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If you have been in the same position for a few years or longer, your resume has likely been gathering virtual dust. Whether or not you are actively seeking a new position, it’s crucial to keep your resume updated. You might want to present yourself as an expert, an organization might want to give you an award, you might come up for a promotion at work, or you might lose your job. Updating your resume can reveal the gaps you have in your skill set and experience and help motivate you to move forward in your career.
When you take on the task of refreshing your resume, ask the following four questions to guide you.
What Are the Desired Results?
Asking this question will inspire you to think about your career goals and the things you want to accomplish. You have to do your homework and know what you want before you can incorporate your wants and needs in an updated resume. Some ways you can get at this question to help you answer it include:
Get in Touch with Your Why
You can get a better idea of your desired results by drafting out your Why and seeing how it correlates with your short-term and long-term goals. Think of your Why as the thing or idea which gets you out of bed each morning. It’s the feeling which drives you and puts your life into perspective when you feel overwhelmed. It’s the passion that helps you overcome the obstacles in your life that interfere with your goals. Learn more about your Why by reading our blog on ways to reconnect with your Why.
Identify the Types of Opportunities you Want
Sometimes when people look for a job, they think about broad opportunities. For example, “I want to work in the tech industry,” “I want to get a teaching job,” or “I want to work in a sales position.” These broad ideas are helpful, but to hone in on your desired results, you need to be specific about the kind of opportunities you are seeking. If you are putting out your resume in the education sector, some of the considerations you can think about to help you identify opportunities include:
- Location. Are their specific cities, towns, suburbs, or areas you want to work? How far are you willing to commute to work?
- Schedule. Do you want a typically 9 to 5 work schedule? Do you want to be able to work from home some of the time? Is flexibility in your schedule necessary?
- Pay. You should have a good idea of what you want to make and what the position you are seeking is worth. Try to get these numbers as close as possible.
Roles and Job Functions
As you prepare to update your resume, you need to put some thought into the specific roles and job functions you want. For example, if you want a leadership role, you need to convey that through the language you use in your resume. If you have a junior-level role and you want to break into a leadership role, or you are coming to the education sector from another sector or industry, you must especially be specific about your wants. Take time to think about which organizational roles align with your career goals and tailor your resume to reflect them. Your effort in this area will also attract the right kind of recruiters and employers to your resume. You can get an idea of the right language to use by looking at job descriptions and resumes which are similar to yours. Pay special attention to how roles and career goals align by matching up key terms and objectives.
PRO TIP: Create a Word Cloud so you can easily visualize terms and objectives!
What Is the Most Relevant Experience You Have?
Refreshing your resume means you want to showcase the experiences and skills that highlight your capability to perform well in the job you truly desire. Evaluate these considerations to help you determine your most relevant experience:
- Does your resume demonstrate that you align with the skills, experience, and values the company wants in an employee?
- Does the job description and role align with the skills, experience, and values you want in an employer?
Resumes are not one-size-fits-all. When you find a position you want, you have to tailor it to the company for which you are applying. One of the best ways you can do this is by matching objectives and keywords to update your resume, so it mirrors the things the company is looking for in an employee. Don’t make things up for the sake of matching because the truth will come out in an interview or work sample. Instead, take the things which you have in common in terms of skills, experience, and values and use the same or similar language for description.
If you’re struggling with revising your resume to demonstrate your transferable skills and experience, get a career coach to help you out. We offer a wide array of career services to help you review and update your resume and prepare for interviews.
What Is the Most Recent Experience You Have?
Updating your resume means you want to highlight your most recent experience because your potential employer will want to see what you’ve done in the last ten years. Anything more than the past ten years isn’t considered recent. You likely know you need to use action words to describe your professional experience. Still, you should try to showcase the following things with each position you held as you describe your role in the organization:
- Contribution. Resumes that haven’t been well-crafted depict a job candidate as someone who shows up to work, and doesn’t do much to contribute to their organization. Highlight your contributions, so potential employers can see how you can contribute.
- Impact. Use your experience to show how you impacted your organization. Did you help reduce costs? Did you train others? Did you promote things or ideas which improved organizational culture?
- Growth & Development. Hone in on the growth and development you gained from each role in your professional experience. You can highlight the existing skills which you developed and the new skills you learned. Explain how growing and developing specific skillsets deepened or broadened your experience with an organization.
- Achievements. All potential employers love to see resumes from high achievers, especially when achievements are portrayed realistically and not exaggerated. Include how your experience and skills helped you to meet or surpass the goals of your employer, how they enhanced the organization, and how they helped you to meet or surpass your career goals.
Here are some additional guidelines for showcasing your experience on your resume:
- Keep in mind that you are updating your resume, not a CV (curriculum vitae), which takes a deep dive into your professional experience. CVs include speaking engagements and publications, which are things you don’t need on your resume.
- If you experienced a gap in your employment, were there things you did during that time that enhanced your skills or qualified as transferable experience? Consider including volunteer roles and educational courses. You can even share travel experience in lieu of formal employment!
- If you are struggling with articulating this season of your career journey, talk with a career coach who can guide you.
- Offer employers more detailed information about your professional contributions by redirecting them to your LinkedIn profile, but only if it is updated. LinkedIn is a valuable tool for job candidates and recruiters alike. You can learn more about strategies to help recruiters find you on LinkedIn in our blog and ask any questions you might have at one of our live Ask-a-Recruiter Webinar events.
PRO TIP: Use this LinkedIn Hack to create a quick CV for your employer without having to create one from scratch. Download your LinkedIn profile as a PDF and submit!
What Has Been Your Most Rewarding Experience?
Employers and recruiters want to see a list of your accomplishments that demonstrate your contributions to your team and your organization. To some extent, you will share this when listing your experience, but when you focus on this area, you need to provide verifiable evidence. You should try to offer quantifiable accomplishments when at all possible when writing your resume accomplishments. This means including hard numbers and percentages you can share with potential employers. Some examples include:
- Amount of money you saved for an organization
- Amount of budget you were responsible for
- The time it took you to accomplish a specific goal
- Percentage of time you met or exceeded specific goals
- Number of people you managed
Always try to include as much context as possible when relaying information about your accomplishments. Sure, employers like to see you saved an organization money. Yet, when you can also add the amount you saved was 50 percent of the operating budget and that you did that each year you were with the organization, you make yourself shine.
You have to be careful that your resume isn’t too long. Keeping it to two pages is in your best interest. This means you need to pick and choose accomplishments and convey them in the most succinct way possible. Consider the following questions to help you choose the best items to include in your resume:
What has been the most rewarding for:
- Your team? Include any contributions you made that moved the needle in the key areas of impact.
- Your organization? Include the impact you made on the organization that aligned with their key objectives.
- Yourself? Include experiences and skills you learned along the way, which contributed to your development and made you a better professional.
How will your accomplishments benefit a potential employer?
Demonstrate your benefit to an employer by showing your accomplishments coincide with their objectives and desired results. You also want to showcase any accomplishments that align with the skills the employer wants to execute the functions of the job.
If you cannot find ways your accomplishments benefit a potential employer or feel you don’t have any, you need to come up with your most impressive experience. Even better, you can work with a career coach to learn how to effectively articulate your accomplishments on a resume and in a job interview.
Knowing the right questions to consider and best practices for refreshing your resume make it an easy task to take on. Don’t let your resume sit for too long because you never know when you might need a fresh copy. With a strong resume, you will be ready for any career advancement opportunities that come your way!