When it comes to hiring practices and career development, a resume is still one of the most important tools used equally by both RECRUITERS and JOBSEEKERS.
You may be in need of guidance around updating your resume and wondering about a resume update or resume rewrite. You may feel a bit rusty if you’re just getting back into the job search scene after spending years or even decades at the same place of employment. Or you could be someone who is returning to the workforce after a long-term stint as being a stay-at-home mom. You wonder how the career landscape has changed. Should you dust off your old copy of your resume? Or is it better to start from scratch? Below find some great ideas for how to approach updating your resume to get on the fast track to making that strategic career move that’s right for you. For more resume writing tips and samples, please be sure to visit
STEP 1: Ask Yourself the Right Questions
What is my vision of the ideal career for me? Before you do anything, it’s worth giving some thought to the type of work you’re looking for. The internet age brings many more options and directions to go in, as well as increasing competition. So ask yourself: what is my ultimate career goal?
You might start by visualizing the ideal work scenario for you. Do you hope to work for a progressive company that offers flex-time and work-from-home options? Is a part-time gig what you want? The best way to get what you’re hoping for in your new career is to put it out there and see if there’s a match.
The internet brings many more work opportunities that simply were not accessible in decades past because we didn’t have a way to connect or to work remotely. So if you have a career dream, don’t be afraid to get specific in describing it on your resume and cover letter. You can always decide later how much of a concession you’re willing to make based on other factors like salary, location, or an opportunity to break into a new field.
Am I ready for a leadership position? Are you looking to advance into a leadership role? Perhaps you have acquired many years of experience in your field of expertise. This could be the perfect time to translate those lessons learned into a promotion with the paycheck to match.
One good question to ask: am I already functioning as a leader at my job? Often in a corporate environment, upper management begins to lean on more seasoned employees to carry out some fairly impressive responsibilities and thus drive production. If the person who is unofficially “in charge” of a team or department does not speak up for that pay increase, chances are there won’t be a big incentive for upper management to move them forward.
A good leader knows when it’s time to advocate for oneself. So begin by typing out a list of leader-type responsibilities that you’ve been entrusted with at your workplace. Are you in charge of scheduling, team building, and project management? Do underlings report to you? Have you spent a fair amount of your work experience training new employees? If so, then this list of accomplishments should fit nicely into its section of your resume. If you label it as “Leadership Roles” then bullet out the points, you’ll be giving your potential employer an easy way to zone right in on your capabilities as a manager or director of a team.
Of course, you may not feel ready to serve in a managerial capacity, and if that’s the case, then you’ll want to structure your resume accordingly. Instead of highlighting a “Leadership” area, you might instead bullet out a list of your career skills and strengths. Hiring managers want to get right to the meat, to see if the skills you offer will be a good fit for the role they’re looking to fill. Some common questions to ask yourself in this case include:
What am I good at? Maybe you’re someone who works cooperatively on a team. Perhaps analytical thinking is your strong suit. You might work best independently, or you could be a rapid producer. If you have trouble coming up with ways that you excel in your work, then do this. Imagine that you are your own boss. How would your supervisor be likely to list your strengths? Some of your career strengths could be:
Excellent attention to detail
Works well under pressure
Organized and efficient
There are many more possibilities if you’re looking to bullet out your strong points to get the attention of a hiring manager. If you’re still having trouble, head to Google and type in “resume samples” to get an immediate return of any number of resumes that can help you come up with a fresh description of you and what you do.
Does your experience translate to the digital world? If you’re looking to compete in the current career market, then don’t forget to count your proficiency with the latest apps and gadgets. You might be one of the many small business owners who have taken on the role of online marketing manager for your company, or your family business. Don’t be shy about including this on your resume, and don’t take your skills for granted.
Sometimes it helps to talk with a friend or colleague who can ask the right questions that remind you of your unique skills. Maybe you manage an email newsletter online. Perhaps social media promotional campaigns and digital marketing has become something you’re good at, thanks to your real-world experience.
Even if you’ve been out of the “career world,” you should know that online skills are in high demand due to the nature of the online market. Many companies may be struggling to catch up in developing a website presence. Your skills that you learned by way of the “school of hard knocks” could just land you that new position you’ve been dreaming about along with the salary and benefits package you’ve been hoping for.
STEP 2: Self-Branding and Marketing
If you think about it, your resume is just an advertising tool designed to get you noticed by the right hiring manager or a business owner. So now that you’ve given a run-through to the more important questions like your vision of the perfect career and what your strengths and skills are; let’s talk about how to retool your resume to attract the right people who already want what you have in the way of career background and proficiency. Begin with awareness of your future employer’s time or lack of. The longer it takes for the hiring manager to figure out what you’re good at and whether you’re a right fit for the position, the less likely they will be to contact you for an interview. So get into the skimming frame of mind. Imagine that you are the person sorting through the pile of applicants. What types of things will help your resume stand out and offer easily-absorbed information: Concise headings In marketing, the headline does the heavy lifting to attract readers who will then want to know more. So use the available space to include headlines that speak directly to your future employer. Keep it to one page. A resume that’s more than one page is more likely to be lost in the shuffle of a busy work day. So be brief, and try to keep things to a single page. You will have a chance to explain yourself in detail during the interview process. For now, choose the words that they want to hear most. Short paragraphs. There may be a temptation to include lots of detail on your resume, especially if you've acquired a lot of experience and years in your field. Brief, bulleted points If at all possible, bullet out your ideas on one line apiece. So, if you’re conveying a series of steps that you completed for a long-term project, then be sure to go back and shorten the text to be as succinct as possible. It may help to consider a resume and cover letter checklist. Give your resume a spin Generic is boring, and these days you’re competing with the entire world. So don’t be afraid to be bold with your resume. Learn how to make your resume stand out. Think about the type of career that would get you excited to wake up to a new day on the job. Do you hope to work for a more progressive company? Then how about tucking in a phrase like “Forward-thinking” in your career objective. Values are also important nowadays. If you have specific beliefs such as equality, being kind to the planet, supporting working families, wellness in the workplace environment, or any other type of currently trending words that will pique interest, include these as part of your objective or as one of your strengths. If you have a lot of room on your resume or perhaps on your cover letter, you might even offer a brief “ideal career wish list” that could get hiring heads turning in your direction. But if this is too radical for you, that’s okay too.
