Eventually most job opportunities will require you to sum up your education, job experience, skills and objective in one handy document: your resume. Has it been a while since you’ve refreshed that all important sheet? Is it feeling a little sad, dated, boring? Here’s a quick checklist of update tips to give a relatively uneventful job history some much-needed updating.
1. Check Your Sections
A standard resume may include the following: contact information (at minimum your name, email address, and phone number), objective, employment history/experience, education, skills, awards, achievements, memberships/extracurricular involvement. You may not need, or be able to use, all of these. Are there any on your resume now that aren’t relevant to your job trajectory? Are there any you can add to strengthen what you have? Have you taken any classes that should be recognized? Is your objective generic or out of date? (More on that later!)
This may sound simple, but it’s worth mentioning. Your resume should be styled (fonts, sizes, etc.) optimally to make it easy to read. Make sure your name is the strongest thing on the page. Make sure each section title has the same font and size treatment. Put the sections in a logical order of importance. If the document is easy for the hiring manager to read, and they’ll have a better impression of you before they even start reading.
Speaking of a logical order of importance, there are a few ways you can structure your experience. If you have years of continuous job experience in your field, a chronological resume is probably the way to go: listing your experience in order from most recent first and working your way back. If you have gaps in your experience, or not much experience in exactly the field you’re applying for, a functionally organized resume is a better bet: include the most relevant experience first, making sure to highlight the relevant pieces of each position. There aren’t hard and fast rules here. Structure your resume to make sure it gives the most convincing representation of your fit for the job up front.
There are some very cool resume building applications out there these days, but if you aren’t a designer by trade, don’t try to DIY an interactive resume. Stick to the basics: simple fonts (no more than two) and simple colors (keep it to black with one accent color if necessary). Try using a resume template found online or within your word processing program. The template may be simple, but it’s your information that’s supposed to shine here – not the design.
This is a one or two line section, usually at the top of your resume, which many people choose to leave out. Why? Because it works best if you can customize it for each job or industry to which you’re submitting a resume. Use this to your advantage! Write a targeted one or two line objective about how you want to succeed in the industry of your choosing. Having a targeted objective helps the resume feel more personal to the reader, and might give your resume that extra sparkle it needs to stand out in the crowd!