It’s Not Too Late for Your Annual Resume Update

September was national update your resume month, as deemed by Career Directors International and others in the career and resume services sector. Though we are a bit late to the game seeing it’s already October, it is still a great time to pause and take a few moments and update your resume and even your LinkedIn profile.

While this is especially true if you landed a new job, earned a degree or changed careers, it is true with ordinary employees as well. Once a year is the optimal time to add new accomplishments or achievements to your resume as well as awards you’ve received or new projects you’ve taken on. Did you recently start volunteering your time on the weekends for a cause you care about? Add it to the resume too.

Update Your Resume Annually or Suffer the Consequences

By getting in the habit of updating your resume on an annual basis, you are not going to forget about these little extras that when put together build a better and more complete summary of who you are as a person and an employee. Best of all, when the time comes, your resume will be ready for that next career move.

A professional resume writer’s mantra states that it’s always better to have your resume ready before you need it. Why?

Three Distressing Resume Update Situations to Avoid

Those of us who make a living as certified professional resume writers get those frantic phone calls at least once a month or more during peak periods of business. During these occasions, the caller is upset because they don’t have a resume and they need one. Right now.

Time to Update Your Resume

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. The first dire situation is the result of an unexpected layoff or restructuring. This individual has to look for a new job right away but they haven’t updated their resume in years, sometimes decades. They don’t know where to begin or how to proceed. They are upset about the situation and their emotions are clouding their ability to make sound decisions regarding their next career moves. They are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know what to include on their resume, what to leave out, where to even begin.
  1. The second anxiety-producing circumstance involves an unexpected buy out or sale. This person calling about a resume works in sales and is no longer has access to important achievement and quotas information that is necessary for an effective and job-winning sales resume. They know they’ve met their expectations but they no longer have access to the details, percentages and statistics for their sales performance. For sales, account management, and business development professionals, these figures are essential in creating a stand-out resume.
  1. The last type of panic calls we certified professional resume writers get are from the so-called passive job seekers who haven’t update their resume in years but they just stumbled upon their dream job. They want to apply but they know their resume is in scrambles. They are especially worried because the application deadline for the position is tomorrow … can I please help them.

If You Put off Updating Your Resume, You Might Miss out

These are the typical resume emergencies career and resume services professionals face on a semi-regular basis, which is probably where the idea of National Update Your Resume Month came from. September is also a good time because it’s before the holidays and big hiring season (January) and after summer when many people take vacation. The when of it matters less than the what of it; that is, when you update your resume matters less than taking the time to carry out this important career strategy once a year.

Life is unpredictable, and layoffs, corporate buyouts, or dream jobs can come without warning. Each of these scenarios, good or bad, requires having a clean and updated resume on hand. So if that urgent, life-changing career situation happens, you’ll have the resume, cover letter, and tools you need to handle it with grace and poise.

86 Keys Communications creates results-getting resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and related resume writing services for job seekers of every industry and experience level. Contact them today at info@86keys.com.

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Top 5 Mistakes I See as a Certified Professional Resume Writer

I write resumes for a living. That’s what I do. I help people get jobs, or at least I help people take what is often the first step of getting a new job. I help all sorts of people in their job search pursuits, from recent college grads who don’t have a clue to over-the-hill boomers who aren’t in sync with today’s job market.

I help everyday job seekers trying to get ahead, those seeking career advancement, those in career transitions and more. Yet as diverse as my clients are, I see the same mistakes again and again when I write resumes regardless of the client’s particular background.

Here Are the Top 5 Resume Writing Slip-ups I See as a Certified Professional Resume Writer:

1.  They Don’t Seek the Help of a Professional Resume Writer Fast Enough
I see this one all the time and it perplexes me.  Clients who decide to hire the help of a Certified Professional Resume Writer only after they have been unemployed or underemployed for a year or longer. I don’t understand why people wait so long. Paying for professional resume writing services isn’t that expensive; it is surely something people can budget for.

After all, a job-winning resume pays for itself in no time. And let me add here that not every job seeker needs to hire a professional resume writer. But if you have actively been seeking a new job for several months and your efforts have proved fruitless, then please don’t wait to get the help you need.

2.  The Grisly, Poorly Formatted Resume
Though we might not want to admit it, most people including hiring managers and those in HR, are going to pass judgment on you based on the presentation or the outward appearance of your resume. This is human nature. I am especially bothered by a resume with good content but with slipshod formatting because I believe that to be an unfortunate waste.

Sloppy resumes make a bad first impression and scream lazy; they are like showing up to a job interview with spilled mustard on your tie and parsley in your teeth. Those in HR are flooded with resumes and a poorly formatted one gives them an easy excuse to trash it before they read a word.  So if you want anyone to take you or your resume writing seriously, take some time to format it properly.

3.  The Generic Objective Statement in Your Resume Writing
I see this one far too often despite so much information out there talking about how objective statements are dated and practically meaningless. Instead, use that all-important top-of-the-page section to sell yourself in a short summary that highlights your skills, accomplishments and experience.

You can include a specific objective within the summary, “seeking a leadership position in marketing and sales,” for instance. But it should be within the larger context of your background summary. For a recruiter, few things are worse than reading, “Actively seeking employment opportunity at a good company.” To that, my response is, “Yeah, you and everybody else on the planet. Next.”

4.  Far Too Much or Far Too Little Information
I’ve worked with management-level clients who provide me a five-page resume detailing every job they’ve ever had since they graduated high school 20 years ago. On the other hand, I’ve also worked with director-level clients who provide two or three little generic sentences per job, such as

“Responsible for business operations.”
“Managed a team of 15.”
“Oversaw supply chain.”

Information such as this is no better than a basic job description and it forces the reader to guess what the person actually did, a task the hiring manager is unlikely to do. Instead aim for 4-7 meaningful bullet points per job including both descriptive and achievement-oriented information. This is not an absolute rule but it should provide some guidance in your resume writing regarding length.

5.  Resume Writing with Potentially Discriminatory Information
As a Certified Professional Resume Writer, I still see plenty of resumes with identifying content that should be left out, such as age, race, country of origin, religion, etc.  Clients who are not native to the U.S. may not understand the somewhat unspoken rules about what to omit and to include in a resume. And many clients who haven’t had to write resume in 20-plus years may not realize the rules have changes.

There are, however, a few exceptions when it may be okay to include this sort of identifiable information. For example, if you are applying for a teaching position at a catholic school, you may opt to include “member of St. Michael’s Catholic Church” under your association or membership section. The key here is to do this subtly and without elaborating.

86 Keys is a full-service resume writing company offering results-getting resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn Profiles and more to job-seekers of all levels, professions and industries.