You’ve cleaned your closet and donated those old clothes to the Salvation Army, moved furniture around to find about $10 hiding in the corner, and dusted every bunny with a vengeance. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to stop there. There’s still time to dust off that old resume and polish up the edges. Here are three hidden gems to get your resume shining again.
Resumes are no different from that closet jammed with last year’s lineup. There may be a few hidden surprises, after all, just as dust seems to gather under your couch, dust accumulates on your document. Not to worry, editing those two pages – hopefully there’s no more – is not as hard as your previous chores. But it’s a lot more rewarding. So grab a highlighter and red pen and jump to it with this resume help.
Step 1: Get rid of last year’s junk
Nothing says stale resume like twenty year old experience. If your resume reads like a fairytale – think “Once Upon a Time in a Distant Kingdom…” – it’s time to move on. No one is really interested in your internships or entry-level positions, unless you’re still starting out fresh. Resume tip: everything old and outdated must go. Here are a few sections to pay close attention to:
- Technical Proficiencies
- Experience and Internships
- College Awards, Scholarships and Memberships
- Old Licenses
- Outdated Skills
Start at the bottom of your experience list, assuming it’s in chronological order from most recent to least recent, and cross out all jobs and experiences more than 15 years old. This includes large and small positions. If you feel the job is important, highlight it, and we will come back to these important events.
Next, look over your certifications, professional development and technical skills. Delete all software, training and development that’s no longer in use. For example, if you have experience with all versions of Word, delete all but the last two versions. They are still in use. The exception to this rule is Windows XP. Many businesses didn’t upgrade to Vista, 7 or 8. They still used the solid XP version. This is still a relevant skill.
In other words, examine all of the content on your resume and make sure that every piece of information you’ve chosen to include demonstrates your current and most relevant values. Old information is detrimental to your career path. It screams you are lazy and not willing to advance yourself or the company, so be sure to take this resume help into consideration.
Step 2: Look for those hidden gems
Let’s look at the experience you highlighted in the first step. If you think there are older experiences still valuable to your career, it is best to highlight these as a standalone notable contribution. If the position itself is important, list it as additional experience. Listing additional experience is simple. Delete all job descriptions, dates, locations and identifiers. Leave only the company name and title. Here is a simple formatted example for listing these positions:
Additional Experience: JP Morgan Chase, Operations Manager; Wachovia Bank, Client Access Manager; Bank of America, Collections & Asset Protection Manager; Bank of America, Branch Manager
Next, look at your job descriptions. We can list these as either notable contributions or key skills assessment. Choose ten of your descriptions that had direct, quantifiable results on the business’s key areas (i.e. client retention, marketing initiatives, revenue, workforce reduction, etc.). Pull up the numbers for these results and rewrite them into achieving statements. For example, “Served on the Executive Budget Committee for two years” is easily translated into “Reduced re-work by 27% and cut expenses by $435,000 annually by…”
Step 3: The dust has settled, what’s missing?
Look at your current job or last position and see what skills, job description and professional development you’ve added to your portfolio. Did you include it in your resume? Are your most important skills and areas of expertise up to date with current keywords? These are items hiring managers look for in new applicants.
Next think about the job you want. What are the requirements? Research keywords and skills. Look for training and development matching your own. Does your old experience match these conditions? You may be surprised to find you have the skills necessary for that promotion or new job.
Preparation Goes a Long Way
Spring cleaning is easier when you do monthly maintenance work around the house. Many people clean their filters, move furniture and clean out closets more frequently. The same is true with resumes. Don’t wait until you start looking for a job. Sometimes you may not have time to freshen up the resume before a job opportunity comes knocking. Every three months, look over your resume and take steps to keep it fresh. Schedule times in your calendar to remind you to take on the task.