Has Your Resume Passed Its 'Sell-By' Date?


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Savvy job seekers know that it's important to freshen-up their resume frequently to suit the needs of different jobs. Even if the outline of a resume stays the same, data needs to be regularly updated to take account of recent career progress.

Upgrading a resume means more than simply adding the latest job or promotion to a list under the heading of ‘work experience’. If your resume's been gathering mothballs, here are seven ways you can give it a new lease of life:

  1. Get specific. Tailor your resume to the specific job or field that you are applying for. If this means that you have to maintain more that one version of your resume, so be it! These days, it's a breeze to file customized versions on your computer. Write a tightly focussed objective statement and use it as a basis to build your targeted resume.
  2. Show the value you've added. Assess the unique contributions you have made in your recent work and show how they have helped the development of the company. Don't make yourself out to be a drone by simply reciting a boring list of the jobs you've done. It's much better to impress your reader by showing how you have increased turnover, met challenges or spearheaded initiatives.
  3. Energize your vocabulary. Communicate the importance of your achievements in vigorous language. Lots of people find it difficult to say good things about themselves, so you may need to practice and redraft this several times! Don't ‘hide your light under a bushel’ - emphasize the accomplishments that will justify a decision to employ you.
  4. Re-think your format. While recruiters often like to see your history in a chronological layout, this may not highlight your strengths to best advantage. If you've taken a break in your work or are changing careers, don't feel compelled to organize your resume by date. A functional resume or ‘combination’ format can allow you to put the spotlight on your transferable skills, while still including essential information about past employment.
  5. Cut to the chase. Confine yourself to material that's relevant to the position you want and that sells your strongest skills. When you're writing your first resume straight out of school or college, including information about sports, activities and interests may be justified to show qualities of leadership and participation. But subsequent career accomplishments will most likely be more telling - so get to the point!
  6. Get scanner-friendly. Many companies use scanning software to help them deal with the initial screening of bulk applications. Don't be filtered out because you left out industry-related terms or used fancy fonts that the software couldn't decipher. Research the most important keywords to put in your resume and choose a presentation format that's easy for a scanner to read and which also appeals to the human eye.
  7. Attract your reader in the cover letter. Don't send out an impersonal letter that makes your application look like part of a mass-mailing exercise. Make a powerful first impression by addressing the recipient by name and indicating why you fit the job well.

Nigel Patterson is a business writer and publisher of http://1stClassResume.com

Visit his website for more tips on resume writing , ideas for cover letters, and preparing for a job interview.


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