5 Ways to Activate Your Resume

Is it time to blow the dust off your resume and rekindle the passion for your career? Here are some practical ways to give your resume a little love.

1. Be Clear About Your Job Target

Have a goal in mind for what job you’re pursuing and be ruthless about what you choose to include on your résumé. For each position you’re interested in, before you submit your résumé, review it and make sure everything listed relates to the role you’re pursuing.

2. Don’t Confuse Your Résumé With a Career History

A résumé is not a “career obituary” listing everything you’ve ever done. You can keep a master career document that includes all of your education, experience, certifications, accomplishments, etc. — but excerpt that content to create a marketing document that is focused specifically on the job target you’re pursuing. Your résumé needs to tell a story of your career journey while also demonstrating to the employer how you can be a valuable asset to their team.

3. Don’t Use the Same Résumé for Every Job Application

Don’t try to use the same résumé for very different job targets. A customized document demonstrates the alignment between what the company wants in their next hire and the skills, experience, and education you have to offer. First, save a copy of the file. At a minimum, you will want to customize it with the desired job title and company name at the top of the résumé. You can also analyze the job posting and make sure you’ve addressed all the key requirements.

4. Don’t Forget the Keywords

Most career documents are “read” by computers first, not humans. To make it out of the automated screening process, you need to make sure you are including the most important keywords. Analyze job postings to optimize your résumé for the specific keywords that will be queried in the applicant tracking system software.

5. Use a Modern Format

Do you have an objective on your résumé? Is the phrase “References available upon request” on your document? Both of these are signs of a “dated” résumé. Functional résumé formats should also be used only with careful consideration. Even a straight chronological format can be dated if it doesn’t include a section at the top that identifies the type of position being targeted and the key qualifications offered (that will be further detailed in the rest of the document). Newer formats focus on accomplishments, not simply experience. In addition, some modern résumés only include a phone number, email address, and LinkedIn URL, not a physical address.

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Madelyn Mackie

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