Freshen Up Your Resume in 2016

Freshen Up Your Resume in 2016

Freshen Up Your Resume in 2016

Most people never glance at their resumes until they need or want to find a new job. However, updating your resume regularly can benefit you regardless of your employment status, so don’t let 2016 get too far underway without freshening up your most powerful self-marketing tool.

Why Your Resume Matters

Maybe you love your job and plan to stick with it until retirement. Perhaps you can’t afford to look for a new job because you need the benefits your current employer provides. In those cases, why should you bother updating your resume?

This seemingly inconsequential task offers several benefits, including:

  • Preparation: If you lose your job unexpectedly, you’ll have an up-to-date resume ready for broadcasting to potential employers.
  • Memory: It’s hard to remember the dates of employment periods, certification, licensing, and other details that belong on your resume. Adding them now saves you the trouble of digging up documents later.
  • Clarification: Revisiting the objectives and professional summaries on your resume can help you get clear about your professional goals and aspirations—and how they’ve changed.
  • Promotion: Providing your employer with regularly updated resumes ensures your superiors know about qualifications and skills you have that might lend themselves to a better position.
  • Recruitment: Maybe a headhunter will see your updated resume online or in a slush pile and tap you for a job opening that you wouldn’t want to pass up.

Of course, if you’re actively looking for new employment opportunities, an updated resume gives you more leverage as you approach prospective employers.

Modernize Your Resume’s Appearance

Resume expectations change as the world evolves. Modern employers look for crisp, clean resumes with plenty of white space, according to The Career Experts. You don’t want to pack your resume so full of words that it looks like a chaotic jumble of bullet points and paragraphs.

The Career Experts also advise using consistent formatting throughout your resume. In other words, each section of the document (e.g. Employment History, Education, and Professional Summary) should appear in the same font, style, and size. If you list bullet points under one subheading, use bullet points under the others, too.

Reformat Your Resume

Corporate recruiting expert Rich DeMatteo warns that PDF resumes can become career killers. More than 60 percent of modern companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) to manage and collate resumes from potential employees. These software programs often do not accept resumes over a certain file size and cannot read anything other than RTF (rich text file) formats.

If you submit your resume as a PDF, you could significantly narrow your potential job pool. Since the software cannot read your PDF, your information never turns up in HR- or recruiter-instigated searches of their system. To prevent this, format your resume in Microsoft Word or a compatible word processor.

Delete White Lies and Stretched Truths

A Career Builder survey revealed that nearly 60 percent of employers have uncovered lies on resumes. Even if you’ve never written an outright lie on your resume, such as a degree you never earned or a position you never held, make sure the document contains no stretched truths, either.

You might have slightly exaggerated your sales numbers in an outside sales position, for instance, or boosted your university GPA by a couple percentage points. Weed out those falsehoods now, and make sure that all information is clearly and accurately represented.

Boast About Career Achievements

Have you earned any recent recognition from your employer for outstanding service or impressive achievements? Add them to your resume now so you don’t forget about them.

Potential employers—both in-house and outside your current workplace—want to know how you outperform your colleagues. These achievements make you more attractive for a new job or a promotion from within your current company.

Eliminate Outdated References

If your resume talks about your FORTRAN certification or your Myspace social media account, you risk casting yourself in a poor light. You don’t want potential employers to see you or your skills as irrelevant, so snip those outdated references from the document.

Similarly, remove any sections of your resume that reflect outdated expectations. For example, according to U.S. News and World Report, employers no longer expect to read about references on resumes. If you’ve written “References available upon request” at the bottom of your resume, delete it. Employers know they can ask for references, so save space for more important information by trimming it out.

Add Action Words and Specific Figures

Employers look for potential staffers who accomplish goals and make positive changes. To give the impression that you’re a man or woman of action, start most sentences or phrases in your resume with action words.

You’ll also improve your resume if you replace vague statements with specific figures. A dollar amount or percentage point always serves you better than a phrase like “considerable margin.”

For example, consider this list of accomplishments in a sales professional’s resume:

  • Led a campaign to increase revenue
  • Improved sales associates’ quotas
  • Managed training program for sales department

Led, improved, and managed all serve as action words, but their ubiquitous use in resumes prevents them from standing out. Similarly, these statements include no specific figures. To impress employers, consider using unique action words and actual figures:

  • Orchestrated and oversaw sales campaign that resulted in $1 million in revenue
  • Facilitated 18 percent increases in sales associates’ quotas
  • Cultivated 10-step training program for sales department

These claims stand out because you can defend the specific figures during your interview and the unique action verbs sound fresh and exciting.

Add New Certifications, Licenses, or Training

Many professions require or encourage participants to continue their education. If you’ve taken a training class in a new software program or if you’ve updated your certification in a particular area of study, add it to your resume.

Even if you’re not looking for a job, you want your resume to reflect your most recent and impressive accomplishments. Make sure you add these details to your online resumes, as well, so headhunters and recruiters can identify your capabilities.

Remove Older Information

Refreshing your resume often means making it longer as you add new data. However, long resumes can frustrate employers and make you less appealing.

As you incorporate more recent data, remove older information. The job you held 15 years ago, for example, might not reflect your current professional goals, skills, and abilities. Trim information that is outdated or doesn’t support your current goals. The more tailored your resume is, the more effective it will be in progressing your career in the direction you want.

Sprinkle Keywords throughout the Text

Since many employers use software programs to track and search resumes, they rely on keyword searches to find candidates who meet their needs. Adding relevant keywords to your resume, therefore, increases your visibility.

Consider the type of job you hope to obtain. If you want to work in marketing, for example, you might use words and phrases like:

  • Marketing campaign
  • Marketing metrics
  • Project management
  • Competitive analysis
  • Prospect
  • Lead management

Think about what potential employers want to see, then try to work related words and phrases into your resume.

Start Something New

If you don’t have anything fresh to add to your resume, you might want to pursue a new endeavor, goal, or professional achievement. There are several ways to add impressive bullet points to your resume, such as:

  • Joining a professional organization or group
  • Attending an industry convention or conference
  • Obtaining a license or certification in a particular skill
  • Mentoring an up-and-coming professional in your industry
  • Learning a foreign language
  • Leading a workshop

Freshening up your resume in 2016 ensures the document stays up-to-date and reflects your most current career goals and accomplishments. Even if you don’t plan to switch jobs in the near future, you’ll thank yourself for completing this small but pivotal administrative task.

Laura College
[email protected]