The holidays are over. Many of us made resolutions to find a new job or try for a promotion in 2017, and the good news is that it’s way easier to update your resume than to lose the 20 pounds you targeted in that other resolution.
To find out how to update your resume in five quick steps, we reached out to Paul Miller, director of talent acquisition at Goodwill of North Georgia. Miller says he keeps his own resume up-to-date by using his LinkedIn profile like a notebook — he updates information as soon as he takes a new position and then lists his accomplishments throughout the year. When it’s time for an update to his official resume, all the info is right there.
Even if you haven’t been following this excellent habit, refreshing your resume won’t be a long or difficult process, and it can lead to some great career results in 2017. Here are Miller’s tips for how you update your resume for the new year.
Some of the information you included previously may not be correct anymore, or it may be that resume styles and norms have simply changed. For example, you no longer need to include your full address. “You should only list your city, state and ZIP code,” Miller says, which helps prevent identity theft and bias. You don’t have any control over where that resume ends up once you submit it, so don’t give away too much.
Also, update your email address to one you use solely for your job search. “I once received a fairly explicit email from a candidate who had a friend named Paul, and my name came up first as the type-ahead. Whoops,” he says. And make sure you’re using a current email system. There are many free ones available.
Lastly, simply list a phone number. There’s no need to specify it’s your cell phone, he says.
You likely have worked on several projects since the last time you refreshed your resume. Be sure to include those so recruiters and hiring managers will get a sense of results you’ll deliver for them. “Ninety percent of candidates don’t even list accomplishments,” Miller says. They copy and paste their job description from the ad, then are surprised when no one calls them for an interview, he says.
He recommends one or two sentences describing your job and two or three bullet points of accomplishments per job. For example, “Won customer service award in March 2016; achieved 105 percent of quota; reconfigured team to improve efficiency.”
If you’ve become a certified project manager, taken an OSHA safety course or gotten a new degree since you last updated your resume, you definitely want to highlight those achievements. And if you’re still taking classes and haven’t finished, say that. It will show a recruiter or hiring manager that you’re serious about developing yourself professionally.
Miller says he chatted recently with a bartender who, upon hearing about his job, showed him her resume. It was filled with restaurant/bartending jobs but had an education section at the bottom where she’d written that she was pursuing a degree in human resources, he says. It was clear she enjoyed HR, so “I told her to add her expected graduation date and detail the courses that she had taken, especially ones that she enjoyed and wants to explore as part of her career,” Miller says.
Times New Roman is easy to read, but it’s a little boring. Using it won’t hurt you, but you won’t stand out either. Check your font and overall design, and try for something a little fresher or more streamlined. In 2015, Bloomberg picked Helvetica as its top recommended font, along with Garamond, Didot and Proxima Nova. It cited Times New Roman as an acceptable fallback if these don’t work well, but urged avoiding any flowery, cursive or juvenile fonts like Zapfino or Comic Sans.
Miller agrees with this, but “with a giant asterisk.” He says he loves seeing creativity in resumes if the candidate is applying for a creative position. But he says there’s a real risk of a candidate’s artsy resume being “taken apart by recruiters and managers because they were perceived as inappropriate or ‘trying too hard.’ ” Remember, your accomplishments are what should stick out, not your resume formatting.
You’ll definitely want to do some streamlining and take off positions that are irrelevant. Your old gig at the skating rink doesn’t help you become CFO anywhere. But don’t go overboard, Miller says. “If you cut too much you risk losing the keywords and experience that will take you from a ‘no’ to a ‘yes,’ ” he says. A three-page résumé is fine if it’s all relevant, he says. “To combat ageism, only go back 15 years in your work history, and remove any graduation dates,” he says.
It’s great to have a couple of sentences on your resume that list your strengths and your desire to help a future employer. This can be pretty generic, Miller says. Odds are your strengths won’t change much from one employer to the next.
“But you should have an individual, customized resume for each job you apply to,” with more specifics in your summary, he says. For example, if you apply to be a customer service manager, he says, your goals should focus on something about using your leadership skills and attention to detail to make XYZ Co. the customer service leader in its industry.
The fastest way to be rejected “is to apply to a job with a different job title in your headline. I’ve received dozens of resumes over the years where, for example, someone applies to be a pharmaceutical sales rep with the objective statement saying they want to be in copier sales,” he says. That’s an immediate rejection unless the candidate is spectacular in every single other area.
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