When was the last time you updated your résumé?
If you answered, “When I applied for my current job,” then it’s advisable to set aside some time in the next few weeks to bring it up to date. Granted, this might seem unnecessary if you’re happy in your current position and aren’t looking to make any career changes just yet. However, in today’s labor landscape, there are a number of very good reasons to have a polished résumé ready to go with just one click.
Why your résumé needs to be current
The single most important reason is that you should be prepared for any unforeseen challenges. Regardless of how good you are at your job, issues beyond your control can have a negative impact on your employment situation, for example if your company is being acquired or if your employer needs to make budget cuts.
Another reason is that the best opportunities often come as a surprise. Let’s say you hear about a scholarship for young professionals that would be the perfect way for you to expand your domain expertise—but the application deadline is tomorrow. Having a current résumé can save you time—time better spent researching the scholarship and writing an effective application letter.
Last, but certainly not least, as the “gig economy” grows increasingly important, having an up-to-date résumé will be critical to landing the projects you want. You don’t have to be one of the 33 percent of workers who are freelancers or independent contractors to be affected by the rise of the gig economy. More and more employers are structuring their work as projects in order to attract and retain top talent. If your employer decides to go this route, then it’s in your best interest to have a current résumé you can send out to the stakeholders sponsoring the projects that interest you.
Five tips for freshening up you résumé
So now you know why you need a current résumé, but how do you go about giving yours a makeover? Keep the following five tips in mind.
1. Review your career objective. Is it still the same? If so, then take the paragraph describing your career objective and try to edit it so it’s more streamlined. Omit flowery, rambling language and instead, opt for short, clear sentences with powerful action words. If, on the other hand, your career objective has changed, write a new paragraph containing three to four sentences with your new goals. Again, aim for businesslike, impactful language.
2. Edit your experience section. It’s imperative to keep each section short and relevant to your current goals. In her Monster article titled “Five Steps for Updating Your Résumé,” Caroline Levchuck advises reviewing the last position listed under “experience” to see if it’s still relevant. If it isn’t, delete it. If it is, try to revise it to one sentence. You should also add new items to the experience section. Include the most important projects you’ve worked on since landing your current job with a brief summary of your responsibilities for each.
3. Add measurable accomplishments. List your most recent and impressive accomplishments. Be sure to include measurable values to demonstrate how well you performed. A good example is, “Completed training a team of 25 nursing staff in the use of online patient portals and remote care within the deadline and under budget, saving the employer $75,000.”
4. Review your design. While it can be tempting to give your résumé a snazzy look with unusual fonts and colorful graphics, this is often a waste of time. In the majority of cases, job applications are first reviewed by applicant tracking software (ATS). In order for the ATS to read the résumé correctly, it needs to be in .txt or .docx format and free of “unreadable” content like images and decorative elements.
5. Make it safe. In the Time article “What Your Résumé Should Look Like in 2016,” Daniel Bortz reminds us that including your full address can leave you vulnerable to identity theft. Instead, simply include your email address, city, and zip code on your résumé.
Remember: by freshening up your résumé now, you’re investing in your ability to respond quickly and effectively to career opportunities when they come your way.
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