Published April 14, 2016|4 min read
Spring cleaning forces you to get rid of things you no longer need and allows you to update and improve existing items you forgot you had. Just like you spring clean your home, you can also spring clean your resume. While your resume doesn’t need to be completely trashed (hopefully), it may need to be tweaked and improved. If it’s long, outdated, or riddled with errors, it could be the sole reason you miss out on a job opportunity.Here are seven ways to freshen your resume:
Is your resume full of unnecessary fluff? Jennifer Lasater, Kaplan University’s Vice President of Employer and Career Services, says a good rule of thumb is to keep a resume at one to two pages maximum. It’s also important to limit your listed work experience to what’s recent and what’s relevant. No one cares that you flipped burgers at Wendy’s when you were fourteen or taught arts and crafts at a summer camp in college. A long resume isn't necessarily a better resume. And don’t put your picture on your resume. That’s only acceptable if you are an actor or model.
A consistent mistake that candidates make is sending out resumes that haven’t been recently updated, says Kristin Scarth, Career Services Manager at Employment Boost. For example, if you currently have a job, but your most recent place of employment is listed 2012-2015, someone in HR will assume you’re unemployed. And if you’re not unemployed and the resume error was just an oversight, that same HR person may then think you don’t pay attention to detail and move on to consider other applicants. Scarth says she also sees this issue with cover letters being addressed to the wrong person. Resumes that are addressed incorrectly or riddled with spelling and grammatical errors are easy to pass on.
Have you completed additional training programs, classes, certifications, or degrees in the last year? Be sure to add that to your resume, says Lasater, because that’s impressive to employers. It shows them that you’re smart and valuable and that you’re always learning, growing, and adding to your skill set. But take off your high school diploma. If you've gone to college, you went to high school or have a GED. Listing your high school alma mater on your resume is like listing Microsoft Word as a skill set.
If your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, sign up for Gmail right now. You no longer have AIM; you no longer shop at Aeropostale. Because you are an actual adult applying for an actual adult job, you need to have a professional email address and voicemail message, says Lasater. Think about what your current email address or voicemail message says about you and change it to reflect job-searching you, not bar-searching you.
Employers receive numerous resumes and cover letters daily, even when they’re not hiring for a position. To stand out from the crowd, tailor your resume to the specific job opening, suggests Marissa Klein, co-founder of recruiting firm Choice, Fashion and Media. For example, if the role is as a coordinator and is assistant/entry level work, including that you have answered phones, scheduled calendars, or ran personal errands for C-suite executives in the past proves that you practice what you preach. But don’t embellish, says Klein. If you aren’t fluent in Russian or proficient in Powerpoint, don’t put it on your resume. You have to hold yourself accountable to your skill set. If you get caught in a lie, it may cost you your job.
Look at that bulleted list under your recent job position. If you copied and pasted them from your job description or the employee handbook, remove them. "Just by your job title, those in HR will know what your responsibilities were at your past jobs," explains Scarth. "You need to show a future employer what you can do instead; this will help you stand out from the others in the pile." Replace those bullets with what you accomplished to demonstrate the professional impact you had on your employer.
More than ever, resumes are about what you don’t see as much as what you do. When you apply for a job – especially one in Communications, PR, Marketing, or any job where you represent a client – in addition to your resume and cover letter, your Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter pages are also on the chopping block. Employers want to see what kind of person you are (both on paper and in real life) and decide whether you’re an asset or liability. Clean up your social media pages. Remove bad photos, offensive language, and questionable material. Google yourself and see what an employer may see if he looks you up. And if you’re on LinkedIn – a business-oriented networking service - make sure your headshot is professional, says Lasater. You are strong, smart, and hardworking and need a photo to match. Remove the one of you and your cat or the one of you chugging wine at your cousin’s wedding.
Searching for a job is frustrating enough, so why make it harder on yourself? If you spring clean your resume by making sure it’s updated, professional, and concise, the only thing you’ll have to worry about it is scheduling all the interviews and offers you’ll be juggling.
Image: Women of Color in Tech
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