Searching for a new job, your resume is your first impression—your calling card. If it’s staler than last year’s Halloween candy, it’s going straight into the “retention file.”
How do you refresh a stale resume?
- Don’t waste your time on expensive stationary. Most resumes are online now; it is rare for an employer to ask you mail your resume. If they do, always follow instructions to the letter.
- Unfortunately, a mailed-in resume gives employers the impression you are behind the times, not up on the latest technology.
- Update all contact information with your name, current address and phone number. Always include an appropriate sounding email—no funny “ILikeToParty@email.com.” Make sure that your email address is suitable for business.
- Add updated links to portfolios or sites where your original pieces are found. If you link to a blog, make sure it is valid, with your best work.
- Not just your resume needs freshening. Clean up controversial posts on social networking sites and double-check that you don’t take pictures of you drinking at a keg party or anything like that.
- Before sending, click all links to double-check everything works properly. Don’t use an email account that you never use—check your email regularly.
- Never use the same resume for every submission. Each job applying for, refresh your list of accomplishments and qualifications based on the job description. It’s necessary to take the job description and incorporate it into your summary—never copy and paste. It is obvious and a quick dismissal.
- With a brief career summary, include current and relevant experience at the top. Recruiters and human resources staff will be scanning quickly, so if you do not have your best stuff at the top—expect it to be passed by.
- Avoid clichés—such as the “career objective” start of your resume. Years ago, job seekers were encouraged to point out objectives and goals. Makes the candidate feel valued, but is a waste of time for the boss. Why? Employers want people who meet their goals, not the employees. It’s fantastic if both you and the company’s goals were in perfect alignment, but let’s be honest—it probably isn’t.
- Instead, write out your objective or mission statement and keep it to yourself. That way you still have it in your mind and continue to work toward it.
- Don’t include every job you have ever had since junior high, unless the job is applicable toward the job you are seeking. If your resume has gaps, it’s essential that you describe them truthfully and clearly.
- Sell yourself! Always include continuing education, awards or recognition for work. Any of those show intelligence, endurance and dedication—things that will make your resume stand out.
- No need to list references, but include “references upon request.” Contact everyone on your reference list and ask permission. This gives them a heads-up; by just asking will provide an image in their mind, and they will begin to think about what they will say.
- Don’t include head shots or a photo, unless it is required. Make sure it’s organized and free of typos or spelling errors.
- It is not required to have a one page resume, but don’t use a super-small font to do so. If it goes on two pages, don’t worry.
For more helpful tips—this podcast by Michael Auzenne and Mark Horstman offers ways to improve your resume for the fall of 2012.