Updating your resume that hasn’t been touched for over a decade can seem like a daunting task. With this four-week guide, what once was an overwhelming task you’ve been putting off for years, is now a month away from being a resume you can be proud of.
If it’s been a while since you last updated your resume, or you are looking to apply for a specific role, it is important to update your accomplishments, certifications, education, and most current roles. Your resume should reflect you, your career stage -early, mid, senior – and your industry. The best approach for updating your resume is to update it as you progress each step throughout your career. But, if it has been a while since you last looked at your resume, no need to worry. This four-week guide will help guide you through the process and get your resume in shape.
Week 1: Update Roles and Experience
Start by updating your resume with your recent roles and experiences. Update job titles, dates, and any volunteer positions like professional boards, etc. This first round of changes should include things like the training certification you received last year or the community volunteer activities you participated in during any career breaks.
Once you have a section for your new job titles, add in any important projects you’ve worked on. This part doesn’t have to be pretty – we will refine it in the future weeks. You can quickly think of any details you want to include which will be a one- or two-word reminder to eventually build out. If you need to hunt down details or information to jog your memory on a project, this is a good time to start gathering it for future updates.
Update any details such as a name change, new email address, phone number, and adding in a website or LinkedIn URL.
You can also do these same updates on your LinkedIn page. Don’t forget to generate a personal LinkedIn URL to include on your resume to direct potential employers to your LinkedIn profile, making it easier to network and communicate.
Week 2: Tell Your Story
Now that you’ve updated your framework, you can fill in the details and frame your story. Ditch the old objective statement and create a high-level overview that gives your elevator pitch – Who are you? Where are you in your career? What do you want people to remember about your resume?
List your job accomplishments, special projects, etc., in descriptive bullets for each position. This is where you go into detail about how you provided value during your roles to demonstrate results. How many people were on your team? How many attendees were at your event? By what percentage did you exceed your goal?
Include your accomplishments throughout each role. It may be difficult to think of all the tasks and details of what you have accomplished in your career thus far, which is why it is important to track your goals and accomplishments from here on out. Jot down any certifications, training, courses, etc., that you have completed during your time in that position. Incorporate how you were able to save the company time, money, and increase revenue. It is critical to show how you have added value to your previous roles, and it is extremely helpful to prove you are valuable with factual, accurate data you have kept track of.
To further strengthen your accomplishments, reduce the wordiness throughout your resume. Use action verbs to display your leadership and impact while working on a project. Include percentages, statistics, and quantifiable data to further convey your results of previous positions. Use two words instead of four. Remove most of the “a, an, the, of, to” words. My Modern Resume Writing Workbook has more practical tips like this and is available for only $14.97 and you can download it immediately.
Week 3: Remove Outdated and Irrelevant Details
Your resume is starting to take shape! All your information is updated now it’s time to refine. Review your resume with an eagle eye and look for things that might need to be updated. Be clear and concise. Cut out irrelevant details. Your first jobs, or old internships that you had 10+ years ago, are not necessary. Highlight your most current positions that show longevity, growth, and development you have added to the company.
If you are a professional with 10+ years of experience, there is no need to include your high school education history. Delete short positions or internships you may have had from college. Include your more permanent positions, even if there are fewer of them.
Cut out your home address and portrait. Don’t include any personal information, such as your age or home address. Keep it brief. If you’re still using that old AOL or Hotmail email address, it’s time to update it so you aren’t automatically labeled as not technologically savvy.
Week 4: Polish Your Layout
Depending on what type of job you are applying for, the layout and aesthetic details on your resume will vary. If you are applying to a technical, mathematical position, keep it simple and minimal. Use an easy-to-read font such as Calibri or Lato and make it easy for viewers to see your success in every position.
If you are applying to a marketing/ media position, show your creative side in a professional manner. Maybe you decide to spice up your header by adding some color or switch it up with a more creative font (Raleway, Georgia). Don’t go overboard. Make your titles eye-catching, but don’t make your resume too distracting with fonts, colors, and sizing that it becomes difficult to follow.
Don’t try to squeeze your entire career onto one page if you’re mid-career. You are allowed to have two pages! Make your resume easy to read and visually appealing. Your margins should not be less than .5 inches and fonts should be smaller than 9pt.
Your resume is complete! Your next step is to create a calendar reminder to keep updating your resume and LinkedIn profile every month. Adding new credentials, skills, and metric-focused accomplishments as you go will make it easier when you do need a resume. Updating your resume should be an ongoing task. Even if you’re just making a small change each month, this can create a new habit that forces you to think about your career trajectory regularly.