A few weeks ago, I sat on a hiring committee as part of a selection board responsible for hiring two candidates to fill two positions. My first impressions of the candidate’s résumés left me wondering when the candidates had last updated their résumés. This got me thinking…
What is it about our résumés that make them so difficult to update? Why do good candidates show up with bad resumes?
. . . perhaps it is the overwhelming almost daunting task of reaching back into our own memories and recalling each achievement.
. . . maybe we have an emotional connection to the jobs or people in the jobs we’ve held and we aren’t ready to bring those memories to the surface in order to revamp our resumes?
. . . another possibility – maybe you think your résumé is good and you don’t want to go messing with it. It did after all get you the job you’re currently in – so clearly it works.
But, if you needed your résumé to work for you again, in a pinch…would it?
Here are some quick and easy tips you that may help you update your own résumé.
Everyone’s professional circumstance is different so before implementing any suggestions, above all else, tailor your résumé to the needs of the employer.
- Tidy things up. Look for opportunities to cut out anything that is not directly related to your target job. Have a look at work history that is ancient (10+ years) and possibly no longer relevant to the work you want to do next.
- Include a title. Whatever name the employer has given the position, is the name you want to have appear on your résumé. If you are qualified for the job you’re going after, then you are qualified to have the position title sit beside your name (Jane Doe – Accounting Manager).
- Remove the months. Keep your résumé looking crisp and clean citing the date using only the year.
- Insert your initials. You’ve worked hard to earn your post-secondary education so feature the letters you have earned after your name (John Smith, BA, MA, PhD).
- Justify. Organize your résumé is a way that is easy to read. Use justification (not tab spacing) to left, centre, or right justify the titles, organizations and dates of your work history.
- Consider unpaid experience. Have you added relevant volunteer experience to your résumé? What about publications, or presentations? References? Professional Development? Look at the complete picture of your previous experiences to ensure you have captured the relevant information you want to share with an employer.
- Add your results. Many résumés today give a laundry list of action statements (managed this, directed that) but few go on to tell the most important part of the story: the results. Take a few moments to answer the ‘so what?” question. So you managed something…so what? So you directed something…so what? What happened as a result?
- Research. Take the time to learn what you can about the industry, the position, and the company you’re targeting. Use key words found from your research and inject that exact language into your résumé.
- Draw it out. Identify what makes you the best candidate for the job. Don’t hope the employer reads between the lines to figure out what makes you tick. Write your résumé for your reader by clearly articulating why you’re the person the employer should hire.
- Read. Read. Read. Read the job poster to make certain you have identified and responded to each job requirement the employer has listed. Most employers use a hiring grid that is based upon the job poster. Failure to match the employer’s requirements means risking being left out of the hiring pool. Take your time; use a chart if you need to. Left side: list the requirements of the employer. Right side: list how you meet each of the conditions specified by the employer. Give examples.
Updating your résumé takes time, focus, and a willingness to invest in the job competition process. Many candidates weed themselves out of the hiring pool by simply giving up before completing their résumé. Don’t get caught in that situation. Instead, take a few moments now to update your résumé, arguably one of the most important documents in your career. You’ll be glad you did.
Related Categories: Resumes & ATS
About The Author
Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including the Canadian banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors.