Most likely, in the past twelve months you have taken on new challenges, developed new skills and completed some exciting projects. Perhaps you have even won an award or received a promotion.
Going into the New Year, updating your résumé should be the first item on your agenda. While maintaining your résumé is always prudent, doing so at the year’s end is ideal since it is a time when many people take time to contemplate the past year’s events and achievements.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind as you go about updating your résumé for 2016.
In careers where performance is measured in numbers, make sure you go beyond listing your achievements; demonstrate their quantifiable or tangible impact on the business.
For example, “If you’re in sales you will want to show that you met or exceeded your quotas. Your résumé might say, ‘increased market share by a certain percentage in the course of the year,’ or ‘successfully created and implemented territory launch plan for a new product,” says Randi Lewis, founder of Resume Boutique. “If you’re an accountant, your résumé might say, ‘performed general ledger reconciliations for multiple accounts.’ You will want to talk about how your work has increased operational efficiency and helped mitigate risk.”
If it has been a while since you updated your résumé, it may be due for some streamlining. If you’ve been in the labor force for more than a few years, consider removing jobs that are no longer relevant to your current career or career goals.
Should you decide that the summer internship from your sophomore year still warrants a mention, edit down all but the most significant information. It’s your most recent experience that really matters.
In fact, a study by The Ladders found that recruiters spend only six seconds reading your résumé before deciding if it is worth further attention.
The study also found that recruiters spent “almost 80 percent of their résumé review time reading the jobseeker’s name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates and education.”
Make your résumé accessible to employers by having it available in several formats. “Nearly every employer wants to receive résumés in one of two file types: Microsoft Word or PDF,” says Trista Winnie of Jobscan. “However, while PDF formats may be pleasing to human eyes, some applicant tracking systems (ATS) cannot parse PDFs correctly. Further, some ATS cannot parse .doc files (Microsoft Word 97-2007) correctly. That makes submitting your résumé as a .docx file the safest and best bet,” Winnie adds.
Study job descriptions for openings in your field and take notice of the words that appear most often. Your résumé must include at least some of those words to ensure it passes muster with applicant tracking systems as well as hiring managers. Yet, don’t go overboard, as “keyword stuffing” could backfire.
In our previous blog on the subject, Mark Slack and Erik Bowitz at the Résumé Companion offered a word of caution. "Not only is the software sophisticated enough to see this kind of keyword stuffing, if your résumé does make it into human hands, no one will be impressed by a nonsensical résumé dressed to the nines in keywords," they explain.
While you may be tempted to use funky fonts and a quirky design to help your résumé stand out, it is generally safer to go with a more traditional approach.
“Use a basic but modern font, like Helvetica, Arial or Century Gothic. Make your résumé easy on hiring managers’ eyes by using a font size between 10 and 12 and leaving a healthy amount of white space on the page,” says Erin Greenawald of The Muse. “You can use a different font or typeface for your name, your résumé headers, and the companies for which you’ve worked, but keep it simple and keep it consistent. Your main focus here should be on readability for the hiring manager.”