If you are similar to most people, your resume sits untouched until the moment comes that you need to apply for a new job. Perhaps you were recently laid off, and panic has set in as you pull out your old resume and see how out of date it is. Alternatively, maybe you are casually looking into new opportunities, but the sight of your old resume leaves you feeling overwhelmed.
If updating your resume feels like a difficult—if not impossible—task, we are here to help. Instead of facing a full resume rewrite at once, we broke down resume updates into easily accomplished singular tasks. You can use this list any way you wish. You might schedule one task each day until your resume is up to date, or you might give yourself a weekly assignment; it’s entirely up to you. Whatever you decide to do, with this guide, updating your resume is simple and less daunting.
#1: Pull it up or print it off and make quick notes
The first step in updating your resume is to bring it out of the dark. If you have the file saved to your computer, either pull it up in a text editor or print it off. However you feel most comfortable working with your resume, the initial goal is to simply give it a quick once over.
Using either a text editor or small post-it notes and a pen, make some quick notes about what you see. Look for areas that you immediately recognize need updating. If you have any initial thoughts about things you’d like to change, jot those down.
This isn’t the time to worry about diving in and getting detailed; instead, this should be a quick five-minute activity. These notes will help you as you dive deeper into revamping your resume. Not only that, but sometimes the simple act of facing your old resume helps to take away the anxiety around its current condition. You might discover that it’s not as bad as you thought.
#2: Evaluate your listed experience
For your next activity, you’re going to take a deeper look at the experience you have listed. This is usually one of the biggest areas in need of a revamp.
Look at this from a two-fold approach:
- What new positions do you need to add to your resume? Make sure you have key information about your most recent employment. You’ll want the name of your employer, the length of time you were employed, and some key facts about your experience and accomplishments.
- What positions should you remove from your resume? In some cases, your resume might still include information that is no longer relevant. For example, if you are a decade into a professional career, it might be time to pull off information about your part-time job waiting tables in college. This will help ensure that your resume doesn’t become too long.
#3: Do a keyword search
There has been a big shift in how resumes are initially read in recent years. Many companies rely on computers – or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) – to scan resumes for important keywords. If the keywords don’t show up, the resume never makes it into the hands of a human.
For this reason, if it’s been a while since you last updated your resume, it will be important to search the document for industry-specific keywords. Go back through and naturally sprinkle in keywords.
#4: Update your skills
Along with adding in your latest job experience, you’ll want to take time to review what skills you have listed. Have you learned any new technologies? Are you certified in anything new? Make sure that any relevant skills are clearly listed. This is another effective way to include important keywords on your resume.
#5: Find room for numbers
One of the best ways to make your resume stand out from others is to incorporate numbers. Numbers help to quantify an accomplishment.
For example, see which of the following sounds more impactful:
- Drive an increase in sales.
- Increased sales by 50% over 12 months.
Our point is made. So scan over all of your bullet points showing your accomplishments, and look for areas where you can add in a number to help quantify your work.
#6: Run it through a spell check
Now that you have added updates to your resume, it’s time to make sure that everything is in order. Run your resume through a spelling and grammar check. Many word processors have these tools built in, but you can also use an online tool, such as Grammarly, to double-check your content.
#7: Send it to a friend
With your updated resume ready, it’s time to put it in front of a friend, colleague, or family member. Ask for feedback, particularly around the clarity of your statements. What might sound straightforward to you could be confusing to someone else.
This constructive criticism can help you hone your messaging to be clear and succinct. Incorporate feedback as necessary and spell check one last time.
#8: Scan it quickly
Finally, similar to asking someone else to read your resume, take the time to scan your resume with your own two eyes. Set it down for at least a day and come back to it later. Don’t get lost in the details, but instead, quickly scan your resume from top to bottom.
What stands out to you? Do you feel that it is easy to locate relevant information quickly? If you see anything that seems amiss, do one last rework of your resume.
#9: Let the pros handle your update
Finally, one of the easiest and fastest ways to update your resume is to let the pros handle it for you. Not only will handing over your resume to a professional make updating it easier, but it will also ensure that the end product is the best representation of your professional career.
At Ladders, we offer free resume rewrites. We will be happy to help you craft the ideal resume for your specific needs. We have experience writing resumes of all kinds, and we can make updating your resume less stressful and time-consuming.
Remember, your resume is one of the most important documents you will provide to a hiring manager. When your resume is written well, it can open doors and land you interviews.
Always take the time to update your resume before applying to a new role.