It’s hard to believe that we are already at the end of October and year-end is drawing ever closer with each passing minute, hour, and day. With the New Year comes fresh opportunity, especially for those of you potentially seeking a career switch or advancement with your current employer. Here are six ways to strengthen your resume and your resume writing skills as we enter the holiday season where time becomes increasingly scarce. Luck favors the prepared, so get your resume in tip-top shape to take advantage when opportunity finds you!
- Catalog your accomplishments from this year. In order to keep your resume up-to-date, take an hour out of your day to catalog your top seven achievements from the first nine months of the year. Why seven? No specific reason outside of it being a nice round number that you can easily pare down to the three or four bullets to tack on to your most recent section of your resume. Have this handy so you can quickly cut and paste.
- Consider an alternative format to give your resume a fresh aesthetic. If you love the classic format you’ve had for your resume since graduate school or college, that’s completely fine—stick with what works for you stylistically. But if you happen to be tired of the same look and feel, browse around the web or ask to see what your successful friends use to see if you want a new style. Sometimes a fresh look is all you need to increase your confidence in your existing CV.
- Eliminate stale or outdated bullet points from jobs you held more than 10 years ago. It may be difficult to let go of your favorite accomplishment from the job you held back in 2003, but you have to do it in order to keep your material high and tight. Employers tend to focus more on what you are doing now, what skills you offer now, and what value you can add to their organization now. Give yourself the additional white space you need to add new accomplishments by ditching your old ones that won’t win you as many points as it did in job searches past.
- Add a summary section highlighting your holistic value proposition and latest skills. If you don’t already have a summary section at the top of your resume that allows a reader to understand who you are and what you bring to the table, add one. This will help a prospective employer or recruiter scan for keywords to quickly get you on their radar.
- Hire a professional resume writer to proofread your new resume. Our own self-interest aside, hiring a professional resume writer or career coach to review and proof your new and improved resume is a smart investment. Many of the clients I work with are so entrenched in what they do that they undervalue themselves and their legitimate achievements that they deem trivial from excessive familiarity. Having a person who can critique you with a fresh, objective pair of eyes can be tremendously rewarding as you approach year-end and think about securing a new role.
- Include any additional training you’ve completed, awards received, and memberships obtained in your additional information section. Any new courses you’ve taken to improve your existing skillset demonstrate your commitment to self-improvement, adaptability, and openness to change—all characteristics employers love. Awards are great too if you are fortunate enough to garner actual industry recognition, so remember to add them at the bottom of your resume. Memberships are fantastic icebreakers that can put you in a favorable light with someone with a similar interest and change the course of an informational or actual interview, so make sure all noteworthy affiliations are listed. If you follow even half of these suggestions, your resume will be good to go during the holidays and serve as a valuable and productive tool.