Sometimes it can be difficult to know when to update your resume. Job search trends can change quickly – and something that looked great five years ago may now look irrelevant.
It’s well worth taking a step back and trying to take an impartial look at your resume – or perhaps even getting an opinion from a friend or even a professional. (By the way, I do offer a free resume review for anyone who may be interested!)
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself about your resume if you’re considering an update.
1. Does It Have an Objective?
I still see resume objectives all the time – but here’s the thing: they’re not relevant anymore. Including an objective is no longer necessary… you’re applying for the job, so Recruiters, HR people and Hiring Managers all understand what your objective is.
Also, objectives tend to take up important space near the top of the resume (and let’s face it – the top third of the resume is the space where you need to gain the employer’s attention). This crucial section near the top of the resume should be used to summarize your career background, education and explain why you’re the ideal candidate for the position.
2. Is It Longer Than Two Pages?
Your resume should be a reasonable length. If you’re a new graduate with limited experience, you can limit your resume to one page. For experienced professionals, I always suggest limiting your resume to two pages.
You don’t need to include all of your experience and skills. You only need to include experience and skills relevant to the job you’re applying for. You should be able to express all of your relevant skills, education and experience within two pages… I promise!
If you’re still not sure, ask yourself this: If you were a busy Hiring Manager, would you read a six-page resume all the way through just in case the employee has relevant experience somewhere? In fact, the longer your resume is, the more likely it is that your important skills will be missed entirely.
3. Does Your Resume Have Irrelevant Information?
Resumes can be considered a list of accomplishments, so it makes sense you want to include a lot of information. However, I’ve certainly seen that people can get carried away with listing courses, interests, accomplishments and everything they can think of.
You should ask yourself this question: Does all of the information I’m listing correspond to my ideal role?
Let’s say you have a background in Administration, but you’re looking to transition into a Sales job. Maybe you had a lot of accounting-related duties in your previous job which are currently highlighted on your resume. I would recommend removing or downplaying these responsibilities in your new resume.
In fact, highlighting these responsibilities could hinder your job search. As a recruiter, if I saw a resume filled with Accounting responsibilities, I’d probably assume the person is interested in Accounting and not Sales! In a case like this, I would recommend highlighting all of your experience that’s transferable to sales, such as organizing events, meetings and/or conferences and responding to client requests.
4. Does It Include Every Job You’ve Ever Had?
This isn’t relevant for everyone (especially if you’re a new grad and you’ve only had a couple of jobs in your life!) but keep in mind that you don’t need to list every job you’ve ever had. I was once a waitress, cashier, technical support representative and a museum assistant, but I don’t include that on my resume and LinkedIn Profile anymore.
By the way, that’s not because I didn’t gain important skills in those jobs – I definitely did: I learned a lot about customer service (which is relevant in almost every job), communications skills, sales and technology, but if I need to promote my skills in these areas, I’ll find a way to do that using my relevant experience within the last 10 years.
5. Are You Getting Calls?
The best way to tell if there may be a problem with your resume is if you aren’t getting responses. Are you sending out resumes to lots of positions you’re interested in, but not hearing back? If so, that’s a sign that there may be a problem with your resume or your job search.
There could be any number of problems, whether your resume isn’t ATS-compatible, or it’s not targeted enough to the types of jobs you’re interested in.
If your resume isn’t getting many responses, and you’re not sure why, please feel free to send it through to me for a free review. As a Chartered Professional in Human Resources and a Professional Resume Writer, I’m happy to offer some feedback about how to improve your resume.
P.S. – One Additional Point – Did You Include References?
You don’t need to list your references on your resume. References generally aren’t contacted unless you’ve had an interview, and let’s face it: you don’t want potential employers randomly contacting your references without your permission. There’s no need to include names and phone numbers of people who’ve been kind enough to offer to speak on your behalf.
I have experience in HR and Recruiting so trust me on this one: Delete the “References Available Upon Request.” This looks totally outdated, and we’ll ask you for references when we need them. It’s taking up space you can use for more relevant information.
It’s not always a fun process to update your resume, but if you’re looking for a new job, it’s actually a very important step.
By the way, if you have any questions or need any resume help, I’d love to answer any questions you may have. You can find out more about my Resume Writing services here.
Thanks for reading!