It goes without saying that you should keep your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn presence up-to-date. Candidates often find themselves scurrying to update their materials the moment a great opportunity arises – such as a job opening, a board position, or a freelance project.
Resume writing often feels complicated. So, don’t approach it with a “last minute” mindset if you truly want to put your best foot forward. When done right, the process requires time, thought, and effort to ensure you’re communicating an impactful and accurate message around your value and qualifications. Not everyone needs an extensive overhaul; perhaps all you need is a quick resume refresh to bring your latest version up to standard.
Want your resume to stand above the competition? Here are three easy updates you can make in minimal time.
Evaluate the Resume in Terms of Information Design
An excellent resume is a combination of impactful content and polished design. Haven’t had to look for a job in some time? It’s likely you haven’t changed up the formatting or template of your resume. Which means the style you’re using may no longer be appropriate for your experience level.
Consider the design and information flow: is there too much emphasis on earlier jobs and not enough real estate dedicated to your most recent accomplishments? Does your resume look outdated? Ditch solid page borders and black and white for a subtle pop of color. You’ll achieve a more sophisticated and modern look.
A well-designed resume that’s sleek, attractive, and not over-the-top suggests that you’re a serious candidate. It is also an indication of someone who put solid time and effort into their professional presentation. Don’t overlook the importance of that when presenting yourself to hiring managers.
Utilize the Summary Statement
The summary statement (which many people make the mistake of omitting in their resume) is perhaps the most valuable real estate on the page. Outside of your job titles, it’s the first piece of information someone will read about you when scanning your resume. Also, it will set the tone for the rest of the document.
Use those 4 or 5 lines (or bullets) to brand yourself effectively for the type of job you’re targeting. Summarize your core skills, experiences, and training that seem most relevant for the job. You should always brand yourself for the job you’re targeting, versus the role you’re currently in. Use the summary to highlight skills and potential that speak directly to the next level up.
Changing up the summary is an easy way to tailor your resume to each role without completely overhauling it.
Experiment With Type
If your resume has utilized the same font type and size for several years, consider giving it a refresh. Optimize a cleaner, more sophisticated font for screen reading. Strong choices include sans serifs such as Avenir, Helvetica Neue/Light, and Century Gothic. These include different weights so you can draw attention to different sections.
Give the resume refresh an updated look by regrouping the way you present basic elements like titles and company names. Experiment with formatting elements, justification, and line breaks.
Failing to do an occasional resume refresh is akin to leaving money on the table. Don’t lose out on a potential opportunity by not having your resume ready.
Chances are, a few minor changes can go a long way. They can bring your resume and presence up-to-date and positioning you for success.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Brooklyn Resume Studio.
About the Author: Dana Leavy-Detrick founded Aspyre Solutions, focusing on small business development and career consulting. Her mission is to support creative and socially-conscious small businesses. She also offers career transition coaching and business consulting.
Dana has helped hundreds of professionals execute effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about. She has presented seminars on navigating careers, transition and work-life balance to several colleges and universities. Her advice is featured on MSN Careers, Fox Business News, NewsDay, CareerBuilder.com, GlassDoor and About.com. Follow Dana on Twitter!