Reading this because you have waited until the last minute to update and write a killer resume for that unexpected job opening?
You’re not alone by any stretch of the imagination. Too many people keep an old dusty copy of their resume in a computer file somewhere and hope that it’s ‘good enough’ to send to a potential employer. But, when the time comes for submitting your DIY resume and applying for a position, the one you have is likely not going to cut it.
Any resume past 6 months old, or one that hasn’t been updated since a recent career or academic change or achievement isn’t necessarily worthless, but certainly, only a 5 or 6 instead of a 9 or 10 when ranked on quality, relevance, and freshness.
When attempting to write a killer resume, this simply means having a resume that touches on all the key points of what the hiring company wants in the perfect new hire. For example, companies oftentimes want to see current and relevant work history, achievements you have (that they are hoping you can repeat), and the right amount of hands-on and formal education.
Why you procrastinate — and how it’s costing you, BIG!
Job seekers typically put things off until the 11th hour to update their resumes. They only take things on when a new job opening demands their immediate attention. To procrastinate is human, and so many people wait until a resume has been requested to take any action. Some people believe that “haste makes waste” and they use this to put some fire under their, well … you get the idea.
The problem with doing things this way is that so much can go wrong when so little time is spent on what is considered to be the most important career document. Your resume needs to produce top results for you. No excuses.
Professionals LOSE interviews and subsequent job offers when their resumes don’t include a complete account of current skills and career relevancy that show how they’ve excelled with their most recent employers.
This is why you should NEVER wait until the last minute to update your resume.
This lack of attention to detail is costing your time because you spend more time job searching than you should, which in turn is costing you money. Essentially, you are making the job search process last longer and be far more painful than it should be, just because you aren’t taking the time to properly write and optimize that “killer resume.”
I challenge you to do this…
Take notice of how Mark Cuban or any other mega-billionaires run their business. You’ll notice these top achievers INVEST in the things that give them the biggest returns. They don’t haggle over the things that benefit their business image. Those who penny pinch oftentimes find themselves stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.
This is essentially how job seekers who seek a shorter job search and higher salaries are doing when they refuse to invest in a resume writer or a career coach.
Why should everyone overhaul their resume more than once in a while?
It’s important to have a resume that reflects the most up-to-date information so that at any time you can retrieve it and present it to companies with confidence.
On top of that, resume strategies change nearly every year to make room for updates to applicant tracking systems and other recruitment technology. An example of this: more resumes are primarily being reviewed as soft copies on a computer screen, and they are passing through resume screening software before they even make it to this step.
Think about the last time you actually printed and mailed your resume – it’s probably been a long time.
By the way, soft copies of resumes are digital copies that make it possible to be much more creative than in days gone by. In some cases, job seekers can add some nice topography to make words jump off the page, or use some graphic design principles to improve the resume appearance. A few years ago, this was a no-no.
5 Content Strategies To Help You Write a Killer Resume
What does it mean to your career to have a knock ‘em down, wow-the-hiring-manager kind of resume?
This could open up numerous possibilities for your career and your life. A dull, outdated resume just won’t cut it anymore. You need a resume that will work for you. Present an outstanding view of your skills. And, make the person reading the resume want to know more.
In other words, you want to essentially ‘slay’ the other person with your amazing skills and background. If you want to do this now, here are some tips you can use.
#1 – Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes.
What would you like to see on this resume? How about the way it reads – do you find the information you need to know fast, or are you hunting for it? If these are trouble areas, they should be the first things you correct.
This means, the top section of your resume needs to be skimmable (easily readable). Here’s an example resume summary:
Although this individual has a heavy top resume section, there are a few key notables that pop out.
For example, the type of position being pursued (e.g. CEO/Business Developer, Specific to Aviation) and then you quickly see the size of airlines he’s worked for before (e.g. $600M P&L) and then a representation of revenue growth (e.g. increases up to 30%).
#2 – Make sure you are using the right resume.
Is your resume reflective of the actual job?
If you are just using your regular old resume and trying to send that over, you are missing the point.
Remember earlier when I mentioned applicant tracking systems and the way they scan resumes?
If your resume doesn’t include information that the recruiter will be looking for, you can guess that your resume will not end up somewhere nice.
The best way to ensure you are using the right resume is to create a top 10 list of core skills and requirements outlined from the company’s job description and then cross-referencing that top 10 list to your resume.
