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Sunday, March 20, 2011

9 Tips for Refreshing Your Resume


Give Your Resume a Facelift

As the job market slowly improves in 2011 and you dust off that old resume for a job search, you may find it's time to give it a face lift.

As always, your resume should be attractive and readable. But now there's more than just snail mail to send it out. It has become important to make the most of the Internet to distribute and display your resume effectively on social networking, job-hunting and career sites, and in job-application engines on corporate websites.

Follow these nine tips to update your resume for 2011 and beyond.

Focus on Selected Accomplishments

Hiring managers don't want to read a laundry list of your job duties, since they can typically figure out your responsibilities based on your title. Instead, focus on measurable achievements -- numbers, percentages, awards -- that show your skills, says Bruce Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing in New York.

"Create bullet points of three to five selected accomplishments so that the reader of the resume would immediately know why, objectively, they should consider you for the position," Hurwitz says.

Be Brief

Even if you could write dozens of pages on your work history, avoid the temptation. You'll have plenty of time to dig into the details of your skills and accomplishments when you get into an interview, so consider your resume to be a highlights reel. Curate the best of the best to keep your resume to a manageable one or two pages.

"In a resume, think these three things: short, sweet and to-the-point," Hurwitz says.

Remove Pointless Sections

If you're tempted to list your hobbies, your personal information and health, or even the phrase "references available on request," reconsider. Not only do they take up valuable space you could use to showcase your accomplishments, but they could make you look downright unprofessional.

"Some of these things used to be standard 15 or 20 years ago, but now they'll make you look dated," says Cheryl Palmer, an executive career coach and founder of Call to Career in Silver Spring, Md. A human resources director is going to assume you'll furnish references at the interview. Hobbies aren't worth listing unless they're somehow relevant to the job you're applying for, and your personal information -- marital status, children -- also isn't relevant.

Triple Check to Make Your Resume Error-Free

Employers often spend just seconds with a resume, and a single typo can send it to the discard pile.

"A resume does not get you hired, but it is commonly used to get you eliminated from the next phase of the recruiting process," says Robin Reshwan, founder of Collegial Staffing in Alamo, Calif.

Hiring managers may toss resumes for even the smallest matters -- a single typo, inconsistent punctuation, or even cliched phrases like "detail-oriented" or "people person."

"Only after the easy eliminations have been made do busy managers actually read the content of selected resumes," she says.

Have More Than one Format

Yes, you spent four hours getting the bullet points, margins, bolding and fonts just right in your Word document.

Here's the bad news. When you submit that document to an online job or corporate site, it's going to turn into a mess, with apostrophes morphing into strange squiggles and characters, and all those crisp paragraphs into a massive lump, Palmer says.

This is why it's important to prepare your resume in several different formats, so your hard work doesn't go to waste. Some popular ways to save your resume are in Word, as plain text and as a PDF. The PDF also works well if you have an artistic element to your resume that you don't want to lose. Different employers prefer different formats, so be sure to double check.

Take Advantage of LinkedIn

Job searching or not, everybody who's anybody is on the business networking site LinkedIn, including employees from every Fortune 500 company and most recruiters. You should be on it, too. It's a great way to keep your job information current. And, because of its ubiquity, it won't raise red flags with your employer who might otherwise catch on to your jobsearch.

You can add photos, recommendations and an online portfolio to help others get a sense of your work. Just make sure you're consistent, Palmer says.

"Make sure that the dates of your resume match up with the dates on your LinkedIn profile," she says. "You don't want employers comparing the two and asking themselves which one is right."

Use LinkedIn and Twitter Together

Like peanut butter and chocolate, LinkedIn and Twitter go great together. LinkedIn requires users to give permission to others to access their information. This often means it's difficult, if not impossible, to link up to future employers.

However, you can follow the feeds from companies and their employees on Twitter without any permission. "You can use a Twitter (feed) to gather intelligence about a particular company you've targeted, then start a conversation with them on Twitter," Palmer says.

If the conversation is worthwhile, you can easily send them a link to your LinkedIn profile to go beyond Twitter's limit of 140 characters per message.

Know Your Confidentiality Needs

The Internet has opened up new worlds for job seekers, but it's important to understand that if you're willing to share your information on the Web, everyone can find out that you're ready for a new gig, including your current boss. If discretion is important to your job search, it's best not to post your resume to any online job sites.

"Once you put your resume on the Internet, you can kiss confidentiality goodbye," says Hurwitz. "Only do it if you're comfortable with your boss asking you why you're looking for a new job."

Ditch the Video Resume

Unless you're looking to anchor the 6 p.m. newscast, don't bother making a video resume. There's a reason traditional documents work best. They're easy to search, they're simple to file and store, and they're easy to scan in just a few seconds.

"If hiring managers are only going to spend a few seconds looking at each resume, they're certainly not going to spend their time watching videos," Hurwitz says. "If you're applying for a position as a controller, it doesn't matter how you function in front of a camera. It matters how you function in front of a keyboard."


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