A few months ago, I had an awkward moment.
I had spent hours crafting a zazzy, playful, and most importantly, CURRENT resumé. There were color blocks. There were fonts. There was a “Skills” box. I sent my glistening new creation to a trusted friend for feedback, and on the other end of the email, I got…crickets.
She didn’t want to be harsh, but…maybe colors and fonts and boxes weren’t portraying me as professional? There was a time and a place for quirky phrasing, but maybe this wasn’t it. But you know, it’s pretty.
Ugh! Huff! Puff! She was on SUCH a different page. This is what resumés LOOK like now, I tried to tell her.
My approach to the resumé had become OUTDATED,
and I was wildly misinterpreting the new trends.
I left college less than 5 years ago, but I was already displaying dinosaur-like tendencies. Things change FAST these days, and my two-page behemoth wasn’t cutting it. Listing Microsoft Office as a skillset? Not cool anymore. And sure, resumés have changed since I took “Intro to Professional Writing” as a freshman, but my sunny, graphic take on the new resumé had missed the mark.
Luckily, updating my resumé for 2014 didn’t have to be that hard. I didn’t need wild font choices, and I didn’t need to “revolutionize” the resumé format with visuals. I was overthinking it.
Learn from my mistakes.
Try these simple tricks to give your resumé a facelift.
I’m easing you in here. Sure, being succinct was always important on resumés. These days, potential employers still want to be able to skim your resumé for the important stuff. So ditch the filler and keep it to one page.
Try cutting the “statement” at the beginning. Instead of talking about your objectives, give a brief “so what” statement about who you are and what makes you right for the job. Or, ditch that paragraph entirely and use up that space to show your accomplishments, saving the explanations for the cover letter.
Update your resumé to cover only the last 10-15 years. You may have been class president in high school, but that’s not as important as the presentation you gave last week.
Uh oh, the last 10-15 years have a few (explainable, but complicated) bumps? Try ditching the months in your job history section. Instead, list full years: 2005 – 2008 instead of May 2005 – June 2008.
Go ahead and move that “Education” down a click. After a few years of work, your recent experience is more relevant than your major or your GPA, and you want your work to be the first thing potential employers see.
5. Cut the GPAs.
Unless you’re a recent grad, GPAs aren’t applicable to most job search settings. Instead of using space to highlight your school accomplishments, focus on what you’ve done since then. If you did astoundingly well in school, use terms instead of numbers, like “summa cum laude” or “with Honors.”
Good news. Look, times have changed since we wrote our first resumés, but words still trump pictures in the world of job searches. Images take up space that you need for talking about your skills and qualifications, and who knows how they would print out or appear on the recruiter’s screen?
If you’ve been out of college for a couple years (as we’ll assume you have, since you’re worried about being outdated), there’s no need to add your graduation year. It allows potential employers to date you (and judge you based on your age) before they’ve gotten an unbiased sense of your experience and qualifications.
There has been a shift. Instead of calling yourself names, try talking about what you do. So instead of being a “creator,” you “created” something. Here’s some up-to-date verbage to mix in:
Achieved, Improved, Trained/Mentored, Managed, Created, Influenced, Increased/Decreased, Negotiated, Launched, Under budget
Go-getter, Think outside of the box, Synergy, Go-to person, Results-driven, Team player, Hard worker, Strategic thinker, Detail-oriented
The people reading your resumé know. They don’t think you’ll refuse to provide references. They’re not sitting there going Phew! They HAVE references, they’re just not HERE.
It sounds pretentious, and that line takes up valuable real estate.
11. Update your tech skills.
These days, employers expect proficiency in word processing, typing, and Internet use. Listing outdated skillsets can give an employer the impression that you’re not up to speed.
Since employers will likely be scanning your resumé, format your words to pop out at the reader. Instead of big blocks of text, use 4-7 bullet points to describe each section of work experience.
In the spirit of providing a lot of information in a short amount of time, try adding percentages to your resumé. “Increased conversion rates by 15%” sounds a whole lot more impressive and memorable than “Improved conversion rates.” You don’t have to be exact, but make sure you’re telling the truth!
Go back to those numbers and change them to numerals. “30% traffic increase” pops out on the page more than “Thirty percent traffic increase.” Plus, using numerals saves space.
Sounds scarier than it is. Instead of using an outdated header, create a custom personal logo to use across your documents and instantly bring your resumé into 2014. Here’s a great example from The Muse.
Want to really up the ante? Dive into HTML & CSS and add tech skills to your resumé. Any of this tech stuff giving you sweaty palms? Come learn in a supportive, positive environment in one of our upcoming Skillcrush Career Blueprints, where beginners from all backgrounds are welcome! Classes start Thursday, August 4.
Sourced from The Muse:
7 Things to Remove from Your Resumé ASAP
45 Things You Might Have on Your Resumé That Need to be Removed
45 Quick Changes That Help Your Resumé Get Noticed
10 Words Recruiters Hate Seeing on Your Resumé and 10 They Love