In today’s often-frenetic business world, it’s hard to remember everything that needs to be done and even more difficult to make time for it all. Take the task of updating your résumé. If you recently received a performance evaluation, consider setting aside some time to do just that.
The timing is ideal, coming just after you’ve reflected on your most recent projects and accomplishments. Your manager likely also gave you some insights about your strengths during your evaluation. And what about recently acquired skills, such as proficiency with a particular software package or experience implementing a new accounting rule? Why not feed this fresh information into your résumé while it’s still top-of mind?
It’s always a good practice to have an up-to-date résumé on hand. You never know when you’ll hear of another opportunity that interests you or be approached by a recruiter about a position when you least expect it. As the scouting motto goes: Be prepared.
Here are some questions to consider as you undertake a résumé update:
Are my accomplishments showcased? Make sure your revamped résumé focuses on what you’ve actually achieved in your current role. Professionals often give an exhaustive list of their responsibilities but fail to say how they made an on-the-job difference. For example, rather than listing one of your responsibilities as “managed receivables,” explain your success in doing so –e.g., “Managed more than $350 million in receivables over six years with less than $100,000 of bad debt.”
Also, take renewed stock of your intangible assets, particularly those highlighted by your manager during your appraisal. You may be able to plug some of these attributes into your résumé as well.
Is the style up-to-date? Like your wardrobe, résumés also need periodic makeovers. Do some research and check with colleagues to get up-to-speed on current résumé trends and employer preferences. Granted, the latter can be difficult to nail down; résumé advice can vary from one hiring manager or human resources professional to the next. But you should be able to identify the most widely favored practices.
Many employers, for instance, prefer a professional profile or summary at the top of the résumé over an objective. Another example is provided by executives polled in a Robert Half survey, who said they prefer a chronological résumé over a functional one, which is organized according to your skills and attributes, as opposed to your work experience.
Is the length right? Just as current thinking on résumé style has evolved over time, so have résumé length preferences. Senior executives interviewed in periodic surveys by Robert Half have generally been more receptive of two-page résumés for staff positions but most still prefer a one-page résumé.
Although there is no hard-and-fast rule for how long your résumé should be, keep in mind that everything about your résumé, including its length, is a reflection of your judgment, so you want it to suit your candidacy. If you have only about three years of job experience, you probably don’t need a two-page résumé — and having one won’t make you seem more qualified. Hiring managers can spot filler.
Also, considering that an initial résumé scan may command a minute or less of a reviewer’s time, a bloated résumé can work against you. A hiring manager is more likely to quickly glean the most important information if your résumé is short and concise.
Have I avoided empty words? Too often, candidates fill their résumés with buzzwords they think sound impressive but don’t convey anything of substance. In fact, they’ve become clichés (e.g., “innovative,” “dynamic” or “effective”). Moreover, they make you sound like everyone else at a time when you want a hiring manager to see you as a special candidate. So rather than saying you’re “creative” or “results-oriented,” try to explain how your creativity is reflected in your work and what kind of results you’ve achieved.
We all know the importance of triggers, which is why we create routines and make to-do lists. Consider starting a positive professional habit by updating your résumé after every performance appraisal. It can help ensure you capture career highlights as they occur — and you’re always prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Robert Half International is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit www.roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, view our career bloopers video series at www.roberthalf.com/bloopers or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalf.