Is your resume living in the past? It might be time for an upgrade!
Does this sound familiar? You graduated college and worked really hard to put together a professional looking resume. Then every time you updated it, you simply added your current position. Now it has been 15 years and four jobs later and your resume is still in the same format as it was when you graduated college. Additionally, you have grown professionally, taken on more responsibility, maybe even assumed a leadership role. If this is your resume – you’re living in the past. It’s time for a rewrite!
1. Find an updated stylesheet
Since I spend my days looking at resumes, it’s easy for me to tell when you created your resume—1980s, turn of the century, or in the last few years. Font, format and style are revealing. There are hundreds of stylesheets available – find one that will help you highlight your talents. The narrow right or narrow left column are clean and allow you to showcase skills. The use of icons is popular. If you are in a creative industry – be creative! If not, then chose a more conservative template.
2. Lose the objective
Objectives are only appropriate for entry-level candidates. Once you have experience, you’ll replace your objective with a summary statement telling the reader who you are, what you have to offer, and how you’d like to apply your talents.
3. Articulate your personal brand
I’ve written about personal branding before – it’s a big subject. Essentially, your personal brand is who you are as a professional—a combination of your accomplishments, your superpowers, and your value proposition. It’s important to illustrate your brand in your resume. The reader needs to be able to quickly ascertain how you can help her organization and get a feel for your character and values.
4. Eliminate the irrelevant
You have likely done jobs in the past that you no longer wish to do. You have skills that are dated or have nothing to do with your current pursuit. Feel free to eliminate them from your resume to make room for current accomplishments. Remember, no resume should ever exceed two pages, so as you become more experienced, the older roles will need to be removed.
5. Focus on where you are going, not where you’ve been
Your resume is a format for showcasing your accomplishments, not a personal biography of everything you’ve ever done. If you pivoted into a new career five years ago and are continuing on that path, then lose the non-pertinent jobs. If you have been a director for 10 years, then go ahead and eliminate the staff-level and early-career positions. Trust me, the reader will understand that you didn’t graduate college and land as a director in a corporation.
6. Forget the cover letter
I know you hate writing them, so just let them go. The ONLY time you need to include a cover letter with an application is when it is requested and required. If the cover letter is optional, don’t do it. So many job seekers spend hours crafting cover letters that are never read – and won’t ever reach the hiring manager’s eye. Spend more time building your personal brand on LinkedIn– they WILL be looking you up.
It’s completely natural to let your resume become a compilation of every job you’ve ever done – after all, that’s what “update your resume” means. Occasionally, it’s time to start fresh and look toward your future self rather than your past self. It might be time for you to upgrade! For more thoughts on how to modernize your search, visit us here!