Is it time to refresh your résumé?
If you just bought new, expensive résumé paper, you’ve already made a job-search mistake. Most job applications and résumés are submitted online now–one of countless new trends in the modern hiring process. Many job seekers are using outdated job-search practices, risking the impression that they are unable to keep up with technology.
Are you worried that your résumé is going stale? Read on to determine if it’s time to refresh your résumé.
This first section needs to include your name, address, email and phone number, as well as any links to portfolios or websites. Any links that you do include should be checked to make sure they work, and only include links to sites that you regularly update. Also be sure to include a professional email address, and ditch the inappropriate “OMGlove2party” email, which sounds unprofessional.
Summary of qualifications
This section is the best place to include keywords taken from the job description, since most hiring companies utilize applicant-tracking systems to narrow down possible candidates. However, be sure to incorporate keywords throughout the résumé, and don’t copy and paste the job description.
Another tip is to place the most relevant and interesting experience at the top. Most hiring managers only skim résumés, and leading with strong qualifications can be a good attention-getter. Also be sure to remove any overly personal information. Old job applications used to inquire about marital status, family members and sometimes religious affiliation. Not only is that information illegal to ask now, it’s irrelevant to most positions. Keep your résumé clean, professional and focused.
In 2012, “career objectives” are a rarity. Instead of wasting valuable paper space, include a professional summary in your cover letter and apply it to the position you’re vying for and how it fits into your career plan. Reserve the career achievements/skills section for descriptions of honors or promotions, as well as performance-review quotes that cite strengths and quantifiable information. When referring to past accomplishments and roles, use the past tense. Only current jobs and projects should be written in present tense. Also size up your résumé and determine if you’re including more tasks than results for previous positions. Hiring managers are looking for candidates that can meet daily expectations as well as go above and beyond, which means that including any professional associations and awards is a résumé boost.
Only list relevant jobs, not every part-time gig you held over the past 20 years. If you’re not sure if you should include a job, ask if it’s relevant to this position and to your current career goals. For the employers you do list, make sure to include details on tasks you’re responsible for, as well as the company’s industry — there are 7.5 million companies in the U.S., and most of us don’t know what they do. If you have a gap in your history because of family obligations, “homemaker sabbatical” will sufficiently explain a work hiatus and allow the interviewer to focus on your work accomplishments.
Education and training
Include alma mater details here, as well as any other training, certifications and accomplishments that are relevant to your position. This section doesn’t need to list past courses taken. Unless you’re currently in school and applying for your first full-time position or internship, you most likely don’t need to include your GPA.
Unless the job posting specifically asks for references, don’t include any on your actual résumé. The line, “references available upon request,” is also unnecessary. If you get asked in for an interview, you may want to have a list of references prepared in advance, but keep your contacts to yourself before that step.
- Design your résumé with a focus. Every detail should support the idea that you’re the best candidate for the position.
- Use specific, concrete language that measures your accomplishments.
- Remove overused words, such as “outstanding, effective, strong, exceptional, good, excellent, driven, motivated, seasoned or energetic.” Beware of unsupported claims of greatness.
- Don’t include a photo.
- Résumés should be no more than two pages, but most candidates will be better off with one page. Most hiring managers only glance over résumés, so be conscious of space, and organize the layout with a balance of white space and text –avoid large blocks of text.
- Go through drafts of your résumé before you settle on one that works and then have several friends or family members proofread it. There should be no typos or formatting errors. Aim for a résumé that is clean, refreshing and simple and that can be submitted online easily.