When it comes to personal brandingand self promotion, alwyas keep in mind that your approach to landing the ideal job will depend on whether the type of worker and person you are is a match for the company that will hire you.
STEP 3: Outline Your Career History
The approach that you take in the “career history” section of your resume will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re a person who just wants “a job” and to get back into the workforce, then you may not have a strong vision of what you’ll be doing and that’s okay. If that’s the case for you, it may work best if you take a more generic approach and include as many details as you can in your Career History. Then, as opportunities present themselves or your career vision becomes clearer, you can update your resume as needed. Or, you may just decide to emphasize that you’ve had a varied career experience over the years. This could be the exact type of flexible employee that someone out there is looking for. It’s also perfectly acceptable to have multiple resumes for multiple purposes. You might decide, for example, if you’re looking for either a Real Estate Sales role OR a Catering Chef, that these are two decidedly different career choices, each in need of its own resume development. Your career history can be different for each of these resumes. Simply select the one that applies, as any job opportunities make themselves known. Take a few minutes to run through companies, locations, and dates. In the Career History section, you’re generally expected to make a list of the company, city, state, and dates that you were employed at said location. If you don’t know the exact dates, or if you’re someone who has had many years of experience in the workforce and is now emphasizing leadership capabilities, then you may not need to flesh out the exact months that you worked for one employer or another. The important part is to give the person reviewing your resume a general idea of your career path and the impact of your leadership. Q: What if you owned your own business but are looking to return to working for someone else? More and more people are trying their hand at a remote career, owning a small business, or working part-time for multiple places of business. You may have been off the radar for a while due to a situation like this. So you might be wondering what to put on your resume in this case. The short answer to this is that if your personal experience or your role as a small business owner wearing many hats has gifted you skills that make you an asset to a corporate or small company’s work environment, then by all means organize this information in a way that presents you in a rightfully positive light. If you have trouble with this, just imagine that you are your own boss. What marketable skills would you describe yourself as having? Indeed, being in the trenches of small business or online business ownership may have bestowed you with some incredibly sought-after strengths that now translate well into other environments or businesses.
STEP 4: Are You Digitally Proficient?
Now more than ever, hiring managers want to hire people who are comfortable using the latest technology, including operating systems, software, apps, and tools that the majority of users are proficient and comfortable with. So, to assess your digital communication skills, think about all of the tech knowledge you have acquired, both in your job and in your endeavors. It could be customer account management, document creation, photo/video editing, email list management, or any other number of programs. This is a very important differentiator between you and your competition in the job marketplace. Digital proficiency even could mean a jump in salary for you. Even if you feel like your knowledge is basic, that still could put you ahead of another contender. So DO spend some time running through your tech proficiency and listing everything.
STEP 5: Organize the Details of Your Resume
Okay; you’ve done your career outlining homework. You should now have a clear picture of the type of job you want, the role within an organization that you hope to play, the type of company that would perfectly match your ideals, values, and goals, your strengths and proficiencies, and your career history. You’re ready to craft your resume and condense all of this information to one page, if possible. Choose a design It will be beneficial to browse through resume samples. The style and size of your fonts, and the placement of text, will depend on the industry you’re looking to get a job in. A Real Estate Agent’s resume might have a different look and feel than a nurse resume example. Type out your sections Now that everything is coming together, you’ll need a template to work in. You can either search for a plug-and-play resume template online, or you can type out everything in a list format to be styled later. Typical (but always optional) sections of your resume may include:
HEADER – name, title, address, contact info such as email/phone, URL if you have a blog or website
QUALIFICATIONS LIST (including your Technical Skills)
The order of topics listed above can vary depending on where you are in your career. For example, a receny graduate is more likely to list his/her Education before Career History.
Now that your resume is fleshed out, your next step might be to run it by a trusted colleague or friend who can give you their honest assessment of the information. Ask them their opinion on the following:
Is it eye-catching?
Is the information easy to read and understand?
Will this impress someone in your chosen field?
What is the overall impression of your competence?
Did they spot any errors or inconsistencies?
After the review of your resume, you can update the information as suggested, if you like. You can also search for similar resumes of people in your field, to make a comparison.
Give your resume a final once-over, paying special attention to little things like misspellings, capitalizations, consistent use of punctuation, and special type treatments, such as bold or italic text.
When you’re happy with how your resume looks and reads, print it out and go over it again. Have another person proofread. Be sure that your contact information is correct!
When you’re happy with the final outcome, you’re all set. Now it’s time to show off your career proficiency to the world, and land that job you’ve been dreaming of.
Mandy Fard is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW,CMRW) and Recruiter with decades of experience in assisting job seekers, working directly with employers in multiple industries, and writing proven-effective resumes.