For example, a company seeking resumes from candidates who have these top 5 skills…
- Project management
- Vendor relations
- App development
- Financial administration
- Milestone compliance
Shouldn’t get a resume that specifies only…
- Project support
See the disconnect?
But, you’re probably wondering what you should do if you’ve never done those required job tasks before.
This is easy.
You simply shift the content of your resume, specifically the top summary section, to what you CAN DO versus what you HAVE DONE.
Does that make sense?
So, you will write like this: “Work closely with the project manager to ensure each project remains on budget and completed within the expected project timeline. Advise on issues with on-site vendors working on app development and online integrations/solutions.”
#3 – Don’t age yourself.
While it is illegal to discriminate against candidates based on age, and other factors, some recruiters still end up weeding people out based on things like age, race, and other traits. It’s because they are under pressure to present the ‘perfect’ candidate, and sometimes that’s a 20-something piece of eye candy.
We have some control over how “old our resumes make us look.” How to address this is by simply looking at your oldest positions in your resume.
Are you going back to the 1970s, 1980s, or even the 1990s?
If you have any positions listed from either of these timeframes, you’ve already spotted job roles you MUST eliminate immediately. The general rule for a resume has always been to cover a 10-year timeframe, though this isn’t a hard and fast rule.
“Weighing” those older positions in your resume also become critical when the length of your resume gets out of hand; e.g. 3-5 pages.
How can you take this one step further and take “age” out of your resume?
Start by deleting the year you received your degrees — this is particularly a good idea for those who received their degrees 10+ years ago. For example, for those who’s education section in their resume looks like this …
M.S. Accounting (Emphasis: Tax), 1998 | Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
B.S., Business & Accounting, 1995 | University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio
… would then get changed to this …
M.S. Accounting (Emphasis: Tax) | Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
B.S., Business & Accounting | University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio
Won’t hiring companies want to see the year you received your degrees?
You’d be surprised at how many really don’t care for that information in the beginning of your relationship. Colleges can easily search for graduates despite having a graduation year; so when hiring companies get to the point of verifying your education, you likely won’t even be asked for the dates.
Also worth noting is that some recruiters purposely delete graduation dates before pitching a candidate to a client (hiring company).
Don’t choke, but there are also times when leaving your education off your resume is the better option too. I get push-back from clients sometimes when I propose deleting a specific degree; however once I explain my reasoning, most clients completely understand. If you want to learn more about whether you should exclude a specific degree from your resume, I recommend reading this other blog post titled: ”
Yup, I do get push-back from clients sometimes when I propose deleting a specific degree; however, once I explain my reasoning, most clients completely understand and are all for it. If you want to learn more about whether you should exclude a specific degree from your resume, I recommend reading this other blog post titled: ”
If you want to learn more about whether you should exclude a specific degree from your resume, I recommend reading this other blog post titled: “When Should I Leave Education Off My Resume?”
#4 – Show some proof — and quantify everything you can.
Sure, your resume has plenty of achievements listed out in neat little bullet points, but make sure you quantify everything you can.
Not sure of the exact numbers?
Putting an exact number of achievements can sometimes be a challenge for those who aren’t privy to tracking reports.
What I recommend is “covering your butt” with words like:
- Estimated to have increased…
- Forecasted to reach…
- Generated approximately…
Here’s an example you might find in someone’s resume:
- Renegotiated an SaaS contract that was forecasted to save the company $1.3M in 2012 (left company in 2013).
By wording the potential savings this way, the professional covers themselves should the savings ultimately be uncovered as only $1.1M or more like $1.45M.
#5 – Watch that design.
It’s great to be creative, and as I mentioned above, modern resumes can include cool looking graphics and formats. But be aware that whatever you choose to do with your resume can and will be judged. Don’t go overboard with the fancy fonts and colors. Leave out your photo, obviously.
How much design you introduce can also be dictated by the type of position you’re pursuing. For example, a professional in marketing can have a bit more flexibility with design, than an R&D professional.
Then, there are some folks who are heavy hitters in their fields and can get away with almost anything with their resumes. Like this gal:
When you need a new resume, and you have very little time – what should you do?
I recommend that job seekers not only revamp their resumes at least every one to two years but also that they seek out the support and guidance of a trained and certified resume writer.
A professional resume writer has years of experience writing highly effective resumes and cover letters on behalf of job seekers. A resume writer can help with improving the content and the overall look of a resume so that it gets the attention it deserves.
It’s a lot more productive to go this route than handling your resume alone and making mistakes.