The Best Time to Update Your Resume

As Summer Turns to Fall …

By Ford R. Myers
President, Career Potential, LLC

Summer has traditionally been a fairly slow season for job seekers. In previous issues of “Your Career Advocate,” we’ve discussed how to take advantage of the “Summer Job-Search Doldrums,” and actually use this period to your advantage! Many clients have taken our advice to heart, and have generated great successes throughout the Summer months.

As we mentioned a year ago in “Your Career Advocate,” Career Directors International has been promoting September as “International Update Your Resume Month” since 2000. And just last month, monster.com, the popular job-search web site, designated August 13-17 “Update Your Resume Week 2007.” Following the same reasoning we teach at Career Potential, monster.com stated, “You must be sure that you and your resume are ready for opportunity. Employers viewed more resumes on monster.com in August than in any other month! Keeping your resume up-to-date is a lot like networking – it’s something you should always be doing whether or not you’re hunting for a new job.”

Now that September has arrived and we’re moving into Fall, it’s time to ask what YOU did over the Summer to update your resume and other documents in your “Career Portfolio.” If your answer is “Nothing,” then the time is NOW to “get caught-up” and bring your resume up-to-speed.

With this in mind, let’s go back to basics. Here is an overview of your resume’s building blocks. Following the structure below will ensure that your resume will work hard for you this Fall and throughout the rest of the year:

Elements of a Professional Resume

Regardless of format (chronological, functional, etc.), every resume will be composed of some standard sections. Resumes of experienced professionals should generally be two pages long. Below is a quick guide to the main elements that should be included in every resume.

Personal Information – Always include your full name, address, phone number, e-mail address – as well as a cell phone number and fax number (if you have one). At the top of the second page, be sure to include just your name again, along with the page number.

Summary – A brief statement of who you are, where you’re “coming from,” and what strengths and expertise you have to contribute to an organization. Five or six lines maximum. This will target and focus the reader on where you might fit into their organization. The content of your Summary must be oriented toward the benefits and contributions you offer as a professional. (You can think of the Summary as the “headline” in an article. If the reader is captivated by the “headline,” they’ll go on to read the body of the “article!”)

Professional Experience – A history of your past jobs, responsibilities, and accomplishments. This is the “body of the article,” where most employers and recruiters will focus 90% of their attention. The information you present here, and how you present it, can decide the fate of your candidacy within about 10 seconds of scanning time! Put the most important or impressive facts first within each job. Make your professional experience section easily “scannable” by using bold headings and bullet points. For each position, include a paragraph that generally describes your role, and then include several “bulleted accomplishments.” Be specific and results-focused. Quantify results whenever possible, by using percentages, dollars, and other measurable results.

Education – List the schools, degrees, and years in which you earned them. (Note: you might choose not to include the dates if you graduated a long, long time ago.) Include degree, major, and any honors or special achievements. Generally speaking, the longer you’ve been out of school, the less important this information is to an employer. This section should only include formal education, so don’t list non-academic experiences here.

Professional Development – This is where to cover your affiliations, professional credentials, or related experience. Include association memberships, workshops and seminars, trade groups, and professional societies, leadership positions in industry-recognized organizations, and any additional certifications, accreditations, or designations you’ve earned since leaving school. If you don’t have a college degree, the professional development programs you’ve participated in will take-on special importance here.  

Finally, here are two important points for you to remember: (1) the purpose of your resume is to “get you in the door” – not to land the job! To get the actual offer, you’ll need to leverage all the other skills we’ve covered in previous issues of “Your Career Advocate,” and (2) your resume is a “living document” that will be edited and updated throughout the course of your job search and your entire career.

So, take a good look at your resume now and be sure it’s as strong as it can be. Follow the advice of the career industry experts at Career Directors International, monster.com (and Career Potential), and improve your resume NOW. If you’re not sure how to do this, get help from a qualified Career Consultant or Certified Resume Writer. Don’t wait until next Summer to update this document that is so critical to your career success!

About the Author:
Ford R. Myers is an award-winning career coach and President of Career Potential, LLC. He is author of the best-seller, Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. Ford’s firm helps clients take charge of their careers, create the work they love, and earn what they deserve! He has held senior consulting positions at three of the nation’s largest career service firms. Ford’s articles and interviews have appeared in hundreds of magazines, newspapers, television and radio networks. He has also conducted presentations at many companies, associations and universities. Learn more at www.CareerPotential.com or contact Ford directly at 1-800-972-6588.

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