Friday, November 18, 2011

Keeping Your Resume Fresh

Is your resume up to date? 

Back in 2008, when the economy tanked and unemployment was on the rise, many people lost jobs they had held for a very long time.  They were comfortable in their job, had no plans to leave anytime soon and were shocked when their pink slip was handed to them.  For a lot of people they were completely unprepared.  Economically speaking, we still aren’t out of the woods yet. 

In addition to my full time job, I have two side businesses I run out of my home.  One is as a bookkeeper and the other is my “fun” business as a small graphic arts studio – announcements, wedding invitations, business forms, letterhead, that sort of thing.  And for several years now, resumes. 

When so many were losing their jobs in 2008 and 2009 it was heartbreaking to sit and listen to their upset and fear over this tremendous loss.  It was also hard to hear how unprepared so many of them were for this event in their life.  Almost everyone I worked with during this time was completely without a resume or hadn’t updated one in decades.  I recommend you review and update your resume at least twice a year.  You just never know. 

These are the things you should be thinking about when it comes to your resume: 

·         You need to show at least ten years of consistent work history.
·        Edit out the short-term temporary jobs you held in between longer periods of employment so you don’t appear like a “job hopper”.
·        Keep in clean and concise.  It shouldn’t look cluttered.
·        Keep it to one page.  I know that may seem impossible but employers don’t want to read a book (I know this first hand, I am an employer).
·        Dates of employment – use the years, not the months and days.
·        Show your achievements.  The big ones.
·        Show your education – High school grad date, higher education and/or tech school/training, continuing education.  Make sure you demonstrate you are willing to keep learning.
·        Keep your job descriptions brief.  You don’t need to list everything you ever did.  Highlight the important tasks that an employer would see as truly beneficial to them.
·        Remove the line “References available upon request”.  That is already assumed. 

These are the things you should be updating: 

·       Your address, phone number, email, name – anything that has changed since you looked at it last.
·        Any relevant classes, courses, continuing education you have done.  Edit out the non-current and no-relevant information.
·        Changes to your job title, position, and your job description.  Promotions.
·         Awards of achievement or any other relevant accomplishment.
·         Is your format current, eye appealing, eye catching?  Does it say WOW!?
·         Is your resume easy to read?
·         Re-read it entirely, check your spelling and watch out for typos.
·         Make sure it is accurate.  Don’t make the mistake of overinflating your resume beyond your abilities and don’t exaggerate your experience. 

Pay attention to the details.  As an employer there is nothing worse than a resume that is not well thought out, well put together and is difficult to decipher. 

A resume that is full of typos or misspelled words will quickly hit my waste basket because it tells me that this person isn’t detail oriented and doesn’t care enough to impress me. 

Don’t include your picture – it’s cheesy. 

On a separate sheet of paper (stationery) you will need to list three professional references.  Not your friends or co-workers, but actual supervisors.  Make sure you have their correct telephone number.  It doesn’t do any good to give out a phone number for a supervisor that no longer works there and can’t be reached.  As a courtesy to them make sure they know you are looking for work and to expect a call.  Present this at your interview, not as part of your initial contact. 

Who needs a resume?  Everyone!  Even stay-at-home moms can draft a resume.  They work – hard! 

Cover Letters - Yes, you need one!  Honestly, it is not the first thing that gets read but it is the first thing that gets seen and if we are impressed with your resume we will go back and read your cover letter. 

·        Before you print it find out the name of the person you most likely will interview with and insert their name in place of “Dear Sir/Madame".
·         Keep it to one paragraph.
·         Don’t forget to sign it in ink.
·         Use a letterhead.  It is easy to create one.
·         Make sure the date at the top is current.
·         Check for typos and misspelled words.
·         Use proper grammar, capitalization and punctuation.
·         Make it professional, not personal. 

Keep some sheets of nice white, gray, or beige stationery on hand to print your resume and cover letter.  Seriously, no pink or scented paper.  Even when so many are submitted online you still want to present a hard copy at an interview. 

If you mail your resume invest in a large white envelope and the extra postage to mail it rather than folding it.  Much better presentation! 

Better yet, deliver it in person and if you do, don’t show up in sweats or jeans.  And don’t take your kids or a friend!  Dress like you would for an interview.  First impressions are extremely important and you may get pulled in on the spot, you just never know. 

So take a little time this weekend, pull out that resume, dust it off and spruce it up.  It is one less thing to worry about when it comes time for a job change.

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