Refresh Your Résumé

It’s the scariest question in the world. Yes, that sinister request that sounds so simple. How do you respond? Up until now, you’ve been gainfully employed and haven’t had to think about such evils. Brace yourself; hold that head up high! What’s the question?

“Do you have an updated résumé?”

A résumé is not going to get you a job, but it may open the door for an interview. Here are some thoughts:

  1. One size does not fit all. Read the description for the job and tailor your résumé to reflect those specific requirements. Key words are vital and needs to tell the applicant tracking system to “pick me.”
  2. Go with the flow. Don’t skip around. Keep your experience in chronological order.
  3. Attention to detail. The job wants attention to detail and you have typos and grammatical mistakes on your own résumé. Would you hire you?
  4. Leave out the “Objective” section. An objective can seem contrived or knock you out of the running if it’s not a fit for the position. Instead, save that valuable real estate on your résumé for a summary or profile section that highlights relevant experience and skills that match the job.
  5. If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. Those who have taken any of my classes have heard this phrase credited to Jac Fitz-ens. Quantify. Show your metrics. “Increased the sales revenues of our division.” Or “Increased the sales revenues of left handed doohickey products by 68.5 percent within six months.” Effort doesn’t count – only results matter.
  6. WYCM. Chances are your reader may not know abbreviations that should stay on Twitter and off your résumé. LOL.
  7. Hopes and Dreams. Keep those on your pillow at night and out of your objective. “I hope to be,” “I look forward to,” “My ideal job would be,” and certainly not “I plan to be in your job very soon.” In addition, do not use personal pronouns like “I” or “me” – it is your résumé, after all.
  8. KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. Yes, I did say no more abbreviations, but do keep it simple. Use a one page résumé unless you have many notable accomplishments. If you have to go to two pages that’s OK, but most recruiters will not read anything longer. Most readers will give it no more than 15 seconds. Although there are many brilliant recruiters who scan your résumé and can understand whether your background matches the job, the reality is that person may not be the technical expert. Look critically at the finished document. Does information pop out when you scan it?
  9. Fancy is not easy. At least, it isn’t easy to read. Use white paper, black type and Times Roman fonts between 9-12 point. This isn’t a term paper you are padding with a 14-point font and two-inch margins. Use bullets and avoid long, redundant sentences.
  10. Match format specifications. Pay close attention to the requested format for résumé submission (PDF, word, etc.) Your document may not be readable otherwise. Also, this shows you listen and follow directions.
  11. Share a great story. If you have one, share it. You just spent a year digging wells, studying abroad, immersing yourself in a language, writing a book…. use this to launch a conversation that demonstrates your adaptability, leadership skills, etc.
  12. Social Media. Sure LinkedIn is great for networking, but does your résumé match what you have already posted? Will your former boss laugh at what you think you did? If your potential employer looks at your social media, will they be alarmed by any of its content?
  13. No experience. Sure you do. Highlight your experience with extracurricular groups and leadership roles and any project your helped develop. Avoid membership in name only clubs.
  14. CV versus résumé. A résumé is short. A Curriculum Vitae is longer, detailed, shows your published work, awards, etc. A CV is typically used for higher education applications or specific job requirements.
  15. Keep it to yourself. You worked for a lousy company and you want the world to know. Don’t ever badmouth a former employer even if you have to bite jagged holes in your lip. Avoid, “I Left this organization because of their pitiful ethics and pathetic supervisors.” Your interviewer may agree with you, but will wonder what you will say about them to your next employer. That’s not to say you can’t show how you have fixed or solved problems in your past position.


kathy-fenninger__editedKathleen M. Fenninger, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
GPHR, – SHRM-CP and Essentials of HR Instructor – has more than 25 years of experience in human resources both as a generalist and an employment specialist, primarily in the energy and financial services industries in Houston and New York City. She has been an instructor for the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies since 1996. Ms. Fenninger holds an M.B.A. in organizational behavior and marketing, an M.S. in education and a B.A. in English from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, where she was an instructor for several years.

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