Spring. A time for new beginnings and possibilities.
Whether you’re a new graduate about to embark on your first job search, or an executive itching for a career change, now is a good time to spring clean your resume and make sure it showcases the skills and experience you need to land your dream job.
Most people don’t think about updating their resumes until it’s absolutely necessary. But there are very good reasons not to wait until you’ve lost your job or are desperate for a new one.
For one, it ensures that you’ve remembered all your recent accomplishments, promotions and skills.
Second, an updated resume helps you feel prepared and ready to hit the ground running if you suddenly find yourself out of a job.
But most importantly, revisiting your resume on a regular basis keeps you focused on your ultimate career goals and sends a subconscious message to yourself that you’re not stuck in your current job if you don’t want to be.
Of course, the best resumes are customized to address the specific job skills of the position for which you are applying. But there are steps you can take to ensure that all the important details are in place when it’s time to look for a new job.
Clear the clutter
Is your first real job as a cashier at Taco Bob’s still applicable to your current career goals? If the answer is no, it’s time to delete it. Does your experience as a summer camp counselor translate to your required job skills? If so, how? Sometimes these extra details only serve to distract from your strongest and most pertinent experience. Edit what’s relevant and get rid of the rest.
Showcase recent skills and accomplishments
Put your best face forward by elaborating on any recent achievements, awards or job promotions. Did you lead your team in the completion of a successful project? Did you come up with a winning concept that resulted in quantifiable sales? Did you gain valuable new skills or insights from workshops or other professional development?
Rather than feeling like a static record of your job skills, a resume should seem as if it’s a living, evolving document of your career growth.
Update your look
Just as your physical appearance in an interview can say a lot about you, the look of your resume can speak volumes as well. It’s usually the very first impression you make, so make sure that it’s communicating the right message.
Is the format clean, modern and easy to follow? Does the font need updating? Is the language friendly, professional and concise?
Giving your resume plenty of white space makes it easier for prospective employers to read. Use bold and italics sparingly. Stick to one font. Avoid verbosity and emphasize skills with bullet points when possible.
Proofread…and then proofread again.
Your resume is complete with all your shiny new skills, achievements and promotions. You have a super cool font and a clean, streamlined format. But, oops, you misspelled a word, failed to add an apostrophe in the correct spot, or have an extra space between words here or there.
These may seem like small mistakes to you, but to employers they stand out like unsightly blemishes and give pause. One of the things that sets a good job candidate apart from an excellent one is attention to detail. Not only is it important to proofread your resume several times, it also helps to ask somebody else to review it. That way they can catch anything you might have missed.
Having a clean, updated resume shifts an employer’s attention away from mistakes and clutter, allowing them to focus on what’s most important: your strengths.