Ask Matt: Got any tips for updating my outdated old résumé?

  • Updated: March 5, 2012 - 11:39 AM

Dear Matt: My résumé is like my basement -- hopelessly outdated and full of stuff I don't need! I know it's "back-to-basics," but can you give someone who hasn't even looked at their résumé in 10 years a few tips on updating it and making it more relevant?

Matt says: The first thing you need to do is try to come up with a list of skills, achievements and successes you've accomplished during the past decade and write them down. How many jobs have you had? Did you learn some new technical skills? Did you get a promotion, win an award or take on new responsibilities? What were your greatest accomplishments? Don't worry about focusing on what you did each and every year; instead, try to sum up your biggest successes and achievements.

"Your résumé is designed to showcase you and your abilities," said Arlene Vernon, a Twin Cities-based human resources consultant (arlenevernon.com). "If it's over 10 years old, then the most important experience you bring to a prospective employer is missing."

Write a bullet list of your responsibilities and accomplishments for each job. Start each bullet with a powerful verb that shows that you managed, administered, created, etc., each process and/or result. When doing this, use a job description for your current role, or review ads for jobs you would like to apply for (as a guide). If you have skills and results that match the requirements of your next job, word your résumé to match that job description. Sequence the items by importance or best results.

Beyond experience, you also want to update your résumé from top to bottom: update your address, phone and e-mail, objective/summary and profile. Add in any new technical skills, training courses, organizations, etc.

If you struggle with this, it might be worth attending a free résumé writing seminar at a local WorkForce Center (positivelyminnesota.com / 1-888-438-5627) or even Google the word "résumé" plus your job title to find résumés to review and give you some ideas. If that doesn't work for you, you may want to consider hiring a professional résumé writer who should be able to help ask questions or provide material to help you gather and document your information.

Once you've updated the résumé, take a step back from it. Read it from the bottom back to the top to get a fresh perspective.

"Share it with a few trusted knowledgeable friends to get their opinion," said Vernon. "Evaluate whether you would hire you based on the résumé. Fill in the gaps and enhance the weaker areas."

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