Most of us do a great job keeping our resume up-to-date while we’re looking for a job, but once we have it and we settle in, we tend to let it sit, un-updated, un-refreshed, until suddenly we realize we need it. Then we spend a few days frantically to update it with everything we’ve done over the last year or two years, or even longer.
Wouldn’t it be great if your resume was ready to go when you need it? With just a little bit of regular maintenance you can keep it fresh and polished. And it won’t take nearly as long as you think it will.
WRITE IT DOWN
The first thing to consider is that, like with any writing, the most important piece of advice is to get it down. You can edit it and make it sound perfect later, but for now, just write it down. You don’t need a bulleted list of every task you do every day, but do jot down the big picture items, any stretch projects you’ve worked on, committees you’re on, any professional development you’ve taken part in, etc.
Once you have everything on your resume that you think should be there, take a step back and look at the resume itself. How is it structured? Does it flow in a way that makes it easy to understand your professional journey? You can set it up however makes the most sense to you, whether that’s chronologically, reverse chronologically, or functional, but make sure it’s consistent and easy to read. If it’s not, make the necessary changes.
Think about keywords as well. Most recruiters use keywords to search for relevant resumes. Be sure to include the keywords for the type of roles or functions so your resume will show up in more searches. If you’re not sure what they are, search for job postings of the roles you aspire to get to next and look for the keywords in those descriptions.
You’ll also want to make sure it’s tailored toward the career you’re aiming for. If you’re trying to get a job in HR, think about whether you really need to include that college internship at the marketing firm.
Speaking of college internships, this is the time to look at how far back your resume goes. You don’t typically need more than the last ten or so years of experience on your resume, so if you find that your resume still includes your high school burger-flipping experience, it’s definitely time to start cutting
EDIT, EDIT, EDIT
Once you have your resume set up the way you’d like it, and the information is as accurate and up-to-date as you’d like, it’s time to edit. This is when you should spend the time going over the bullet points you laid out in the first section and make sure they’re worded the way you want them to be. And proofread. Proofread this more than once, then have someone you trust proofread it as well. You definitely don’t want to miss typos, incorrect word usage, or grammar errors.
The last thing you need to do is make sure you update any resumes you have online, whether that’s at LinkedIn, or another resume-hosting set. With LinkedIn, you definitely want to be sure you update your background and experience to match what you have on your resume. Potential employers will be sure to look at that, and you don’t want any discrepancies.
You don’t have to do this exercise very often, but at least once a quarter is ideal. It will be a lot easier to keep in mind everything you’ve done and get it down accurately if you just take a few minutes throughout the year to keep your resume refreshed and polished.
You may want to add that… most recruiters use keywords to search for relevant resumes. Be sure to include the keywords in the type of roles or functions so your resume will show up in more searches. If you don’t know what they are, search for job postings of the roles you aspire to get to next and look for the keywords in the job descriptions. [MJ1]