It’s that time of year again – the weather changes to brighter, warmer days; we freshen up our homes, maybe clean out the attic or have a yard sale. Given that 2020 was a year like never before with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are looking forward to a new 2021 spring, where we are inching towards new horizons, with lifting restrictions and a better handle on keeping ourselves healthy and safe.
As the new season emerges, it might also be time to dust off the old resume and spruce it up a bit in light of what you have learned the past year. Perhaps you learned that you want to try something different- a new career choice, a new place to live, a new work lifestyle. Or maybe the change to a remote work lifestyle is something you want to continue – or get as far away from as possible. The point is, there is an abundance of opportunity at our fingertips and you can fine-tune your paper credentials to help you go after what you want.
Here are some tips to get you started on spring cleaning your resume:
Refresh your Resume Format
Give your resume a modern spin, but be careful to follow professional guidelines and keep it easy to read and organized. There are many resume writing websites and free templates to follow out there on the inter-web. Explore and see if there is something that catches your eye.
Remember, however, resumes are still scanned by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to find best matches to the keywords assigned to a specific job. This is particularly important when we are faced with a large talent pool with a high number of applications to one position. We can presume that a human is not sifting through the first 300 resumes that come in; an ATS is scanning, collecting and organizing resume data in order to provide the best matches for the next step in the review process.
With that said, ATS’s have grown in sophistication in how they manage resume content. If your skill-set is transferrable and applicable to a job description, the keywords should just flow and you can be mindful of making sure the “key” keywords are accounted for. However, don’t get tangled up in the formatting aspect. Read up on how ATS’s scan documents (for instance, many won’t recognize content formatted within a header or footer, or improperly used columns).
Take an Inventory of What You’ve Done
The general consensus on resume inclusions is to list the most recent experience, but also the most relevant experience to the position you are applying for. The new number is to leave off anything before 2006, because 15 years of relevant experience sounds about right (unless it was something so completely impressive that it warrants a mention.) For some industries, though, it might be 5-10 years of work history. In the IT world, for example, your in-depth understanding of an obsolete program or language from 10 years ago might not warrant full copy-block space on your resume (unless of course you invented them!)
Tailor Your Skill-set to Your Audience
Resumes might no longer be one-size-fits-all for every position. Naturally, you need to include your fundamental skill-sets and primary career experience as a base foundation for your resume calling card. However, consider “mixing-and-matching” the content elements that take top billing to align with what will market you better for a certain role.
Have a “cut-and-paste” version of your resume. This allows you to have readily available blocks of bullets and copy to plug into a resume in order to highlight certain skill-sets that match job posting descriptions.
Refine the Details
Fine-tune your resume and consider omitting some information that takes up space.
- Addresses – your home address is not necessary and might not even be valid for remote positions. Or, you may want to specify a region so that employers know you are flexible.
- Company addresses like city and state are not always relevant; and hiring managers can always search for a company if they are curious about what they do and where they are.
- List your education credentials at the end, and particularly for technical positions, any certifications you may have that are relevant to the industry and position.
- For recent grads, you could include awards and special designations that you achieved while in school, but it’s not necessarily to provide a laundry list of courses you took.
- GPA for a recent grad may be OK, but if you have been out of school for a while and have a long work history, it might not be necessary.
As you create your self-marketing content, keep asking yourself, how did I make a difference in my past role? Or, what did I contribute? Hiring managers want to know how you applied your skills in your position, not just the fact that you have them.
For instance, if you are applying for a social media manager position, it’s understood that you know how to create posts for Twitter. But, sharing how you reimagined your target social audience, redefined messaging and created an influencer list that increased followings and improved engagement by 50% year-over-year shows your skill-set in action.
- Note: depending on your field, don’t be afraid to be unique in how you present yourself. Including links to a personalized website, a video podcast introducing yourself or a highly-stylized portfolio presentation can set you apart from the talent in your industry.
Perform any web search and you will find countless tips and schools of thought on how to draft an effective resume to help get your foot in the door. Being honest, genuine and professional can come across in your writing and will go a long way to landing your next great opportunity. And remember – NO TYPOS! As far as a one-page standard resume or creeping onto a second page? We don’t have a right or wrong answer yet. In today’s job application market, it sometimes doesn’t matter anymore depending on the digital submission process. In the grand scheme of all resume things, however, be sure that any two-pager you submit showcases only content that is relevant, interesting, on-point to the role, and with a type-size that is easy on the eyes.
Our recruiting and staffing experts at Matlen Silver have seen thousands of resumes and we can often remember ones that really struck a chord (for good or bad!) Get in touch with us and let us give you some pointers on how to craft your resume into a personal marketing masterpiece.