It’s always a good time to update your resume, but a reminder certainly helps. That’s why Career Directors International holds its annual International Update Your Resume Month.
September may be nearly over, but there’s still time to spruce up your resume.
Career Directors International (CDI), an association for professional resume writers and other career-coaching professionals, spent September celebrating International Update Your Resume Month, an annual event (now in its 14th year) that encourages employees to take a closer look at the professional document that’s meant to ensure their career ladder has another rung or two.
And let’s face it: Too often people get comfortable with their jobs, and they don’t bother updating their CV when their new accomplishments are still fresh. “Too often job seekers avoid taking this crucial step until the last minute, when they need their resume yesterday,” the association states on its website. “However, by declaring September as the official update month, people will have the opportunity to better control and champion their own futures.”
A few pointers on how to give your resume a refresh, based on CDI member advice:
Grab attention quickly: Does your resume hold up to a 15-second scan? If not, you may want to tighten it up, because too often, that’s all the time you’re going to get from a recruiter. Keep in mind that the person reading it is probably going to be sick of reading resumes by the time he or she gets to yours. “Writing a resume isn’t all that difficult, but reading them is a different story,” explains 1st Rate Resumes’ Susan Geary [PDF]. “That’s because most resumes lack focus and contain huge, boring words. They have a reputation of being pretentious and vague, and no one wants to read them all the way through.”
Don’t lie about (or exaggerate) your accomplishments: CareerPro of New Orleans’ Grant Cooper says the risks of a little embellishment [PDF] are too severe to even chance it. Sure, you can sell yourself, but don’t go overboard. “There are no hard and fast guidelines as to the many gray areas that go into making a job-winning resume, but a combination of honesty and assertiveness will work the best,” he suggests. “Your resume is in fact a marketing tool, not a dossier.”
Don’t bury your certifications: If have a new certification or relevant learning experience under your belt, play it up, because you earned it, after all, says Ilona Vanderwoude of Career Branches [PDF]. “If you finished your education or obtained a certification, make sure to add this, and, if it’s relevant to your current career focus, list it close to the beginning of your resume—not at the bottom.”
Make your resume as long as it needs to be: Often, job hunters limit themselves to a single page or make the document too long, listing every possible detail. There are different schools of thought on this, but resume writer Patricia Duckers, president of Prism Writing Services, notes [PDF] that, ultimately, what matters is whether the information you’re putting on the page is worth the space you’re giving it. “Instead of pondering endlessly the ideal length of your resume, a better question to mull is how much information is too much,” she writes. “The answer will help determine the appropriate length of a well-written resume.”
Do you have any advice to share about your CV strategy? Offer your suggestions in the comments.