Whether you've been in the workforce for a couple of years or a couple of decades, you're probably aware that a strong resume Opens a New Window. could spell the difference between getting hired at your dream job or getting passed over. You're also most likely aware that as your skills and responsibilities change at work, it's crucial to revise that resume to ensure that it's up to date.
But how often do you need to update your resume? According to new data from Monster.com Opens a New Window. , 8% of U.S. workers can't remember the last time they made changes to their resumes. Meanwhile, 15% of employees go to the opposite extreme by updating their resumes as frequently as every day, which -- let's face it -- seems like overkill. A more ideal balance, therefore, is to revisit your resume every six to 12 months to ensure that it's accurate. You should also make a point of updating your resume whenever you:
- Get a promotion. Opens a New Window.
- Complete a major project.
- Obtain a certification Opens a New Window. or degree.
- Master a new skill.
But don't just bust out your resume, throw in an extra bullet point, and call it a day. Rather, if you're going to rework your resume, take the time to really make it shine.
Perfecting your resume
The stronger your resume, the greater your chances of getting in the door the next time you apply for a job. When you go to update your resume, read through it and make sure you're focusing on your most important skills, tasks, and accomplishments. As a general rule, it's smart to put your most impressive qualities and responsibilities toward the top of each section so that recruiters and hiring managers are more likely to spot them, keeping in mind that your resume, at least at first, might only get a brief scan by the person reading it.
At the same time, don't feel compelled to list every single task or skill you possess. If you currently spend 5% of your time typing up progress reports and the rest of your time analyzing data and overseeing marketing campaigns, there's really no need to include that tidbit on your resume since -- let's face it -- we all know how to use word processing software and it's not a particularly impressive piece of information.
Once you've reviewed your resume for content, make sure it's grammatically correct. Comb through that document line by line to check for errors, and don't rely on your computer's spell-checking software to spot mistakes. If grammar really isn't your thing, find a friend who majored in English or works in communications, and ask for a favor -- especially if you're making extensive revisions.
Finally, make certain your resume is stylistically consistent. For example, if you use italics to indicate your job title in one area, you should use italics for job titles throughout. Similarly, use the same font style throughout your resume so it looks cleaner. (You can use a larger font size for headings and such, but the font style you use should remain the same throughout.) Having a visually consistent resume sends the message that you're detail-oriented, which is a universal skill employers crave.
While there's no need to go crazy updating your resume every day, or even every month, it pays to bust out that document and review it one or two times a year to ensure that it's accurate. You never know when a job opportunity might open up, and the more up to date your resume is, the easier it'll be for you to jump on it.