Easy Resume Updates

In honor of International Update Your Resume Month, I am focusing this month on providing tips to update your resume. If you’re ready to spend an hour or two updating your resume, here are some things you can do:

• Remove positions that are more than 10 or so years old. Most resumes these days only go back 10 years since most employers want to know what you have done recently.

• Check the length; if you’re updating a private sector resume, make sure it does not exceed 2 pages; if you’re working on your federal resume, try to keep your resume to 4-7 pages.

• Make sure your resume is full of key words that reflect the kinds of positions you are targeting. And make sure your language is up-to-date. If you are in Information Technology, don’t call it Management Information Systems, as an example.

• Modernize your font. For federal resumes, think Times New Roman or Arial; for private sector resumes, think Calibri or another sans serif font. No one should be using Courier anymore—ever!

• Make sure you have white space to make your resume easy to read. And if your federal resume still uses only one long paragraph for every job, break it up into several smaller paragraphs. It will be more visually appealing, plus easier to read.

• Change all written numbers to numerals; use $ instead of dollars, % instead of percent, and M instead of million. This will make your resume more visually appealing, take up less room, and make those numbers stand out from all of your text.

• Update your training and technical skills. If you’re still showing Windows95, and training classes from the 1990’s and the early 2000’s, it’s time to move on. You do not need every single class ever taken or every single software or other technology you ever used.

• Remove your objective and references from your resume. These are both considered old fashioned. Employers are not interested in what you want; instead they want to know what you offer. And instead of including references on your resume, you should create a reference page and bring that with you to interviews (and leave it with your interviewers).

• Eliminate the term “responsible for” from your resume. Just because you’re responsible for something doesn’t mean you did it…it just means you should have done it! Start your sentences and bullet points with verbs. And don’t put “s” on the end of those verbs—keep your verbs strong and varied!

Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.