help ensure you aren’t overlooked for the job.
If you’re really not that good with grammar, have someone else review your resume. Even the best writers miss mistakes because while you know what you mean, someone else may not. A second set of eyes will give you a safety net.
4. Be professional.
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised (or maybe not) at how many people ruin a good application by being unprofessional. Whoever you are in touch with at the company, pretend it’s the CEO, and you probably won’t go wrong.
For starters, considering that your header should include contact info, one of the fastest ways to have your resume tossed is to have an inappropriate email address. Lucky for all of us, email addresses are free to create. If the only one you currently have is [email protected], please create another one.
If you’re lost, go with something simple like your name or initials. One blogger even suggests using the space to show school spirit or hint at your skills.
In addition, avoid what I like to call Social Media Syndrome: detailing every small and irrelevant hobby or happening in your life. If it’s not directly pertinent to the position you are applying for, exclude it from your resume and save it for water cooler chat if you get the job.
While you’re at it, be sure to leave out any graphics, quotes or statements about your personal beliefs (religious, political, etc). These tend to visually clutter your resume, and could possibly offend the reader, or simply not entertain them as you might have hoped.
5. Update regularly.
Reworking your resume can be a real pain. While most of us wait to do it until we’re actively applying for jobs, career experts advise finding a regular schedule for updating resumes—at the start of each semester for college students, and a few times a year or after every major accomplishment for others.
Doing so will cut the time you’d spend revising your resume at the last minute, and you’d also ensure that you always have an acceptably polished resume on hand. More importantly though, you’ll actively fill holes in your resume instead of trying to remember everything you’ve accomplished long after it’s done.
Be proactive, not reactive. After all, you never know when opportunity will knock.
We hope you’ll find something of use from our resume tips, and would love to hear from you if you have any tips you’ve found useful. Your resume can make or break you when applying for jobs, but hopefully now yours will shine!