When was the last time you updated your resume?
If you answered anything other than “earlier this year”, don’t procrastinate. Do it now.
Case in point: A 30-something agency VP told me last week about her failure to be considered for a significant job with another firm because she didn’t have an up-to-date resume. She last updated it when she interviewed with her current employer for an intern seven years ago. She indicated to the agency recruiter that she was swamped with client work, but would “try” to revise her resume in the next week to 10 days. The recruiter was being pressured to find a candidate ASAP, so he found other candidates with current resumes.
Mary Lee Montague, Executive Vice President of global recruiter DHR International, says keeping your resume and LinkedIn profile updated is similar to keeping your wardrobe up to date…”if you don’t look the part you can’t play the part.”
“Each time you complete a significant project, reach a pertinent goal, or receive an award you take the time to write it down if for no other reason than to keep track of your bragging rights. That way when under pressure to strut your stuff for a prospective new opportunity (either internal or external) you are ready to impress,” Mary Lee says. “That new opportunity will always come at a time when least expected–you can count on that!
“Think about your achievements in categories such as: financial, marketing, operations, management, sales, technology, etc. as well as tactical AND strategic,” Mary Lee recommends. ” Use descriptives and numbers. Paint a picture of your successes in order for the reader to visualize YOU doing the same for THEIR company. It is my experience that some people are afraid to brag. This could be your one chance to interview for that DREAM JOB…put yourself out there.”
Where to start? Focus on the top and bottom of your resume. Obviously, your current position should be your primary focus, but most people include too much about past jobs. Avoid regurgitating boilerplate position descriptions. Instead, develop at least five accomplishment-laden bullet points. Use measurable numbers where possible–“increased sales by 35%” and “doubled website page requests” trump “responsible for PR programs supporting sales initiatives” or “provide content for corporate website.” Then turn to the list of skills at the end of the resume. Beef up the bullet points for your prior positions, but remember to follow my 5-4-3-2-1 rule of providing fewer bullets for each prior position.
Be sure to pick a conservative, elegant format for your resume. Remember that white space speaks volumes since it lets the key points stand out. Start with a resume template available online from Microsoft and others.
Put a reminder in your Outlook calendar to review your resume at least twice a year even if you love your current position. When you hear about the perfect next career move, you don’t want to miss being considered because of an outdated resume.