Friday, April 3, 2009

Updating a Resume

I can’t think of anything less fun than updating my resume, but truthfully, it is a very important task to carry out. I update my resume about once a year because it’s very easy to forget about all the little things we’ve done at work during the previous year. One thing that I recommend doing is keeping a work log for the sole purpose of keeping your resume up-to-date. At the end of every month you can jot down every thing you’ve done at work that could be considered resume appropriate in your work log. You could write down presentations you developed and led, workshops you attended, projects you were involved in that yielded specific outcomes (write down the numbers/data/evidence), conferences you attended, etc.
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Another important thing to consider when updating your resume is the format. Some questions to think about when choosing a format: Does my resume have a theme? Does it need one? Is a chronological resume the best for me? Would a functional resume work better? The answers to these depend upon your previous experience, future goals, and employers you may work with down the line. Some good examples of these resume formats can be found at www.careers.wsu.edu.

The last essential part of resume updating is in the little details. Make sure your personal information and contact information are accurate. Also, if you have an objective statement on your resume, it probably needs updating since you have most likely progressed in your current position. If you don’t have an objective but do have a skill section, then make sure that skill section is up-to-date. When it comes to updating your current position on your resume, be sure to revise your duties, skills, responsibilities, accomplishments, dates of employment, and any new licensure or certifications. Other important sections to update would be education, volunteer work, professional organizations, and references. Reevaluate your references and make sure their information is correct and also make sure that they are still appropriate references for your goals. With the current market instability we face today, it’s imperative to be prepared for the unknown as best as we can.

Take care,

Chris

2 comments:

  1. I’ve heard a resume should be only one page long. Is that true? Any general advice about what to leave out?

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  2. Hi James,

    Some people will tell you that a resume should only be one page long, others may tell you that it should be as long as you need, and many different things in between. The real rule about resume length is that there is no standard that covers all industries in all areas. If you are applying to a job that is listed on a major job posting site, then you want to keep it brief because there will be hundreds of others applying to that position. On average, an employer spends around 25 – 55 seconds “reading” a resume (reading in quotations because it’s often more like scanning than reading). This is the average though, so not every situation will be like this. Some employers will have the time to actually read over your resume, and others will not. An old industry rule was one page of resume for every ten years of experience, but this is rarely followed today it seems. My personal opinion for resume length is to consider the employer, use full pages (two full pages is better than one and a half pages), and don’t waste space on irrelevant material. What’s relevant and what’s not? Well, that all depends on the desired position and your background. I don’t really have any general advice about what to leave out because resume professionals have very different ideas about what makes a resume effective. I have spoken with many human resource people; some like it when little personal things, like hobbies, are included, and some do not. Let your resume tell a story. Let it have a theme and leave off anything that doesn’t support your story.

    Take care,
    Chris

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