Ah, the resume. The place where you try to condense your experience, knowledge, background, and skills onto a single piece of paper and hope that it not only sticks out from the crowd of applicants, but that it properly conveys everything your future boss needs to decide that you’re intelligent enough to do the job. While also not sounding too braggy or too humble, of course.
Resumes can be a pain for a lot of reasons, and can even be intimidating if you’re transitioning from military to civilian life or taking the leap into a new field. But they’re one of the most important pieces in your job hunt, so taking the time to update it is well worth the hassle.
Get rid of old content
Your first job probably isn’t relevant anymore, and your volunteer work when you were in Cub Scouts isn’t either. The rule of thumb is to remove most work experience if it’s over 10 years old unless it’s relevant to the position you’re aiming for. If it is relevant, shine it up and try to condense it if possible. And while you’re at it, take out these five words that make your resume sound lame.
Add core competencies
Core competencies are lists of your competencies that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Many recruiters use applicant tracking systems (ATS) which scan resumes looking for keywords to match applicants with job postings. Not only do core competencies paint a bigger picture of what you’re capable of, but they can also help get your resume through the ATS filtering and into the hands of a recruiter.
Check your references
If you include references, make sure the contact information is up to date. And if you haven’t spoken with a reference in a while, now is probably a good time to either get back in touch or consider exchanging an old reference for a new one.
Update your formatting
The resume you typed up twenty years ago might still be readable on today’s computers, but let’s face it–it doesn’t look good. It may include outdated sections, weird fonts, and may even skip important areas.
Instead of reusing your old resume, you can use a downloadable resume template to create a beautiful, eye-catching resume. And if you’re looking for inspiration on content to include, you can always check out these resume samples for ideas.
Don’t wait to update
While you should definitely update your resume before embarking on a job hunt, you might not think about it if you’re happily employed. But you should! Take a look at your resume every six to twelve months and update the relevant information.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, you probably won’t remember all the responsibilities you’ve had and major projects you’ve worked on over the years between job searches. Adding skills to your resume as you go ensures you get credit where credit is due. Second, you never know when something crazy might happen with your current employer, or when an opportunity arises that you just can’t pass up.
An updated resume ensures you’re ready to jump back into job searching at a moment’s notice, and can help you land on your feet if you need to.