If it’s been a while since you searched for a new job, you might be wondering how to update your resume in the fastest and most efficient way. And you might even be feeling a little intimidated by the task!
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be difficult.
In fact, if you follow just a few simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to getting your resume done in no time!
Let me encourage you first that writing or updating your resume is not rocket science. While some things have changed over the years (like the need to incorporate keywords), most things have stayed the same.
And there are a few tips and tricks I’m going to share with you that will make your resume stand out from the rest.
The first and most difficult part of resume writing is getting together all of your history.
I suggest doing this all at once, on a few pieces of paper or, even better, digitally in a document you can save for future reference.
You’re going to want to compile your work history, including company names, locations, job titles, and dates of employment (month and year). For each job, be sure to include what you did for the company and list any achievements you can think of.
You’ll also want to gather your education information and any additional schooling you’ve received.
Finally, put together a list of qualities and skills you’ve put to use in jobs you’ve had in the past, especially ones you think will continue to serve you in the future. Include any awards you’ve won, or accolades you’ve received from managers, customers, or co-workers.
You’ll go back later to curate this information (and create bullet points that will make you stand out like a rock star!), but for now, the important thing is to get all of the information together in one place.
Next, you’re going to research the job you’re applying for, reading through the job description to look for the qualities and qualifications that your new employer is looking for.
You’re also going to look for keywords, which are almost always in the job description itself. Think of a keyword as a search term — a high level word or phrase that your future employer is searching for. Since they are looking for these in a candidate, they’ll expect to see them in a resume.
I recommend searching for additional job posting at similar companies, so you can review the qualities and keywords they are using too. This can help make your resume stronger because you’ll be more informed about how other companies see the same position.
Once you’ve compiled these two types of information — your history and the information in the job postings, you’ll be ready to sit down and write your resume!
The best way to start your resume is by using a resume template in whichever word processing software you prefer — Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or Apple Pages.
You’ll set up your resume as a single column, with black type only (who knows if the hiring manager even likes green?).
Here are the sections you’ll include in your resume:
At the top, centered (and without a title)
These four sections of your resume are titled and left-justified:
Don’t worry about including a Reference section, and you don’t need to say “References available upon request” either. It’s a given and takes up valuable real estate. (But do take the time to compile a list of references to have on hand, and be sure to connect with those references to let them know you plan to use them.)
For a sample resume, you can peek at page 24 of my Resume by Midnight!™ guide.
The ultimate goal of your resume is to get the interview, so you want your accomplishments to be intriguing enough that the recruiter wants to learn more.
Here are a few ways you can set yourself apart from the dozens (or possible hundreds) of resumes submitted by other candidates:
Here are 3 of the most frequently asked questions I get asked about resumes, along with the answers I recommend for most professions.
Question: How long should my resume be?
Answer: I believe everyone can fit their most important information into a one-page resume. In fact, writing a one-page resume is a good exercise in culling your information down to only the most relevant and important bullet points.
However, if you’ve had 10 or more years of experience in your field or are applying for a high level position, most recruiters consider a two-page resume acceptable (and even desirable).
Question: Should I use multiple columns or color in my resume?
Answer: Generally speaking, no.
A single-column resume with black ink only looks the most professional. There is less chance of scanning software misreading multiple columns or fancy formatting. And who knows if your recruiter has some sort of bias against the color green?
You want the content to be what sets you apart, so focus your time and efforts there.
Question: Should I outsource to a resume-writing company?
Answer: I’m a firm believer that everyone can and should write their own resume.
Writing your own resume is the best way to create consistency between resume and interview. Plus, the extra time you spend writing about your accomplishments and achievements will boost your confidence and give you practice communicating about them before your interview.
If this information was helpful to you, there’s more where this came from! My 50-page Resume by Midnight!™ guide is a ready to help you compile your history, research job postings, and write your resume — all before you shut your computer tonight!
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