When it comes to your résumé, it's smart to periodically revisit and refresh it, even if you aren't looking for a new job at that moment. Having a current résumé will come in handy should you find yourself in a position where you need or want a new job right away.
No need to panic that your résumé needs a total overhaul. There are a few basic items that you can update easily. Here are five:
1. Contact information
This might seem like an obvious one, but if you haven't touched your résumé in a while, you may still have your old address or cellphone number on there. Also, check to see which email address you've included; you want the email address on your résumé to be as professionally sounding as possible. If your email address is still email@example.com, it's time to create a new one. Consider [first name].[last name]@hotmail.com instead.
2. Objective statement
Your objective statement may be up-to-date, well thought out and well written. The problem? You have an objective statement in the first place. Objective statements are outdated and are being replaced by professional summaries or summaries of qualifications. The difference between the two is that objective statements talk about what you want in a job; professional summaries recap your job-seeker "brand" and explain why you're the right fit for the position in question. Since this is usually the first thing hiring managers will read on your résumé, you want to make sure it grabs their attention and makes them want to learn more about your skills and qualifications.
3. Skills/areas of expertise section
The skills or areas of expertise section is usually where you list out in bullets everything you're proficient at; so anything from a certain Web design program you've mastered to your negotiating skills. Take a look at your list to make sure you can still confidently say you excel at all those skills, and see if there are any new skills you've acquired that you'd like to add. Also think about the "So what?" for each skill listed; if you can't answer or speak in depth about your expertise, don't include it. Something else to consider? Removing this section all together and incorporating your skills into the professional summary/summary of qualifications section.
You may be proud of your 3.9 GPA or that you graduated with honors. And if you're entry level, you should include such achievements, along with relevant coursework, on your résumé. However, if you're an experienced job seeker, it's no longer necessary to mention your GPA or go into specifics about what classes you took as an undergrad. Instead, keep this section simple, listing the college you went to and its location, the degree(s) you graduated with and years attended.
Of course, if you recently went back to school to obtain a post-graduate degree or certification, that information should be included, especially if it shows how you have gained skills that will help you succeed at the job for which you're applying.
With the limited amount of space that you have to include your entire work and education history, it can be tempting to use a ton of different font sizes, bullets and section breaks to break up the content and keep it organized. If your résumé looks like an eye sore, it's time for a formatting refresh. Sleek and simple is the name of the game -- use easy-to-read fonts and clean formatting. You can use all caps or a different font color to emphasize section headers, but keep it consistent and stick with basic colors such as blue.
Sure, change is never easy, but with a few simple updates to your résumé, you'll be in good shape to tackle a new job search -- whether that's a few days, months or years down the road.
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Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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Story Filed Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - 12:53 PM