There are plenty of articles available showing you how to build your resume, but what about the mid- or late-career professional whose resume needs a facelift? As the director of the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at California Southern University, I review hundreds of resumes weekly. Here are a few tips for updating a professional resume.
When you want to improve your resume, and it has been awhile since you first developed it, keep the following in mind.
Your Email Address What email address are you using? Did you create an email address in 1992 and are still using it because you have not bothered to update it? Are you still using [email protected]? It might be time to change your email address. Remember—appearance counts, and your email address is an important part of that (online) appearance.
Use a professional email address that uses your name ([email protected] for example, or [email protected]). Never use your company email address. When setting up your new professional email address, make it your address; avoid using family, couple or group email addresses like [email protected] Remember, you are marketing you and want to demonstrate your professional side without providing additional information about your personal life that may affect the decision of whether to put your resume on the "to interview" pile.
Your Resume’s Structure Pay attention to the way your resume is organized. Set it up in a way that will call attention to the most important aspects of your career based on the job listing. If you are applying to an educational entity for example, put your education at top. Applying for a tech job? Place technical certifications at the top of your resume so that you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants.
Details Matter Attention to detail. This one simple thing can be the difference in your resume being forwarded to the head of the department or being relegated to the "thanks but no thanks" bin. Be sure that the filename of your resume has your name in it! I can't tell you how many times I receive resumes that are named "resume2016Spring"or something similar. This might be a great way for you to organize yourself, but the initial reviewer for your dream job may receive hundreds of these in a single day. Make it easy for them to identify you as a person and not just one of many.
While you may be tempted to use highlighting, underlining, boldface or italics in your letter of introduction, overusing these devices is distracting and often counterproductive. It may send the message to the reviewer that you are aggressive or, even worse, that you write at an elementary-school level. Remember underlining sections of your book report in fourth grade and saying that you really, really, really liked the story?
Get Comfortable With Technology Create a LinkedIn account and become familiar with social media so you can speak to it when you are interviewed. Even if you do not love it, have avoided it in the past or do not see any value in it, having a rudimentary comfort level with technology and social media will help you to speak confidently should the subject arise.
Learn to speak “technologese.” Jobs that do not require you to use technology do not exist anymore. If a preliminary interviewer asks you to “open a tab” and you do not know what they are talking about, you need to brush up on your basic tech skills. Know how to print, save a file, access files in the cloud, make and upload a video, scan and email a document, cut and paste between documents, as well as some simple techniques for troubleshooting and determining what is wrong with your computer. Most of this information is readily available with a simple web search. Don't know what a web search is? Google it. Really, type in “what is a web search?” in Google or another search engine (Yahoo or Bing, for example).
Leave Assumed Skills Off “Knowledge of Microsoft Word” tells the reviewer that your technological skills are outdated or basic. Leave this kind of thing off your resume. The same goes for statements like "comfortable with electronic mail" or "adept at fax usage." These will have the opposite of the intended effect and send an implicit message that you are not comfortable with technology.
Spelling and Slang Finally, use spelchk, and don’t use texting shortcuts. “I want to join U at UR company” is not appropriate for a professional letter or resume. (And yes, the intentional misspelling was an attempt at a little humor.)
After you have reviewed your resume for all of the above, ask a friend or mentor you trust to review your resume with a critical eye. They will be likely to catch anything that you may have missed. Finally, if you do not hear from the company after 10 days, consider sending a short and friendly follow-up message.