I’ve written before about how to update your LinkedIn profile. Similarly, your resume needs a regular update. Even if your resume lists your current job, it probably doesn’t mention your most recent projects. If it’s been a while since you’ve looked for a job, chances are your layout and aesthetics are out of date. And even if you’re not actively looking for a job, it’s good to update your resume regularly as an audit of your career progress to date.
So here are 9 resume updates your should consider before you go looking for a new job. Better yet, do them now in case you come across an unexpected opportunity.
Even if you have your latest employer on there, is your job summary still current? After the recent recession, many people took on additional responsibilities, and their current role could be very different from when they joined. Make sure the full scope and range of responsibilities of your job are up to date.
Now that time has elapsed, do you have quantifiable results from your earlier efforts? If you were brought in to launch a product, how did it fare in the market? If you were tasked with streamlining an operating process, can you measure efficiencies gained? The best resumes have clear, measurable results, so you want to capture these when you have them (and while they’re fresh in your mind).
Summary of qualifications
As you update your current role, does it change how you would present yourself overall? At the very least, you probably want to update your summary to reflect your more recent wins. But if your latest role is a promotion or other significant change, you want to make sure that’s highlighted.
As your body of work changes, are you emphasizing the right keywords? For example, I once coached an IT professional who was now leading his IT department, but his resume still listed every platform and programming language—which is something you’d expect to see for an individual contributor, not the head of a group. His relevant keywords should have a technical overview, but more emphasis on management and strategy issues. Make sure your resume is relevant to the role you play now.
Readability on mobile devices
Just as your experience changes, so does the market. Forget the special linen paper for hard copies of your resume. Focus instead of how your resume reads on mobile devices. You can hyperlink your employer names to their websites so that readers can easily get more information as needed. If you wrote an article, hyperlink the title to its online location so that readers can read the full text if needed.
Given the growing prominence of technology in every role, it’s likely that your job—even if you’re in management level—involves technical awareness and competence. If so, make that clear. An experienced marketer, for example, might want to call out the use of Agile methodology in speeding up a product launch. Or a financial analyst might want to highlight her skills in Tableau or other visual software. Don’t assume that your role isn’t technical enough or that you’re too senior to use technical skills as a competitive advantage.
As you add new items, you may need to delete or edit down others. White space—the margins, the space between sections and lines—is very important to readability. And don’t make the classic mistake of making your margins thinner and your font smaller: Recruiters spend just seconds skimming a resume, and if yours is crowded, it’s more likely the recruiter will miss something or just skip it altogether. As a general rule of thumb, focus on the more recent experiences and edit down or eliminate the older ones.
That said, consider leaving in the information you most want to highlight. If you’re a career changer and some of your earliest jobs are the best example of what you’d like to be doing, then you don’t just want to delete those items because they’re old. Be strategic about what you keep and delete.
Finally, your resume only works if an interested employer can get in touch. So make sure to update your contact information. You may have a resume with a recruiting agency or on a job site that has old contact info. (As a recruiter, I have experienced this firsthand as I call a candidate only to get a disconnected number!) You may have updated the resume on your laptop, but have you updated it everywhere else?