When Is It Time for a New Resume (vs. Updating an Existing Resume)?

Should I have a new resume or update the old resume?

Remodel, or build new? This isn’t just a question for homeowners. It’s also something to consider in your job search. Should you update your existing resume (remodel) or start over with a new document (build new)?
There are pros and cons to both, and this guide is designed to help you decide whether you should build on the document you already have, or give your resume a fresh start.
Here are some things to consider:
  • Age. If your existing resume is more than five years old, you should rebuild it from scratch. Most “modern” resume formats are easily identifiable. They may include design accents (line, boxes, call-outs) that are still compatible with applicant tracking systems that were not part of older resume formats.
  • Are You Making a Career Change? Are you switching industries instead of just looking to change jobs? Your previous resume format might not position you as effectively for a new field as completely revamping your resume. In addition, you may want to change the presentation of the content in the resume itself — for example, a resume for a teaching role may present the same information significantly different than a resume for a corporate education position.
  • It Might Be Time to “Declutter”It’s common practice for jobseekers to update their resume by simply adding in new roles without considering the “big picture” of the document strategy as a whole. This is especially important for jobseekers with 10-15+ years of experience, as the resume may be approaching a full two pages. Sometimes completely revising the resume provides a better way to organize older experience.
  • You Have More Education. A resume for a new college graduate is significantly different than a resume for someone with 3-5 years of experience in their new field. If your current resume was created as a recent graduate, you’ll want to overhaul it to emphasize experience over education.
  • Format. Sometimes you can look at a resume and just know it’s “old.” That could be due to older fonts used (Times New Roman) or outdated ways of presenting information. In addition, the strategy around how specific sections are used (for example: Summary of Qualifications) has changed over time.
  • Has the Job Target Changed? Particularly for “early career” professionals, you may be pursuing a different career target than the resume was originally designed for. A resume for an entry-level bank teller role is (or should be!) significantly different than a resume for a commercial banker position.
  • Technology Changes. Applicant tracking software technology has improved dramatically. Strategies that were appropriate a few years ago to ensure the ATS software “reads” the resume correctly may be out-of-date now.
  • What to Include/Exclude Has Changed. Omit a full address in favor of city/state/zip. Include the LinkedIn profile URL. Sometimes this kind of information can be easily changed on an existing resume — but sometimes it requires a complete revamp.
While you should update your resume every six months at a minimum, you should consider completely overhauling your resume every few years to ensure it aligns with modern resume standards and your current job/industry target.

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