A Résumé Refresh for the New Year

January 3, 2019

[9dream studio]
[9dream studio]

The start of the New Year is always an excellent time to take stock of your accomplishments by refreshing your résumé, whether you’re looking for new career opportunities in 2019 or not. A résumé is more than a formal list detailing where you went to school, the jobs you’ve held and what your core skills are; it’s also one of your most valuable personal marketing tools.

When looking over your résumé and deciding what to remove and what to add, ask yourself the following questions:

Is this easy to read and error-free?

Let’s start with the basics. Your résumé should be flawless (free of spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors), and your formatting should be neat and consistent throughout the document. Avoid using too many bullets. Always double-check the tenses that you use when describing any work experiences, and stick with reverse chronological order (your most recent experience first).

Is this succinct enough for a recruiter to effortlessly consume and comprehend?

If you’re an entry-level candidate, there is no reason for your résumé to be longer than a page. (And your cover note does not need to be a thesis, but that’s a conversation for another day.) Detail your previous internships, and if you haven’t had any yet, then make note of volunteer work and academic activities.

Further along in your career? The same applies — keep it short and sweet. Research shows that the average recruiter will only spend a few seconds looking at a résumé before deciding whether or not to keep reading. You need to quickly capture their attention with relevant information about you. Steer clear of groan-inducing buzzwords, but definitely use words that may come up in a search, like phrases from the job description.

Does this correspond with my social media presence?

If you use LinkedIn for networking, then your profile should be synonymous with your résumé when it comes to detailing your work history. It can potentially raise a red flag to talent acquisition professionals when something listed on your LinkedIn profile does not appear on your résumé or vice versa.

Are you a content creator? Do you have solid past work examples to highlight? Provide a link to your digital portfolio, too.

Will this be processed by an applicant tracking system or career portal?

Graphics-heavy résumés often do not parse correctly into applicant-tracking systems. Keep graphics and images on a separate document that you can provide to a recruiter or hiring manager once you’ve already secured an initial interview. Unusual fonts and headings sometimes skew how your information is pulled into databases, meaning that your information might never actually be seen.

Also, save your résumé under your full name with the current date. This helps hiring teams keep track of the documentation on file for you, and guarantees that they are referring to your most recent information.

Does this clarify the roles that I’m interested in, and that are a fit for me?

It’s fine to have several versions of your résumé, especially if you’re looking into branching out from your current career path. Keep track of which résumé you send to each company. When a recruiter first looks at your profile, they need to see how your experiences and skills run parallel to the role that you are interested in. If those facts are unclear, then you may need to revise how you have presented yourself.

Once you have covered all of the bases, get a second pair of eyes on your final, master draft. Always remember to ask a trusted mentor, professor or colleague to review your résumé for any errors that you may have missed, general readability and overall professional appeal. In the world of public relations, you are a storyteller and a brand builder. In 2019, use your résumé to tell your story.

Christina Stokes

Christina Stokes is the vice president and director of talent acquisition at Rubenstein. She is passionate about refining and enhancing employee engagement, company culture, and diversity and inclusion efforts. Twitter: @NewYorkRoses.

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